Expectations of Employers

Since most engineering students choose to receive academic credit for their co-op or internship experiences, at least during the fall and spring semesters, our staff expect employers who hire our students for short-term work experiences to provide them with meaningful assignments that are related to their field of study and that enhance their engineering education. We also expect them to provide students with a basic set of services both prior to and throughout the work assignment.

Prior to the Student's Work Assignment
On the First Day
Within the First Two Weeks
During the Student's Work Assignment


Prior to the Student's Work Assignment

Ask the student whether or not he or she intends to be registered and earn academic credit for the work assignment; students who opt to complete credit-bearing co-op or internship experiences will need to be registered for credit (e.g., ENGR 195, 295, 395, 495, or 595). Inform the student if your company or organization will require him or her to be registered for credit.

Provide the student with any necessary information about the position, company, or division, including basic information that he or she will need on the first day at work (what to expect, start/end times, appropriate dress, etc.). Please note that our office does not define co-op or internship start and end dates for students. Although we expect students to work for roughly a full semester per rotation (i.e., 12–15 weeks in the fall or spring, 10–12 weeks in the summer), we expect students and employers to work together to establish mutually acceptable start and end dates for short-term work experiences. Penn State students are also permitted to work at their co-op or internship locations during University holiday periods (e.g., Spring Break), if this best suits the needs of employers. You can find more information about Penn State academic calendars on the University Registrar's website.

Offer the student assistance in locating (and, if possible, arranging for) appropriate housing near the work site.


On the First Day

Provide a tour of the office or facility and a meet-and-greet with other members of the team.

Provide an orientation program to ensure that the student is fully cognizant of the organization's policies, procedures, and expectations (i.e., as related to benefits, holidays, safety requirements, etc.).

Give the student appropriate reading material to give him or her an overview of the organization (e.g., company literature, employee handbook, organizational chart).


Within the First Two Weeks

Give the student a project summary, and explain how the assignment relates to learning objectives. The student should be completing a technical assignment that builds upon skills learned in the classroom and offers the opportunity to learn new skills.

Check in frequently (ideally, at least once a week) with the student to see how he or she is handling the transition from school to work, how his or her projects/assignments are progressing, and whether or not he or she is busy and challenged.


During the Student's Work Assignment

Meet with the student at regular pre-determined intervals to discuss progress.

Ensure that the student has continuous oversight and support throughout the work experience. We understand that supervisors are busy and may have business travel or vacation plans during the student's tenure with the organization; in such situations, we expect that an alternate responsible staff member will be assigned to assist the student on a temporary basis, as needed.

In the middle of the work assignment, the complete the online Mid-Semester Supervisor Evaluation Form (select Mid-Semester Evaluation, the appropriate semester/year, unique ID, and password, then choose Submit). Meet with the student prior to completing the evaluation and then, once it is completed, review it with the student. This evaluation offers your first formal opportunity to give the student constructive feedback that can shape the rest of his or her experience with the company or organization and will, ideally, ensure a successful completion of the work assignment.

At the end of the work assignment, complete the online Final Supervisor Evaluation Form (select Final Evaluation, the appropriate semester/year, unique ID, and password, then choose Submit). Prior to completing this evaluation, meet with the student to discuss his or her performance in the position, what he or she could improve in a future work assignment, how well he or she met his or her own goals and those of the company. Please consider these criteria when you are preparing to evaluate a Penn State student's performance. Be sure to observe the due date for the Final Supervisor Evaluation Form, which the student will provide.

Sign off on the student's End-of-Semester Report, which summarizes his or her co-op rotation or internship experience. Confirm that the report does not contain any proprietary information. The report will then be reviewed and graded by faculty or staff in the College of Engineering at Penn State.

If for any reason you need to lay off or terminate a Penn State student, please contact our office prior to doing so.

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