Two male engineering students working on equipment at their co-op.

Before the Hire:

Job Description

Each co-op job requires a job description. Since students respond better to a concrete description of the responsibilities and desired skills, the job description is critical in assessing its relevance. We have provided a number of sample job descriptions within the Resource Library of CareerLINK.

Job Offers

We ask that you give students at least 3 business days to evaluate a job offer. This time is often used for students to consult their co-op advisor on the offer and its connection to their career goals.

If you have a student who accepts and then declines a job offer, please notify us. This student behavior is unacceptable and may result in the student being withdrawn from that terms co-op program.

Employment Law

Employers must adhere to federal and state employment law. Two areas often questioned relate to paying co-op students.

First is the question of paying or not paying a co-op student.

  • Not only is paying a co-op student the right thing to do; it can be the legal thing to do. In April 2010, the Wage and Hour Division of the U. S. Department of Labor published at fact sheet to help determine whether interns/co-ops must be paid the minimum wage and overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act—Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Second is the question of the student being an employee or independent contractor.

  • A 1099 is used to pay independent contractors. Based on the federal government’s definition of an independent contractor, it is unlikely that a co-op student could be classified as an independent contractor.
  • The U. S. Department of Labor published an informative report on determining independent contractor status.
  • Students frequently do not understand what it means to work as an independent contractor and be paid through a 1099. They are often caught unaware that their tax liability increases under a 1099.

Employer Statement of Understanding

Once an offer of co-op employment has been extended by an organization and then accepted by a UMass Lowell student, all of the co-op partners including the University enter into an agreement that outlines the expectations and responsibilities for all parties. It is the co-op student's responsibility to initiation of the agreement on CareerLINK. The Agreement must be electronically signed and on file before the UMass Lowell student begins his/her co-op employment.

During the Co-op:

Mentoring and Supervision

UMass Lowell students are known for hitting the ground running when they enter the workplace. However, that does not imply that they are completely self-sufficient. Just as any employee needs supervision, direction, and mentoring, a co-op student requires that same attention.

Performance Evaluations

The co-op curriculum requires feedback from the student’s supervisor. An evaluation of the student’s work is requested and sent via our CareerLINK system to the co-op manager's email.

Notification of Layoff or Discharge

Since students are enrolled as a full-time student at UMass Lowell during their co-op, it is critical to know of any changes to their employment status. While the student themselves typically notify us of a layoff or discharge, we ask that the employer also notify us of this change