Frequently Asked Questions
What is co-op?
The School of Hospitality Management is a capstone program with a built-in, 15-credit component of the four-year undergraduate curriculum.
Who must do co-op?
All students must enroll in co-op as a part of the graduation requirement for the hospitality management program. Students enroll in the Cooperative Education Program as a second-semester junior or a first-semester senior.
What are the time requirements of co-op?
Students in co-op work full-time hours for sixteen consecutive weeks during a semester. Each student must accumulate a minimum of 600 working hours to satisfy the co-op requirement. Students are also required to return to the classroom one day each week for a six-hour leadership development seminar.
Where does a student work for the co-op requirement?
As the student is required to return to campus each week for a six-hour leadership seminar, the student does have some geographic considerations in obtaining co-op employment. However, Widener is situated only 20 miles south of downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 15 miles north of Wilmington, Delaware, and only 85 miles from the Atlantic City, New Jersey shore line. Therefore, there are numerous employment opportunities close to campus.
Why do co-op?
Our industry partners believe co-op provides a realistic preview of the industry, and therefore increases the likelihood of employment success upon graduation. Our students feel more confident and better prepared after the co-op experience. We believe that our cooperative education program helps to develop leaders for our global hospitality industry.
How do I find a job?
The student is responsible for obtaining his/her position for co-op. The School of Hospitality Management offers resources to assist the student. The director of cooperative education will offer job opportunity suggestions to the student. Additionally, the Widener University Career Advising and Planning Services (CAPS) Office centrally houses employment opportunities from employers who contact us. Ultimately, the student must seek out and negotiate his/her co-op position.
Is my co-op position a paid position?
Yes! We insist that the student is paid for the co-op position. We believe it is mutually beneficial to the employer and the student to offer a compensation package that is reasonable for the position. The rate of pay, however, is negotiated between the employer and the student.
Do I pay tuition during my co-op?
Yes. The student is earning 15 credits toward the four-year degree during this co-op semester. There is a 6-hour classroom requirement each week. Additionally, the student is provided a great deal of home study in the form of homework, readings, and projects. The student truly experiences the rigors of combining full-time employment with a full-time academic schedule.
Can I change jobs during my co-op?
No. Unless there are some very extreme circumstances, the student is challenged to remain with the same employer for a minimum of 16 weeks. This policy is meant to help the student develop tolerance, problem-solving skills, and patience. If the student terminates employment without the consent of the co-op director, the student will be forced to withdraw from the academic schedule as well.
What happens if I cannot come to class?
The classroom component is a requirement. Unexcused absences are not tolerated. We urge the student to consider the classroom component as another "day at work". The student must be present, on time, prepared, and be participatory in the classroom. We truly believe the classroom component is a vital tool of the whole experience. The peer support, the class discussions, the learning that occurs from each other, the problem solving, and the stress relief are just a few of the reasons students cite for wanting to come to class!
Can I enroll in co-op in my last semester before graduation?
We strongly discourage students from taking co-op in the last semester before graduation. The co-op semester is meant to be a learning experience—one more piece of the resume, one more tool to make career decisions—it is not meant to be the student's career decision. While there are occasions when students must schedule co-op in the last semester, we do not encourage it. Students are normally scheduled for co-op in the second semester of the junior year or the first semester of the senior year.
How is the co-op curriculum structured?
The curriculum is divided into three separate courses which combine to form our 15-credit leadership development semester. The courses are as follows:
- HM 400 Leadership Development Seminar (6 credits)
- HM 401 Strategic Hospitality Management Issues (3 credits)
- HM 402 Applied Hospitality Management Principles (6 credits)
How do I get more information on cooperative education?
Contact Professor Joy Dickerson, Director of Cooperative Education at the School of Hospitality Management, at firstname.lastname@example.org.