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Co-ops and Interns-What Do They See as Their Communication Needs

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

CEED - Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Cooperative & Experiential Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.291.1 - 23.291.16



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Paper Authors


Craig J. Gunn Michigan State University

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Craig Gunn is the Director of the Communication Program in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Michigan State University. His duties include the integration of communication skill activity into all courses within the mechanical engineering program, including overseas experiences. He works closely with the Cooperative Engineering Education Division of the College of Engineering to monitor the communication skills of students who co-op during their college years. He is currently the editor of the Cooperative and Experiential Education Division Newsbriefs and is co-author of a number of textbooks focusing on engineering freshmen orientation. He has spent almost 25 years at Michigan State University and for the past 12 years has co-chaired the MSU Community Charitable Campaign. His favorite activity is sponsoring the annual College of Engineering Poetry Forum at MSU.

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Co-ops and Interns – What Do They See as Their Communication Needs?Across the United States and actually across the globe, the number of courses, seminars, andsuggestions for providing students with materials to help them in their future careers abound. Wehave courses focusing on how to properly maneuver through a dining experience and how tocarry on a conversation in an elevator. We try to teach young men and women how to dressproperly for success while giving them tips on how to formulate resumes and cover letters. Wemarch any number of employers through our classrooms providing those students with masses ofinformation on those companies and their products. All in all there is nothing wrong with thisapproach. We know what they need to know and we try to provide as much of it as possible. Butwith that there is a sense that we have left something out of the equation. We have failed to askthe students what they think and what they see as important in their own working lives. Thispaper starts to delve into the issue of student opinions and the wealth of information that studentscan offer to help us provide better materials for them to be successful in the world of work.The first element in the equation looks at a means to give students something to research in theirfirst co-ops and internships – the work report. Details of what the student must find on the jobthat will help him or her formulate a plan for their future will be provided. The work reportforms the basis for carrying on a conversation with students on what they find useful in theworkplace. It also allows the student to provide input into areas of interest that they find in theworkplace.Once the information has been collected from the students, the next step is to go directly to thosestudents and find out from them what they see as distinct needs in their education of work. Whatdo they find as relatively easy in preparing for their time in the working world and what can theyprovide as elements that are necessary according to them to survive in industry.This paper looks at the kinds of issues raised by students and suggests way that educators canincorporate those suggestions into the curriculum through a variety of means.

Gunn, C. J. (2013, June), Co-ops and Interns-What Do They See as Their Communication Needs Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19305

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