Annual fair offers students work experience

By Michael Berg

Students interested in an internship or cooperative position have a chance to meet potential employers at the Ninth Annual Cooperative Education and Internship Fair on Feb. 12.

“Seventy to 80 companies are coming in, looking for students interested in co-ops and internships,” said Douglas Davis, the Cooperative Education Program director.

“With the job market being the way it is, any experience, especially this kind of experience, gives a person an advantage over other students seeking employment,” Davis said, concerning internships and co-ops.

Sophomores, juniors, seniors and graduate students are eligible for the Cooperative Education Program at NIU. “Frequently students enroll in the program to take advantage of the experience they get,” said Edwin Riedl, acting associate director of Cooperative Education and engineering coordinator. “The program makes students more marketable, and students can gain positions by the networking they develop while they are still students.”

“An internship is one work experience, in spring, summer or fall,” Riedl said. “A co-op is two or more work experiences in any combination. For example, two summers, or a spring and a summer, when a student leaves campus for a co-op work assignment.”

The recession has had an effect on the program, but only a minor one. “Employers cut back on interns in varying degrees,” Riedl said.

Co-ops have not been reduced because a motive of employers is to save on interns and instead use a co-op student, he said.

“In spite of the recession, the placements and the number of students increases,” Riedl said. “How can you show improvements and be affected by the recession?

“We are competing more effectively for positions available in the marketplace,” he said. “The program is 8 years old, and it’s encroaching on other school’s programs. We are getting more than our share of the market. If there was no recession, we would get an even bigger share.”

“NIU is more progressive (than other university programs) because we have a career fair and are doing well in the publicity we generate in the Northern Illinois region,” Riedl said.

The career fair will be like the job fair held by the Career Planning and Placement Office, Davis said. There will be tables set up in the Duke Ellington Ballroom. “This is not permanent hiring,” Davis said.

“Students should dress as if they were interviewing for a position and bring resumes,” Davis said.

The Career Fair will be held Feb. 12 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 to 4 p.m. It is open to all students, any major.