Cooperative education is, by definition, a mutual relationship. Students get to apply their knowledge and skills, gain valuable experience, explore career options and build their resume over several paid work terms. In turn, co-op is an important resource for long-term recruitment for many employers.
Co-op is an essential recruitment strategy for Michelin North America (Canada). One of the largest tire manufacturers in the world, Michelin has nearly 3,500 employees across three tire manufacturing facilities in Nova Scotia. With 30 years of co-op participation, the company currently hires up to 12 co-op students locally per year.
“I applied to Michelin because it has a reputation of providing students with meaningful and relevant work, as well as helpful guidance and feedback,” says Dalhousie Industrial Engineering student Jillian Withers, who completed a work term with Michelin in 2012.
In the last five years, 40 per cent of new Michelin hires were former co-op students, among whom retention rates are above average. Dalhousie Industrial Engineering alumnus Jeff MacLean completed a work term with Michelin in 1987 and was recruited upon graduation.
“The opportunity to live and practice skills I was learning in university, in a real-life environment, not only allowed me to understand how to use these skills and understand their importance, but also helped when I returned to school,” says MacLean, now a plant manager at Michelin’s production facility in Pictou County. “I was able to focus my core learning on the key skills and tools needed for my future responsibilities.”
Michelin co-op students oversee a project from beginning to end, and get to witness their contributions in action.
“I had the opportunity to support industrial engineers, as well as complete one project of my own,” says Withers.
In exit surveys performed at the end of their co-op, students often mention the opportunity to contribute meaningfully during their work term.
“I loved how I got to design a project, see the design get made, and then I even got to help install it,” said one student in their survey. “I know a lot of places aren’t like that, and I just thought it was awesome to actually see my idea get implemented into Michelin’s machines.”
In addition to enhancing their education, co-op students engage seasoned professionals in their field, receive mentorship and build connections within the industry.
“My co-op term also gave me a number of very important mentors and made my final career choice simple,” says Maclean. “I knew what I was accepting when I said yes to an offer of full-time employment with Michelin.”
“Everyone was always happy to help me and made me feel welcome in the workplace,” says Withers, who highly recommends Michelin as a co-op employer. “It’s an excellent learning experience and gives students the opportunity to do something challenging and worthwhile during their term.”
Learn more about co-op education at Dal.
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