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How the University of the Pacific’s CO-OP Program Makes International Students Employable

Engineering students, the University of the Pacific CO-OP Program may be worth a close look. Get valuable work experience in Silicon Valley and earn up to $3,700 per month while still enrolled at college!

A group of college students from the University of the Pacific CO-OP program stand together in the lobby of LinkedIn's headquarters

How many college students do you know who earn $3,700 per month?

If you are like most of us, we are guessing not very many. But for international students participating in the engineering and computer science CO-OP program at the University of the Pacific (UOP), this paycheck—and valuable work experience—is all part of their studies in the United States. 

The CO-OP program at the University of the Pacific 

For fifty years, students in the School of Engineering and Computer Science (SOECS) at the University of the Pacific have gained real-world experience through our Cooperative Education program (CO-OP). CO-OP is an experiential internship program for juniors and seniors to gain hands-on experience with an organization while earning academic credits toward their degree. 

Students practice and grow their engineering and computer science skills while enhancing the soft skills needed to thrive in their future careers. The CO-OP program is six to seven months long, or a semester and summer term of work experience. On average, students who complete CO-OPs earn $3,700 per month. 

Pacific’s connections and proximity to the Bay Area and Silicon Valley gives students the opportunity to do their internships at impressive tech-, start-ups, and Fortune 500 companies. An average of 200 employers per academic year partner with Pacific to recruit students. In the last three years, students have completed their CO-OPs at impressive companies such as Abbott Laboratories, Intel, NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center, and more. 

Practical work experience = jobs for recent college graduates

Doing CO-OP while at Pacific allows international students to develop an impressive resume and skill set that sets them apart from the competition. Students who complete a CO-OP are prepared and already have knowledge and experience in the fields they are interested in, before they even graduate. 

It is also a valued part of the Pacific engineering curriculum: CO-OP is required for domestic students and strongly encouraged for international students. Students can be in any STEM major at the School of Engineering and Computer Science to get the opportunity to participate in CO-OP. Students even gain sixteen or thirty-two credits towards their degree while in their CO-OP! 

To do a CO-OP, students have to apply and interview with companies on their own—but they receive plenty of support. The Career Accelerator Program at UOP International, Career Services Center, CO-OP team, and SOECS faculty are available to help with sharing job and internship postings, hosting career fairs and visits to companies, resume prep, and even loaning interview clothes. 

Being a STEM major student at a university like Pacific, with its proximity to Silicon Valley and the Greater San Francisco Bay area, is a huge advantage. Compared to other colleges in the US, Pacific gives international students greater accessibility to visit, apply, interview, and intern at the region’s large and prestigious tech companies. Tech jobs are within reach for CO-OP participants. 

Will you be the next University of the Pacific CO-OP student?

So, why do a CO-OP while studying at Pacific? You will strengthen and reinforce your academic engineering knowledge and skills, acquire hands-on industry experience and programming skills, learn how to navigate a corporate environment, and build confidence.  

Additionally, a CO-OP enables students to:

  • Connect classroom learnings to real work experience

  • Practice professional collaborations in teams

  • Learn how to search for jobs and develop interviewing skills

  • Build a professional network

  • Earn a paycheck to offset educational and living expenses

Simply put, CO-OP makes international students more employable. In fact, employers tell the university that they prefer to hire graduates with the real-world experience CO-OP provides, and many CO-OP students are offered full-time employment after graduation. 

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