We’ve heard the word “co-op” mentioned left and right in our RIT Kosovo (A.U.K) sphere, but what is it exactly?
Our world of learning at RIT Kosovo (A.U.K) cooperates with the real world, with its many players: private businesses, governmental institutions, non-governmental organizations and associations, etc.
Co-op is another word for internship. But there’s more to it. A co-op is a paid professional experience in a real work environment that allows you to put your knowledge gained in courses into practice, and benefit from experiential learning. Each student at RIT Kosovo (A.U.K) and RIT completes two co-ops of 400 working hours each, before obtaining that much-desired RIT degree.
Why the sweat? Isn’t your professional career supposed to start after you finish university?
The two co-ops required before you finish university enrich your degree. The co-op program is at the heart of the successful RIT model of ‘career education’, a model that does not divorce the conceptual from the practical but rather integrates these dimensions of learning. Universities are no longer ivory towers you are locked into for 4 years, after which you wake up to reality. This brings a sigh of relief to employers, who may complain that the university equips graduates with knowledge too abstract and far removed from real working world scenarios. Employers give preference to graduates who have already tested their knowledge and skills ‘out there’, and who have built themselves up as competent human resources by investing in experience. RIT Kosovo (A.U.K) graduates are employees ready for the next challenge. It comes as no surprise then that in an economy with soaring unemployment approximately 95 % of RIT Kosovo (A.U.K) graduates are employed. Co-ops make the difference.
Finding Out What Makes Your Heart Beat
At RIT Kosovo (A.U.K) you start your career while studying. This begs the question: what career do you have in mind for yourself? You might have a very specific idea about this, and have decided to become a bank manager, or a graphic designer, or an IT specialist, or even a diplomat. Perhaps you see limitless options and want to try them all. Maybe you have a strong determination to make it, but have no clue which field or occupation.
When developing your career goals, thoroughly investigate options. Don’t be satisfied with following your parents’ footsteps unless you’ve discovered this is what you truly want to do. Don’t limit yourself by over focusing on compensation packages and how important a job title sounds. Go beyond the myths. Find accurate information about all the possible career choices, and find out how these resonate with your passions, your talents, and your unique potential. After all, what truly makes your heart beat is doing something that gives you fulfillment, that is meaningful and challenging to you. This could be anything ranging from exploring reality through research, doing magic with numbers, giving strategic advice, serving customers, designing solutions to social & economic problems, managing processes of change, creating innovative products, working with the power of language, discovering the performing arts and the influence of media, or developing learning tools.
Identifying a Great Co-op
You might ask yourself the following questions when considering what kind of Co-op might be a great match for you:
What are your favorite skills? (Human relations, performing, creative, conceptual, organization and planning, language, learning skills…)
What is your favorite work environment? (Office or out and about; what kind of people, organizational culture, or geography…)
What field or sector do you want to explore? (Banking and finance, training and consulting, service industry, governmental institutions, NGO’s, wholesale, IT, media and communication…)
Don’t cheat yourself by simply ticking the box of 400 hours completed. Your first co-op is the start of your career journey. The following are some accounts of Co-op experiences:
“My Co-op with the American Chamber of Commerce provided me with a great diversity of tasks and responsibilities. This Co-op later on led me to an opportunity with ProCredit Bank where I am now the executive assistant to the CEO. My present job makes me feel valuable and I learn a lot with regards to the banking sector, management, business ethics and communication. The beginning was hard but now I have a sense of inner fulfillment in my work.” (Jeta Zagragjia, Junior)
“In my Co-op at Walt Disney World, I had a chance to meet different people from around the world who I am still connected with” (Arta Ponosheci, Senior)
“At the Corning Museum of Glass, I was exposed to a culture of real customer service and I learnt that a smile can make a big difference. I saw and experienced how leadership and teamwork function in reality and was able to gain a more adequate understanding of course concepts” (Ardian Hasanaj, Senior)
“With MDA (Management Development Associates) I had my first real job where I was exposed to schedules, procedures, deadlines, and all the details of the inner functioning of a big company. I started at the bottom and learnt everything from where stamps are placed to how the office alarm is activated. Later on I received more challenging tasks like developing a media plan or writing a concept paper for a project proposal. My learning on the job was facilitated by consulting with more experienced colleagues.” (Vigan Hoxha, Alumnus)
“In the end, through the Co-op you get to see what makes you tick professionally, so that by the end of the four years at RIT Kosovo (A.U.K) you have an idea where you want to be.” (Fiona Kelmendi, Alumnus)
Students are often surprised to find out how many opportunities might come their way with a little effort and creativity. As Einstein once said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination.”
RIT Kosovo (A.U.K) Co-op & Career Services