Student Work Experience Program (SWEP)
Recent surveys indicate that more and more public and private organizations are recognizing the long-term advantages of supporting work experiences for college students. Organizations find that such programs offer an excellent opportunity to evaluate candidates for potential full-time positions while these candidates accomplish valuable tasks that might otherwise go undone. Additionally, organizations have found that these programs enhance their corporate image on the college campus and decrease recruiting expenses while yielding more productive and dedicated employees. Educational institutions find that students with career-related work experiences perform better academically, have higher retention rates, and compete better for jobs after graduation.
The Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. School of Engineering at Morgan State University has an established Student Work Experience Program (SWEP) office where the primary goal is to ensure that the educational experience of students will be at or above the national average for all engineering students. The working definition of student work experience is a structured, career related experience in which the student performs tasks that contribute to the mission of a public or private organization, usually on a paid basis. Included among the experiences, may be activities such as cooperative education, internships/summer jobs, sponsored research, peer tutoring and/or experiences designed to provide opportunities that develop technical and management skills.The primary mission of SWEP is to seek, capture, and categorize student work experience opportunities, and to monitor the work experience progress of students.
Types of Experiences
Cooperative Education (Co-op)
The cooperative education program allows students to divide their time alternatively between full-time academic terms and full-time work experiences. Typically, the cycle is 8 months (January-September or May-December) on the job followed by
8 months in school, and so on, depending on the nature of the job and the school's academic structure. The co-op program is based on a series of semester-long work tours, which are planned and supervised work experiences that give the student an increased shared responsibility over time. Usually, the work projects are different with each work cycle and the total working experience helps the student-worker determine his or her area of focus after graduation.
Internships are short-term (10-12 weeks) work experiences usually during the summer break, but occasionally occurring in the academic year. Most are meaningful work experiences related to the students academic field and often involve research and development. Many times the student is a member of a research or work team and may help to define as well as carry out assigned tasks.
University faculty members are regularly awarded grants and contracts for research and development from government agencies and private companies. Many of these activities offer students opportunities to participate as paid assistants in research projects as part of their educational experience. Undergraduate research programs are intended to encourage students to consider attending graduate school and to consider the pursuit of careers in academia.
Students that participate in the peer tutoring/mentoring support program are upperclassmen (juniors and seniors) who assist faculty in providing lower division students with the academic support necessary to help them gain the confidence and skills required to successfully complete science, engineering and mathematics programs. Faculty members train and supervise the upperclassmen and meet with them and their lower division counterparts on a regular basis. Hourly wages are paid for work totaling no more than 12 hours per week.