Although the prospect of doing a work placement as part of your degree is exciting, for many mature students, it can also be daunting. It may be quite some time since you have been in employment or perhaps you are planning a career change. The Cooperative Education & Careers Division is here to help you to prepare for your Coop placement and to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.
It is important that you attend the employability programmes which are usually held two or three semesters before your Coop is due to begin. Coop Managers will email each class well in advance of the employability programmes, so make note of the relevant date. This is an opportunity to find out about Coop and to think about your options.
The following are some typical questions posed by mature students.
1. It is a long time since I have had a job interview. Can the Coop team help me to prepare for this?
Yes, there are a number of ways to prepare for your interview:
- Attend the Coop Information Sessions, which focus on CV and interview preparation
- View advice on Coop CV and interviews
- Access the UL Careers Service website for detailed information on interview preparation
- Contact Patsy Ryan, Careers Advisor for Mature Students, if you would like to speak to someone on a one to one basis about interview preparation. There is also a tailored section for Mature Students on the Careers Service website.
2. I'm interested in doing Coop, but I have to stay in the local area due to family commitments. Can I get a Coop placement locally?
Although every effort will be made to accommodate your particular situation, we cannot guarantee a local placement.
3. As a mature student, am I automatically entitled to an exemption from Coop?
There is no automatic entitlement to an exemption from Coop. You may, however, be entitled to an exemption if you have had previous relevant work experience. Each application for an exemption will be assessed on an individual basis.
Please note that Coop is assessed on a pass/fail basis. If you do not pass your Coop Placement, you are not entitled to a retrospective exemption based on your previous work experience.
4. When can I apply for an exemption from Coop?
You can apply for a Coop exemption as early as you like, but the paperwork (see question 5) should be completed at least six months before your placement is due to begin. The Coop Placement period for some degrees is in 2nd year and for others it is in 3rd year. You should be clear about when exactly the Coop placement for your degree begins, so you can apply in time for an exemption.
5. How do I apply for an exemption from Coop?
You must obtain an exemption form from Student Academic Administration (SAA); forms are downloadable from their website.
You should then speak to the Coop Manager responsible for your course and discuss your reasons for applying for an exemption.
Complete the form, and attach a two-page summary of any previous work and or life experience that you feel is relevant. You may also need to attach an employer reference. Return the form to your Coop Manager for approval. The Student Status Committee will then consider your application. You will be invited to attend a meeting, and will receive confirmation of the meeting's outcome by letter.
6. What are my options during the Coop Placement period if I get an exemption from Coop?
Basically, your time is your own. You do not have to be present on campus. If you have questions on the possibility of taking some of your degree modules over the Coop placement period, you should contact your Student Advisor.