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GBPC Co-op Programme Pays off for Engineering Major

June 1, 2009
Co-op Programme Pays off for Engineering Major
Photo by Franklyn Williams/Keen I Media

In this time of economic uncertainty, now more than ever, companies are searching to make an investment when hiring. They are searching for employees that not only hold the necessary skill set but also proven experience. The Grand Bahama Power Company is making this happen by working with Kettering University Co-op Program.

Grand Bahama Power’s partnership with Kettering gives Bahamian students the opportunity to know what its like to be on the frontline of their chosen profession. Allowing them to engage in multiple terms of work experience in a relevant occupation - learning firsthand what challenges professionals in the field face and how their skills might best fit in. Not only are they able to fully evaluate whether a career is right for them, but it is also a great way for potential employers to get to know them.

“Our investment in each employee is paramount to the success of our company. Having a chance to work with potential employees before they join our team gives us such a great insight into their work ethic, their commitment and shows us what they as an individual can bring to the table,” said EO Ferrell, Grand Bahama Power Company CEO.

The Co-op (Cooperative education) Program combines classroom-based education with paid practical work experience, providing the student with academic credit for structured job experience. Kettering University's professional co-op model is unique in that Kettering students can go to work as early as their freshman year. This provides students with an unprecedented opportunity to gain up to two and half years of 'real world' experience by graduation.

During their term at Grand Bahama Power, co-op students play a noteworthy role in the company's work and overall success. Students seem to gain confidence in their career path and this enables them to perform at a higher level and with a higher level of professionalism. Kettering University alternates three-month academic terms with three months of full-time work – this schedule ensures that students don’t lose sight of the relationship between what is taught in the classroom and what is learnt on the job. “The beauty of a program like this is that in addition to providing benefits for the students,” said Evis Missick, “participating employers have an opportunity to not only shape the behaviors of tomorrow’s work force, but also to monitor and assess the performance of a potential hire before actual hiring.”

Most students turn to co-op programs as a means to finance their education, finding that in some cases, Co-op positions offer higher salaries than other part-time or internship work. Compared to summer interns, who work for three months or less and usually don't return to the same employer, Co-op students spend three complete work rotations on staff, allowing employers to spend less time in bringing new hires up to speed.

Past graduates of the Co-op Program can attest to its financially rewarding and instrumental affect on their educational experience. The program gave them the opportunity to not only make money while learning but also let them 'test-drive' their career and build industry contacts simultaneously. Two past graduates of this program are James Carey and Richard Morley. Morley is currently employed with Grand Bahama Power full time as a Project Assistant (Transmission and Distribution Dept.).

Grand Bahama Power Company's soon to be fifth graduate, Drexel Pinder, is in his senior year and final rotation of the co-op program. His senior thesis on 'Reliability Improvement' was an immense practical research project and is expected to be beneficial to both employer as well as student. This is the last step in his journey to obtaining a Bachelor's Degree in Industrial Engineering and specializing in Quality Assurance with a Minor in Business.

“The program provided me with a unique opportunity as an undergraduate student to utilize the time spent working at the Grand Bahama Power Company,” said Drexel. “I was able to work three months at a time in various departments with individuals that are professionals and do not mind sharing their experiences gained from employment.”

“Our employees are pleased to work along with the co-op students,” noted Missick. “A great deal of care and effort goes into planning the work of the students to ensure that assignments are meaningful and relative to their studies.”
Bahamians studying at Kettering should apply through the university for placement opportunities within Grand Bahama Power.

“The experience gained from employment adds value to my resume and gives me an edge when seeking full time employment,” noted Drexel, “it is a unique program that distinguishes its students from other graduates. It gives you that competitive edge that can drive you to success.”