The CIS Co-Op Program Provides Students With a Competitive Edge in the Job Market

Today’s job market, especially in the fields of Computer Science and Information Systems, is extremely competitive. Thousands of students graduate each year with similar degrees, all searching for that perfect job. What gives one student the competitive edge over another? Work experience.

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2013 Co-Op Students
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Debi Ortgies
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Elias Chbeir
Yuzhan (Maggie) Ma

As several students recently discovered, getting involved with the CIS Co-Op Program at the Monte Ahuja College of Business is providing them with the real-world work experience to enhance their classroom studies and make them extremely marketable job candidates. According to Elias Chbeir, an Information Systems (IST) major who completed his Co-Op at Lubrizol Corporation, “I knew a Co-Op would make me stand out from someone else in my major. Having this kind of experience while in college can help me get a job with a great company and work my way up to where I want to be.”

The CIS Co-Op is a formal, accredited academic program that integrates classroom theory with work experience. Students alternate semesters of work and study, beginning the summer after freshman year and complete a minimum of two and a maximum of four Co-Op semesters throughout their undergraduate program. Their degree is completed in five years with the equivalent of at least one year of meaningful CIS/IT experience. “IT jobs are plentiful, but nearly all of them require prior experience. Taking part in the Co-Op program will provide me with the experience that will help me secure the career that I’m working towards,” said Scott Hawkins, an IST major and Computer Science minor who worked at Progressive Insurance during his program.

From this last cohort, students who participated in the CIS Co-Op had positions with some of the top companies in the Cleveland area including Cleveland Clinic, Lubrizol, Progressive, Westfield Group and Eaton. These are the companies on the short list of desirable post-graduation workplaces for our students. Those in the Co-Op program had the unique opportunity to not only be exposed to a corporate environment, but to network with leaders in the field and work on projects alongside them. As Yuzhan (Maggie) Ma, a Computer and Information Science major who had a Co-Op with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation said, “A Co-Op is one decision in college that you will never regret.”

Students in the Co-Op program receive guidance and assistance from the Co-Op Coordinator in the College of Business, who is able to help students find the right position to fit their programs of study and career interests. “I’m getting a chance to learn a different part of computer science – information security – while still pursuing my CIS degree from CSU, which mostly focuses on programming,” said Alex Trylysenko who worked at the Westfield Group during his Co-Op. “We also have very helpful staff at CSU who will walk you through the whole process, from writing resumes and practicing interviews, to negotiating your wages – all valuable lessons.”

During Sanaa Dakdouk’s Co-Op, she worked at the Cleveland Clinic, one of the largest employers in the Cleveland area “A Co-Op allows you to apply the knowledge you learn in the classroom in the work place, along with learning and gaining experience as you are exposed to different projects. You also gain the professional experience that will prepare you for the job you will apply for after graduation. I would advise students to pursue a Co-Op during their academic program because it is a great opportunity to learn, gain experience, connect with professionals, explore the real world and work on real projects.”

Matthew Parker, an IST major who worked at Eaton Corporation, gained invaluable insights into what qualities and skillsets employers are looking for in new hires. “A college degree does not get you as far today as it once did. The struggling economy has resulted in many educated, skilled and experienced workers finding themselves unemployed. In order for a new college graduate to compete in this job market, they must have measurable experience to back up their degree. The Co-Op is the perfect opportunity to gain that experience.”

It’s never too early to apply for a Co-Op and more and more students are taking advantage of this program in order to increase their chances of securing that sought after job post graduation. Debi Ortgies, who completed her Co-Op at the Cleveland Clinic, had an extremely positive experience. “I am certain it will improve my marketability,” Ortgies said. “This Co-Op gave me the opportunity to build on my professional experiences and develop my skills which will help when I begin pursuing full-time employment.

Interested students and employers who want to become part of the CIS Co-Op program should visit



engaged learning
Mailing Address
Cleveland State University
2121 Euclid Avenue, BU 420
Cleveland, OH 44115-2214
Campus Location
Monte Ahuja Hall, Room 420
1860 E. 18th Street
Cleveland, OH 44115-2214
Phone: 216.687.3786

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