MSEP Co-op

"My co-op took place at the Mystic Aquarium Water Quality Lab in Mystic, Ct. My favorite part was having the opportunity to work alongside so many talented people and being a part of a great team. I truly enjoyed the working atmosphere, using the lab materials and methods we used in class. It showed me that I really enjoy the work, and would like to find a profession that allows me to be out in the field and utilizing my lab skills."

-Stephanie Stabile '15

Marine Science, Safety and Environmental Protection (MSSEP) Cooperative Education

The MSSEP program prepares students for a wide range of government, non-profit and private sector careers in the fields of marine and industrial health and safety, environmental protection and environmental management. Concentrations are available in Marine Biology and Occupational Health and Safety. The program includes a breadth of practical coursework and experience.

  • Must have completed sophomore year.
  • Two co-op placements are required. One 6-credit and one 3-credit.
  • Students who obtain their own co-op position or wish to repeat at the same employer must obtain approval of the MSSEP Department Chair (Prof. Veale) and their Co-op Coordinator.

MSSEP Employment
Students typically co-op in the areas of: 1) environmental protection, health and safety; 2) environmental, social responsibility and stewardship; and 3) causes, effects and potential solutions to environmental challenges. Career opportunities exist in a variety of fields, including climate change, diminishing natural resources, environmental degradation, increasing demands for energy, economic development in developing countries, and safety officers (at sea and ashore).

Co-op and graduating employment opportunities

  • Cruise Lines (Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean)
  • Dean Foods
  • Environmental Companies (Clean Harbors, Triumverate)
  • General Electric
  • Hasbro Toys
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • Research Institutions (Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
  • United States Coast Guard

Co-op Project Requirements

I Purpose and Intent

Cooperative Education is an academically focused program that allows students to obtain professional work experience and skill while still in college. It is an opportunity for students to apply their academic discipline to "real world" situations in government, industry and non-governmental organizations. The purpose of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s MSSEP cooperative education program is to provide students with the chance to combine classroom study with periods of paid and non-paid professional employment directly related to their major and their career goals. Cooperative Education (co-op) is intended to be both a technical and interpersonal educational experience and should provide students with the following opportunities:

  • Explore Career Interests and Goals
    The Cooperative Education staff is committed to providing students with a co-op experience that is most suited to their career desires and goals. The placement office has a strong on-going relationship with government, industry and NGOs and is able to connect students with organizations that are seeking specific formal skills sets. 
  • Use Government, Industry and Non-Governmental Organizations as a real world Classroom
    Through the MMA co-op program students will be able to enhance their educational experience by applying what they learned in the classroom to solve “real world” problems in government, industry and NGO’s. Practical, hands-on work experience will help students confirm their choice of major is right for them.
  • Gain Professional Experience
    Students involved in co-ops are among the most successful in securing positions in government, industry and NGOs. Co-op students gain valuable confidence that will help them succeed in the workforce by having the opportunity to further develop interpersonal, communication and leadership skills in a professional environment. Students are provided the opportunity to showcase their knowledge and skills to prospective employers. Students will cultivate a network of professional contacts that will prove helpful over the course of their careers.

For the six academic credits received, each student is required to complete a minimum of 240 hours of co-op experience for the winter and summer term, which equates to a minimum of seven full work weeks or 35, eight hour days. Because of holidays, etc., students will typically need seven to nine weeks to satisfy the minimum requirements; however, students are encouraged to work beyond the 240 hours for the additional experience, income, and extra credit on their project report. Any exceptions to this requirement must be approved in advance by the Department Chair.

Some of the sponsor organizations are large government entities, corporation, and non-governmental organizations with considerable resources to devote to the training process. Their primary concern is the training and evaluation of students in this program to develop the student as a prospective future employee. Other organizations are smaller in size and have limited resources. They wholly support the program but desire a significant contribution of productive work from the student during the co-op term. The student is expected to offer their own time and service to assist in any way.

MSSEP students are required to complete one 6-credit co-op and one 3-credit co-op.

Students are responsible to ensure that their co-op is approved in advance. Failure to do so may result in credits not being awarded. 

II Code of Conduct

A cooperative education experience is intended to be a positive learning experience for both students and the sponsoring organization. Many organizations use co-ops to develop the student as a prospective future employee. Students are direct representatives of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, the Regiment of Cadets and the MSSEP programs and as such they are expected to maintain the highest level of professional behavior and competent job performance at all times during the course of their assigned cooperative education. Many organizations that sponsor cooperative education opportunities do so because of their strong MMA alumni associations. Students are reminded that they are subject to the rules and regulations listed in the Student Regimental Manual and that any violations that are reported will be adjudicated by the Academy at the appropriate time. The student is advised to become familiar with all company policies and strictly adhere to them. Students are expected to adhere to all dress code and attendance policies as well as all safety regulations. Students are expected to be polite and courteous at all times and to be ever mindful regarding issues of sexual harassment and other Title IX issues. 

III Report Format and Oral Presentation Format and Grade Distribution

Report format and oral presentation must be followed exactly as instructed in section IV and V below. Attendance at oral presentations will be determined by the Faculty Advisor assigned to grade the co-op. The written report must include all required material. Headers must be used for each section. If you have additional related material, create appendices and list the appendices in your table of contents. No handwritten materials are allowed. All work should be original. The following is the grade distribution:

  • Written Report represents 50% of your grade:
    1. Submit in a 1 inch, 3 ring binder. Binder needs to have a cover page with your name and a title.  Name and title should also be inserted into the binder spine.
    2. Written report is due to the co-op coordinator 15 days after the start of the semester. If day 15 falls on a weekend, the report is due the following Monday.
  • Oral Presentation represents 50% of your grade:
    1. Oral Presentation will typically last 20-30 minutes. Exact schedule, format and location of presentations will be determined by the Faculty Advisor assigned to grade the co-op.

IV Required Sections for Written Report (50%)

  • Table of Contents to include appendices/Binder formatting (5%)
  • Organizational Sponsor’s Description (5%):
    1. In detail, describe the organization where you worked (location, size, number of employees, etc.), how long the organization has existed, and what government sector or industry sector(s) the organization supports. Is the organization local, regional, national or international? Is the organization domestic or foreign and if domestic, where was it incorporated? Provide the organization's website.
    2. Identify whether this is your first or a subsequent co-op with this particular organization. If the organization is a company or corporation, what industry domain does it fall under (insurance, communication, retail, transportation, aviation, maritime, finance, etc.)? What product or products does it produce? What service or services does it provide? If it is a government agency describe its role and mission relative to the government structure (federal, state, local).
    3. Provide a computer generated drawing showing the organizational structure from the top down. If it is a government organization, how is the organization structured? If it is a corporation or NGO, identify the CEO/President and the underlying corporate structure.  Include your own position in the organizational structure.  
  • Describe Your Position, Duties and Responsibilities (10%):
    1. In detail, provide the job description, job setting and job assignment. Include the department were you assigned to, the name of supervisor(s) and key co-workers. Describe the professional skills, backgrounds, and duties of your supervisor(s) and co-workers.
    2. Provide the job title and contact information for your direct supervisor.
    3. If this is a return co-op, comment on changes in responsibilities from the prior co-op and clearly describe what you did differently from the prior co-op.
    4. How do your duties and responsibilities directly relate to the MSSEP major (marine science, safety or environmental protection)? Which courses have or will be directly related to this co-op experience?
    5. Daily work log should be included in Appendix A
  • Student Career Goals (10%):
    1. In detail, what were your career goals entering into this particular co-op? Explain why you chose this co-op. What did you hope to accomplish?
    2. Were your goals met? Explain why, or why not. Did your objectives change during the co-op? 
    3. In detail, describe how the co-op education either supported your career goals or changed them. Describe your expectations as compared to your actual experience. 
  • CO-OP strength and weaknesses (5%):

       1.  Describe, in detail, the strengths and weaknesses of the MSSEP co-op. 

  • Significant Events (10%):
    1. In detail, describe memorable and important events or experiences (at least three) on the job and explain why you consider the events significant. Describe what significant events unfolded before the co-op, or that may take place after the co-op (i.e., projects that were already underway at the organization or that are anticipated to commence in the future and for which you contributed). What specific projects were you assigned and did you accomplish the assignment? What level and amount of supervision were you given? List the successes and roadblocks that you experienced and what were the positive outcomes? Your daily log accounts should match up with this section.
  • Conclusion (5%):
    1. In detail, provide comments on what was learned during the co-op and possible co-op or curriculum improvements and shortfalls. Comments on whether or not this particular co-op should be continued. What was your most significant “takeaway” from the experience? 
  • Appendices (Provide a separate title page or tab for each appendix)
    • Appendix A
      Important event log/daily log
      Provide a typed journal by day and date that documents your co-op experience. This should include but not limited to: work performed, training received, human resource issues, unique problem solving, and unique experiences. The journal pages should be 1 inch margins with each paragraph single spaced. Note: Log entries should be continuous, so there should not be a single page for each day.   
    • Appendix B
      Co-op Correspondence
      Provide a copy of your thank you letter, printed on professional letterhead and addressed to your co-op direct supervisor or mentor. Business letter format required. Provide copies of all correspondence sent to or received from the co-op sponsor.
    • Appendix C
      Student Evaluation
      Include a copy of the completed Student Evaluation (job description) form provided by the Career Services Office. The form must be completed and signed by your direct supervisor. Deliver the original to Career Services.
    • Appendix D
      Provide an updated resume that reflects this co-op experience.

V Required Sections for Oral Report (50%)

Oral Presentation will last 20-30 minutes and include a Q&A from the Faculty Advisor and the students present. All students are required to attend and participate in at least one presentation session involving multiple students. Attendance parameters and participation parameters will be determined by the individual Faculty Advisor. Student presentations will represent 50% of the overall co-op grade and will be evaluated on:

  1. Quality and professionalism of visual presentation
  2. Quality and professionalism of oral presentation 
  3. The presentation should include a description of the following: co-op organization, responsibilities throughout co-op, two-three significant events, strengths and weaknesses of co-op, and your career goals
  4. Participation in presentation process (attendance, meeting deadlines; Q&A participation for fellow speakers)

VI Administrative 

  • All students must present their updated resume for approval to Career Services prior to applying for any co-op.
  • Any student who secures their own co-op must have it approved by the MSSEP Department Chair in advance.
  • Student are responsible for meeting all program deadline dates. 


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