Henry Ford Community College student Jeremy Lance had little idea that returning to college at age 30 and obtaining a cooperative education (co-op) position at HFCC would significantly alter his life plans and lead him toward his dream career.
It did, and the experience paid off in more ways than one. Lance was recently awarded second place and a $250 scholarship in the Carol Quandt Student Essay Contest for writing about his co-op experience at HFCC in an essay titled, ‘A Change of Plans.’ Lance was the first community college student ever to win an award in the statewide essay contest.
The contest was sponsored by the Michigan Council for Internships and Cooperative Education. Students were asked to write about factors that have been most influential in making their co-op experience valuable. The contest was open to co-op students from all Michigan colleges and universities.
Lance, 30 of Inkster, enrolled at HFCC in the winter 2007 semester to earn a degree in Computer Information Systems (CIS) so he could advance in his job, after working more than a decade in information technology in a corporate setting. Lance also enrolled in the Cooperative Education program at HFCC to earn money and to add more experience to his resume. At first, he did not realize how much he would learn from the program, which combines work experience with college credit.
“I can say that my time with HFCC’s Co-op program has been a life altering experience,” explained Lance. “Employers work with you and your schedule, which is very beneficial.”
Lance began his co-op position working as a lab tech in HFCC’s student computer lab. His job included helping Computer Information Systems (CIS) students with their course work and with lab equipment, as well as other jobs around the lab. It wasn’t until he was asked to assist students in a large introductory computer class that he discovered he had an interest in teaching.
“I learned I enjoyed teaching college students and found new opportunities before me,” notes Lance. “Teaching was always something I wanted to do, but I didn’t realize that teaching at the college level was something attainable for me.”
Working with CIS students allowed Lance to deal with a variety of students with different needs, goals, abilities, learning methods, and skill levels, and he wrote about the benefits of that in his essay.
“Just two short semesters has already improved my ability to explain a concept from many different perspectives,” Lance wrote. “This time spent has also served to teach me new ways to communicate effectively with students.”
Lance, who also is a member of HFCC’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter, the national honor society for two-year college students, has been invited to be an unofficial tutor this semester, which allows him to sit in on lab time for two separate CIS 125 classes to provide extra instruction to students as they complete their assignments.
“The experience, as a whole, has been extremely gratifying,” says Lance. “The feeling of working with someone who is having a problem with a concept and being there when they have that ‘breakthrough moment,’ and to know that I was a part of that process, is something I wish to remain a part of.”
“I can’t imagine having ever had the chance to take part in this type of work without this co-op position.”
HFCC’s Cooperative Education program provides students with both work experience and classroom instruction. Students are employed in practical, paid positions directly related to their educational and career goals. Students receive a paying job, a letter grade, and college credit while enrolled in the co-op program at HFCC. Students registered in co-op must fulfill all terms of employment as well as attend regular class sessions and complete all course requirements.
To enroll in the co-op program, students must first pick up an application from the Co-op Office, located in room T-112 in HFCC’s Technology Building on the main campus located at 5101 Evergreen in Dearborn. Students must also prepare a resume and meet with a Cooperative Education specialist to submit the completed application and resume. Resume guidelines as well as more HFCC co-op information can be found at www.hfcc.edu/coop.
“Jeremy is a joy to work with,” says Nancy Stupsker, HFCC cooperative education specialist. “He had received excellent feedback from his co-op supervisor not only for his outstanding computer skills, but for his ability to work well with students. I am very proud to have him represent our college.”
In the future, Lance plans on attending the University of Michigan-Dearborn to earn a bachelor’s degree and hopes to come back to HFCC as a CIS instructor.
“If I could make any suggestion to potential co-op students, it would be try something new,” Lance wrote in his essay. “Do not simply do what you have always done. Instead, take this relatively risk-free opportunity to spend a semester doing something different. It might open up a new avenue of possibility for you that you had no idea existed.”
For more information on HFCC’s Cooperative Education program, please call Stupsker at 313-845-6359. For more information on HFCC, visit www.hfcc.edu or call 1-800-858-HFCC (4322).