Gain work experience and college credit through LLCC’s co-op program


Richard Bailey, Editor

Lincoln Land Community College has a Co-op program that provides students with college credit and useful work experience. Students are required to have a minimum of 12 credit hours to be eligible for the program that recently has included around 20 participants each year. That number may lead some to think that there is a finite number of slots available; but Cooperative Work Experience Coordinator, Cathy Huffman, says there is no limit to how many students can participate in the program.

“I know there are many more students out there who could benefit from this program. This is why I want to spread the word about the co-op and its benefits for students!” said Huffman.

The co-op program is a requirement for some students and their respective Associate Degree, but it is also a good fit for students who need elective credits and may otherwise be unaware of the program. As part of the program, students together with their supervisors set goals to attain. This gives the student valuable hands-on work experience, guidance, and a great chance to build confidence. Some students may already have jobs directly related to their desired field, and others may think their jobs are completely unrelated to their field of interest. In co-op, students start to see the goals set and achieved in any workplace environment can be tied directly to their career goals.

Huffman says about the program, “We see how this not only benefits them in the short term but can also contribute greatly to their future success.”

Elise Toland, who studied accounting at LLCC, heard about the co-op program after asking her accounting professor, Katie Tice, if she could receive credit for an internship that she applied for. Professor Tice then recommended the co-op program. was a seasonal employee at Sikich a job of tax scanning and other administrative work.

“Sikch is an amazing accounting firm, so I was able to learn firsthand about tax seasons in a real office setting.” She also said the experience in the related job field helped because “[I] learned how to set and meet work-related goals during my time at the co-op. Not only was I held accountable for my job duties at Sikich, but by being part of the co-op I knew my performance could reflect on LLCC so I learned a lot of professionalism and communication skills through talking with Cathy, the head of the program, and also my supervisor, who reviewed my work.”

“My advice to students interested in the co-op program is to meet with your advisor or Cathy, and see there are jobs open in your field. It was such an amazing experience for me being able to earn credit for school while also learning valuable skills that have helped me succeed after my time at LLCC. Many employers love having college students working for them and they will be flexible with your class schedule. If it is applicable to your situation and schedule, I think every student should join the co-op program.”

Elise Graduated from LLCC in the spring of 2020 and is now studying accounting at Bradley University in Peoria.