Down on the Farm

When you talk about growing the economy, you're really talking about growing the workers

At Monsanto Co., where most of the co-op students are in computer programming or bio-informatics, the pay is better than what a lot of people make after graduating from college.

"They can make good money," says Larry O'Neill, Monsanto's director of public affairs. For Monsanto's co-op students, the range of salaries is $2,300-$3,200 a month, he says. "That's 40 hours a week. They usually take a semester off from school to do the co-op. The higher range of pay is for kids closer to graduation. They're in a variety of areas, but it's mostly the computer area."

Aside from the monetary aspects, SIUE's Bullock tells students that it's important to work while in school, especially if the job is career-related.

And, still, there is the money.
"They get very good pay," Bullock says. "We have students that are making $15-$20 per hour. We've got 160 students doing co-op (at SIUE), and most of them are in engineering and computer science."

Not surprisingly, computer science and engineering are two of the hottest areas for new graduates (see main story).

"Talent trend of the future"
So are co-ops here to stay, or are they just a fad, a blip on the screen?
During the 1980s, when corporate downsizing swung into full gear, many large companies cut back on their college-recruiting efforts, and some eliminated them entirely. Now these companies are finding that to compete for the top students and potential employees of the future, they need to have relationships in place on campus.

"We're reviewing our process for the future," says Kim Cousin, a staffing consultant with Monsanto's human-resources department. "We're looking to have a very powerful presence on campuses.

"Co-ops are the talent trend of the future. We don't want to miss out on bright, fresh talent. It works both ways. We expose students to Monsanto. We bring an intelligent mind-share."

And Monsanto certainly won't be alone out there.
"It's very competitive," Cousin says. "We're taking our alums back on campus with us to help recruit. We're looking for the best and the brightest."

It seems that a farm system is firmly in place, thanks to good old competition.

-- Michael Kunz

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