New co-op program assures employment post-graduation


GVL / Aida Dennis

Ashley Moubray, Staff Writer

The Laker Accelerated Talent Link is a new program launching in August. It aims to provide students with an opportunity to establish themselves professionally while still attending Grand Valley State University. 

The Laker Accelerated Talent Link “enhances” GVSU’s current co-op program and creates a new co-op opportunity for interested students at GVSU. The program provides students with an opportunity to get hands-on experience to develop their professional skills while guaranteeing post-graduation employment for at least a year.

The current co-op program is a work-training program for GVSU, particularly for students majoring in engineering or hospitality and tourism management, in which students have at least two full or part-time paid work experiences for a whole semester.

What differentiates Laker Accelerated Talent Link from a typical co-op and internship program is its post-graduation work agreement. As an intern for their employer sponsor, students agree to work for the employer for one year after graduating if they are offered a full-time position. 

There are three main components of the program. After students are accepted into the program, they will receive an employer-sponsored scholarship to help students complete a certificate program within the bachelor’s degree. The four certification programs include project management, applied data analytics, business fundamentals and technical sales. 

Additionally, students in the program must complete a one-semester paid internship with their employer sponsor before graduating. During this time students will gain real-life experience and build professional relationships in the Grand Rapids area. From this experience, students enter into an agreement that, post-graduation, they will work for their partnering employer for one year. 

There are currently five businesses that will partner with the Laker Accelerate Talent Link program: Amway, Cascade Engineering, Corewell Health, Michigan Software Labs and Acrisure. GVSU will also be an employer partner that students can work for. 

Some students are excited about this new educational employment opportunity. 

“I think it’s a great idea and will open up a lot of unique and exciting learning experiences for both students and businesses,” said GVSU junior Avery Tuller. “I really like the idea of students getting real-life experiences that will better prepare them for their futures.”

Tuller said while the Laker Accelerated Talent Link sounds like a great opportunity to make professional connections, GVSU has not done much to promote its launch. Additionally, Tuller said the program seems limited in who it benefits, as it offers only four certification programs.

Senior Daniel Bottke said he would’ve definitely considered participating in the Laker Accelerated Talent Link, had it been available during his time at GVSU. However, he also said technical sales is not necessarily a field where students struggle to find employment. He feels that there are many other certifications that students and employers alike may better benefit from if offered by the university.

“Anyone who wants to be in sales and has the personality for it would likely be able to get their own internships without signing onto a contract with a supporting company,” Bottke said. “Something like supply chain management may be in more need of the help in an area like that.”

While the new co-op program offers students with a better opportunity at an internship and post-graduation employment, it’s still a new development and could potentially have some changes in the future.

In order to apply for Laker Accelerated Talent Link, students must be of good academic standing and juniors expected to graduate in May or August of 2024. Applications from students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) and Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies are especially encouraged to apply.