President's Scholar Sonia Cervantes poses with
her RAFB co-op supervisor, Franklin Holland, at Macon
State's graduation ceremony in May. Holland is a section
chief in the Contracting Directorate.
Macon State's Co-op Partnership
with Robins Air Force Base Gives Top Business Majors Professional
By Renee Pearman
Sonia Cervantes had a terrific senior year at Macon State
During honors convocation in the spring, she was selected the top
marketing major by the Business and Economics Division faculty, as
well as the 2005 President's Scholar, the College's highest academic
What happened next was the icing on the cake. After receiving her
bachelor's degree in business last spring, Cervantes, 25, stepped
right into a full-time position as contract specialist for the
Directorate of Contracting at Robins Air Force Base.
The job offer followed her participation in Macon State's Student
Career Experience Program, a cooperative education, or co-op,
opportunity with Robins. She was among the 10 Macon State students
chosen to take part in the College's first co-op with the Base.
“I've had the opportunity to start my career in a professional
area with very knowledgeable people,” said Cervantes, who lives in
Warner Robins. “The training received has been way above my
expectations, and I am continually learning new things.”
The first Macon State/Robins AFB co-op began in January 2004. Ten
of the 20 students selected were from Macon State, which was among
three midstate colleges and universities signing on for the program.
Another co-op, this one also in Contracting, got underway earlier
this year. David Taylor is one of the five MSC students taking part
in that round, which he called “on-the-job training at its best.”
“Having an opportunity to be trained by people who have been
performing the job for over 20 years is a plus,” Taylor added. “This
type of training sets you up to succeed in the job.”
All Macon State juniors and seniors who are business majors with
at least a 3.0 grade point average are invited to apply for the Base
co-op. The selection process includes an interview with a panel of
Robins' civil service supervisors.
Students work 20 hours per week at the Base while attending Macon
State. They must be able to complete at least one year in the co-op
before graduating. The college juniors are paid at the federal GS-04
level, currently $11.80 per hour, while seniors receive GS-05 pay of
$13.20 per hour. They also receive benefits including life and
health insurance, annual/sick leave and holidays. If offered jobs
after graduation, they come in at a GS-07 pay grade ($31,830 in
2004) and within two years move to GS-11 pay ($47,110 in 2004).
“From our first group of 10, nine are now working full-time at
the Base,” said Dr. Linda Cooper, professor of business and
coordinator of MSC's Student Career Experience Program. “It's a
great opportunity for our students because it provides them with the
chance to earn good part-time money while applying the skills they
are learning in college to an actual work experience.”
The Contracting Directorate co-op students hone their skills in
market research, acquisition planning, procurement and price
negotiations. Each student partnered with a qualified, experienced
contracting officer who is responsible for his or her training. By
the end of each co-op, students will have completed approximately
640 hours of work at Robins.
Eleven Macon State juniors and seniors are part of a third co-op,
which started in September and is with the Directorate of Logistics.
A fourth Base co-op is in the interviewing stage.
With about 40 percent of Robins workers now -- or soon to be --
eligible for retirement, the co-op partnership is one of the ways
Macon State will help the Base replenish its professional workforce.
“The co-op experience provides Robins the chance to train its
employees and determine if these students will work well there
before hiring them full time,” Cooper said. “Both parties get the
chance to see prior to full-time employment if the partnership is a
good fit. It's a win-win situation for everyone.”
Macon State College business majors interested in learning
about future co-op programs with Robins Air Force Base can contact
Dr. Linda Cooper at (478) 471-2724 or email@example.com.
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