Cooperative Education Programs at Hershey Foods Corporation
L A R R Y B. C A M P B E L L
Dairy Products Research
Hershey Foods Technical Center
Hershey, PA 17033
ABSTRACT to those individuals employed in the Corporate
Students selected for co-op programs Technical Center and specifically the Research,
in dairy products research are usually in Development, and Engineering Groups.
dairy-oriented programs. They may or
may not come from universities with DEFINITIONS
formal co-op programs. The major For administrative policy, Hershey Foods
advantages of the program to the industry Corporation categorizes technical center em-
is that it provides trained candidates of ployees in one of four categories: full-time,
proven performance to fill future staff part-time, summer, and co-op. This paper will
positions as well as a pool of semi- deal only with the latter two categories.
professional talent to assist the current Co-op students are hired for a specific time
permanent staff on regular and special into a position requiring a regularly scheduled
projects. Major disadvantages include the work week of 35 h or more. They are enrolled
amount of time required to recruit and in an education program permitting work and
train new individuals as well as the study at alternating periods normally 6 mo at a
proprietary nature of research and time. This need not be restricted to a formal
development work. Co-op programs at co-op program established by the college or
Hershey Foods are successful and growing. university. In fact, several of the universities do
not have formal co-op programs in food science
or dairy science. However, an agreement is
The Hershey Foods Corporation historically worked out with the department whereby
has hired college students to work for short individual students may take a leave of absence
times. However, our use of students in specific for one or more semesters. In this case, the
curriculums for internships or cooperative student receives no college credit for co-op
education programs has been a fairly recent experience.
development. In fact, this practice developed
during and after the rapid growth phase of our C O M P E N S A T I O N A N D BENEFITS
technical staff in the late 1970's and continues Co-op students and summer employees
to the present. performing technical or professional work are
The move into a new corporate technical salaried. Other temporary employees generally
center in late 1979 corresponded with the are paid hourly. Compensation is determined
greatest expansion of our corporate technical for an individual employee by the nature of the
staff. This also was the 1st yr we hired a signifi- position, previous experience, academic at-
cant number of college co-op employees. The tainment, curriculum, and current job market
reasons were varied and will be listed in the rates. Generally, student employees are paid a
next section. However, the program developed comparable and competitive salary within the
informally in individual departments and varied industry. Co-op students are paid for holidays
greatly according to individual needs of each and inclement weather days~ If they work for
manager. Today, even though our administration 1,000 h or more in any year, they are eligible
of the program is more defined, it still varies for the company paid retirement pension plan.
widely in specifics between various departments If a co-op student later is offered full-time
and especially between disciplines. Therefore, employment, previous periods of co-op em-
remarks and opinions in this paper relate only ployment are included in establishing the
"length of service date" for benefit purposes.
Received October 18, 1982. F o r co-op employees, preemployment inter-
1983 J Dairy Sci 66:1803-1806 1803
views are paid by the company. Additionally, 3. A position documentation form must be
the student's initial trip to the job location and completed on the proposed position.
final trip back to campus also are covered. 4. A student co-op position is not a guarantee
of eventual permanent employment.
SELECTION 5. The initial hiring of a co-op student may
The school's selection is based on accredita- require more planning than the normal
tion of the curriculum, strength of the co-op recruiting assignment; therefore, adequate
time must be allowed for selection of
program, and student availability. The student's
shool, student, semester dates, and
selection is based on affirmative action goals,
potential for success, academic staff recom-
6. Each co-op student will be given an exit
mendations, grades, applicability of credentials
interview after each work period by the
toward specific requirements and qualifications
employing manager to evaluate the co-op
for the job, and interview. Recurring selection
depends on demonstrated job performance and student's experience with us.
7. Students required by their school to
academic criteria. Selection is the responsibility
submit a "paper" concerning their work
of the employing manager with the support and
assistance of the manager of employee relations. experience must have the data screened
by their department for confidentiality or
G E N E R A L PURPOSE
8. The employing manager and the manager
Some of the purposes of the co-op program of employee relations will help the
at Hershey Foods Corporation are: 1) to student locate appropriate lodging. How-
develop an available pool of talent in selected ever, the student will pay for lodging.
disciplines; 2) to provide stimulus to a de-
partment concerning the latest techniques SCOPE OF THE CO-OP
within the department's field of endeavor; 3) AND SUMMER PROGRAM
to facilitate recruitment of employees who have
Because each department has great control
a skill not always readily available on the job
over its individual program, and because the
market; 4) to provide temporary staffing
overall corporate policies only recently have
for special projects, either on-site or on campus;
been formalized, it was difficult to verify exact
and 5) to experiment with new positions numbers of students. The following tables,
without making long-range employment com-
although not necessarily complete, reflect the
scope and general direction of the two programs
Some of the purposes of the summer em- of the Hershey Foods Corporate Technical
ployment program are: 1) to provide vacation Center.
relief for full-time employees during the summer
This comparison of the total students
months; 2) to enable students who are de-
involved in both the co-op and summer pro-
pendents of full-time employees an opportunity
grams during the period 1979 to 1982 reflects
to earn extra income to defray the expenses of
the increasing interest and need for these
attaining an undergraduate degree, and 3) to
enable the employer to observe the full-time
employment potential of summer employees.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES
ADMINISTRATION OF CO-OP P R O G R A M S
Certain administration policies are outlined The co-op program at Hershey Foods is
by the Corporate Human Resources Department strictly voluntary on the part of the managers.
and include the following: Some managers are enthusiastic about it;
others are not interested.
1. Co-op positions must be supported Advantages to the individual manager
financially by the employing department. include the availability of a semi-professional
2. A personnel requisition will be submitted individual for assistance on regular projects
by the employing manager to the manager or to conduct special projects that might not
of employee relations. have been completed by the permanent staff. In
Journal of Dairy Science Vol. 66, No. 8, 1983
SYMPOSIUM: INTERNSHIPS AND COOPERATIVE EDUCATION PROGRAMS 1805
filling new staff positions or replacement addition, they know what we expect, our work
positions, a unique talent pool exists. A review environment, and whether they will like working
of former co-op students provides several for us. In essence, the usual risk involved when
candidates who are basically already trained. hiring new professional staff members is reduced
They have proven work records. We know how drastically for both parties.
they interact with other staff members. We Advantages to the student also include a way
know their communications skills, their cre- to finance an education, an opportunity to
ativity, and how they conduct a project. In accumulate work experience that will provide
an advantage for entering the job market, and
an opportunity to plan a career based on
experiences. The decision of whether to go on
TABLE 1. Numbers of students in co-op education to graduate school is often easier after a co-op
positions at Hershey Foods Corporate Technical experience. Additionally, co-op students some-
Center, 1 9 7 9 - 1 9 8 2 . times experience a new outlook in relation to
course work material with a resultant im-
1982 a 1981 1980 1979 provement in grades.
The major disadvantage of the program to
Total co-op 8 10 8 7 the manager is its short nature. Every 3 to 9 mo
Food science 3 4 5 5 a new individual must be recruited and trained.
Engineering 3 4 3 3
Other 2 2 0 0 Initial training is usually time consuming, and if
the co-op period is relatively short may result
a1982 Figures are incomplete and include only
actually in a decrease of overall productivity
those students hired January 1 thru June 1. rather than the expected increase. This is why
most employers expect a co-op student to be
available for a minimum of 6 mo and prefer an
individual who can work for 12 mo total.
TABLE 2. Numbers of college students employed Another disadvantage to the employer is the
as summer employees in the Hershey Foods Corporate proprietary nature of research and development
Technical Center, 1 9 7 9 - 1 9 8 2 . work. Most of our co-op students are involved
in all phases of product development and must
1982 a 1981 1980 1979 sign legal confidentiality agreements before
beginning work. This creates problems when
Total students 7 29 13 14 reports are required by the Univers?ty. The
Food science 2 2 4 3
possibility that a former co-op student may
Engineering 0 5 1 3
Others 5 22 8 8 accept a position with a direct competitor is
also a potential disadvantage.
ai982 Figures include only those students hired A disadvantage to the student is the dis-
prior to June 1. ruption of the normal academic process.
TABLE 3. Universities represented by food science/dairy science students at Hershey Foods Corporation,
Co-op students Summer Total
Penn State University 10 a 7a 17 a
Purdue University 3 0 3
Rutgers University 2a la 2a
Drexel University 2 0 2
University of Minnesota 1 0 1
aNumbers reflect duplication where a student has been employed in both a summer and a co-op Position
at different times.
Journal of Dairy Science Vol. 66, No. 8, 1983
Interview, searching for housing, and rearranging We now have five professionals on our staff
course schedules and timing are often major who are "graduates" of either our co-op or
inconveniences. Additionally, the co-op students summer programs. Four have been promoted at
will graduate a year later than the original class. least one time, and all are performing above
average. This is proof that the programs work
SPECIFIC CO-OP EXPERIENCES IN D A I R Y for Hershey Foods Corporation.
A N D F O O D SCIENCE P R O D U C T RESEARCH The following direct quote is an exerpt from
A T H E R S H E Y FOODS C O R P O R A T I O N a final report from a past co-op student to his
The type of student selected for dairy co-op advisor at the University:
product research is usually an individual with
proven dairy interest. Normally only students To briefly summarize what I have learned: food
in dairy-oriented programs are considered. A product formulation and improvement tech-
niques; the general procedure from benchtop to
junior usually is preferred, because course work full scale plant production; the complete
in dairy chemistry, food chemistry, food analytical and sensory evaluation and how to
microbiology, food engineering, and bio- apply this toward further improvement; the
chemistry is expected. Other food science or thorough recording and reporting of data and
dairy science courses are considered advantages. observations. Throughout my experience I have
also made some important personal gains. There
Choosing an individual out of a number of has been an improvement in my ability to
qualified candidates is not always easy. Usually, communicate in writing and verbally, I now
a telephone interview narrows the list down to have a more thorough understanding of the
three or four who are interviewed in person. food industry, specifically in research and
Previous work experience of any kind is a plus, development, and an increased appreciation of
my course work. Probably most important, I
because the student has at least a basic under- have gained much insight into choosing the
standing of what is involved in a full-time job. future direction of nay career plans and goals.
Interpersonal skills weigh heavily in the final It has been by far the most productive and
decision. Additionally, the successful candidate rewarding experience of my college career.
must convince us of a genuine interest in dairy In summary, the co-op and summer em-
product research. We also expect the candidate
ployment programs at Hershey Foods are
to have a driver's license and be able to perform
successful and growing. They appear to be
some physical work. Because pilot plant work is
meeting our objectives as listed in the beginning
involved, some mechanical aptitude is also
of this paper. Advantages outweigh disad-
vantages to both the employer and student.
These requirements may sound restrictive,
Hershey Foods Corporation is identifying and
but we have found there are many qualified
developing the pool of talented professionals
students available. Overall, we have experi-
necessary for continued growth and success of
enced few disappointments and have found
our technical programs.
many pleasant surprises.
The type of work to be done in product
research involves applied research and develop-
ment of new food prototypes from bench- The assistance of the Human Resources
top to production. A unique combination of Department personnel at Hershey Foods
benchtop, pilot plant, and plant production Corporation was appreciated greatly. Thanks
experiences is often available. We have found to Tom Tracy, Bryon Lundell, and Steve
many of the co-op students are creative, and Desjardins for their advice and editing assistance.
some actually are given project responsibility Also, thanks to Helen Brinser for assisting
for lower-priority short projects. data collection.
Journal of Dairy Science Vol. 66, No. 8, ~1983