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COVID-19 Guidance for Spring/Summer 2020

Check below for guidance from the Office of Engineering Professional Practice concerning the spring and summer semesters. For more information about COVID-19 in general, please review the college’s and university’s websites.

As students will be mainly on-campus during the fall semester, please know that UT and our Engineering Professional Practice office is still open with limited staffing during the semester. We advise contacting our office via email or phone prior to stopping in to ensure the person you might want to see is on campus.

If interested in a spring or summer 2021 co-op/internship role, our office staff is still able to help you. You may connect with us by contacting our office at coop@utk.edu or reaching out to your Professional Practice advisor directly. Students with last names A-L should contact Tonya Shortt and students with last names M-Z should contact Suzanne Sawicki. Our Professional Practice advisors can still connect with you via email, phone, Zoom, FaceTime or Skype to help provide guidance on the best companies for you to engage and help you with resume review, mock interview preparation, etc.

Our office will host our annual fall cookout in the form of a virtual welcome back event with participating employers and our Fall 2020 Engineering Expo will be help virtually as well.

Once you accept a spring or summer 2021 co-op or internship position, we need you to let our office know so we can ensure your status with the university is handled appropriately.

Students on Co-op/Internship

While you are still considered a full-time student, you have also entered into a paid, full-time working relationship with your employer and in many cases are a vital part of their engineering team. We recognize that your co-op assignment is a valuable part of your engineering education, and for many students it is also an important of your economic situation as well. For both of these reasons we know that many of you will want to find and/or continue your work assignments. The employers we have spoken with are hopeful the COVID-19 situation will be short-lived and many are anticipating things will be much closer to “normal” for the spring and summer of 2021.

In general, we are supportive of you staying in your co-op assignment and working as long as you feel you are in a safe situation. We support you being allowed to work remotely and/or with an altered work schedule to ensure you are maintaining appropriate social distancing. As long as you complete your professional practice work report, you will still be eligible for EF333 credit for your assignment. If you have any concerns, please know that our office is here to help you and to help you engage your employer about your situation.

If your employer has taken increased safety measures and you still feel unsafe, we will support you asking to take a 2-4 week pause in your work assignment or to possibly even be released completely from your co-op assignment. Please reach out to your Professional Practice advisor directly so we can help you navigate this with your employer. Students with last names A-L should contact Tonya Shortt and students with last names M-Z should contact Suzanne Sawicki.

If you find yourself not feeling well and need to self-isolate, the university asks that you fill out this Student and Student-Employee COVID-19 Self-Isolation form to notify the dean of students.

While our students are mostly on campus and attending classes through a mix of in-person and remote instruction our office will be open with minimal staffing with the those working remotely still available via phone, email or Zoom. Also, please know that UT and the Tickle College of Engineering are still open. Since our staff is mostly still working remotely, contacting us initially via email is best.

If you are looking to recruit engineering students into positions that are set to begin in the spring summer or 2021, you may do so by contacting our office at coop@utk.edu and/or simply posting the position in our ProConnect system. If you know of your recruiting needs prior to our September 15th Engineering Expo, we highly encourage you to participate in this event.

While the majority of TCE students that are typically on-campus during this spring semester have moved to participating in their coursework online, over 100 of our engineering students are currently working in their co-op assignments away from campus. If you are an employer currently hosting one or more co-op students, please read Employers currently hosting TCE students section.

Employers Currently Hosting TCE Students

While co-op students are still considered by UT as full-time students, they have also entered into a work relationship with your company and in many cases are a vital part of your engineering teams. Many students use the earnings from their co-op position to continue to attend school. Co-op (and internship) are a valuable part of a  student’s engineering education both from a work experience standpoint and from an earnings standpoint. For both of these reasons many of our co-op students will want to continue their assignments.

We do want to ensure students working on their assignments are staying safe. Generally, we support our engineering students’ continuing to work as long as they are in safe situations and/or allowed to work remotely. Ultimately, we will handle each student’s work situation on a case-by-case basis and if a student feels unsafe, we will support the student asking for a 2-4 week pause in their work assignment or to possibly even be released completely from their co-op assignment. We request the student contact our office to assist with this process of engaging your supervisory and HR teams if they believe a pause in their work assignment is needed. Likewise we ask each employer to keep our office informed if they begin the process of reducing or eliminating the co-op student’s role so we can engage the student during this time as well.

For Students Currently on Co-op/Internship

My assignment is placed on hold right now. What should I do?

Make sure you understand your working requirements which could mean you are working remotely until further notice or you need to sit tight and wait until you are given the go ahead to return to work.

I have been placed on hold or sent home. Will I still be paid?

All discussions regarding pay while you are on hold or temporary leave from the assignment should be discussed with your HR representative or your supervisor. Please contact your Engineering Professional Practice advisor so we can help you in your conversations with your employer as well.

I am not sure I feel safe on my current assignment. Who should I talk to about my situation?

All questions regarding safety while on your current assignment would normally first be discussed with your company supervisor or HR representative.  Also, please be sure to notify your Engineering Professional Practice advisor to let them know your concerns. Please do not leave your assignment until you have notified the company of your concerns.

Several employees in other departments are working remotely and I am not. How can I work remotely?

Discuss the possibility of work options with your supervisor or HR representative to see what accommodations can or could be arranged for you while on your assignment.

For Students that Have Accepted a Fall Assignment

I have already accepted an offer for a work assignment. How will I know if this will still take place?

Your employer will let you know if anything changes related to your start date or the assignment itself. If you are unsure what to do, please contact our office: coop@utk.edu

My assignment starts in a few weeks and I haven’t heard anything from my employer. What should I do?

Feel free to reach out to your HR contact directly. If you have trouble with this, please engage your professional practice advisor directly or our office at coop@utk.edu

I have accepted a position for the upcoming fall term. What do I need to do?

Please contact our office and provide a copy of your offer letter and we’ll work with you to ensure you are registered with our office. We will help you through the steps that must be taken with our office and with the university prior to you starting to work.

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