Employment in ChBE and Beyond

Opportunities for Current ChBE Students

It is imperative that academic learning be complimented by experiences outside the classroom, including:

These experiences will help you to determine the right career path for you. GET STARTED NOW!
 

Job Opportunities Within ChBE

The Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at CU-Boulder needs the best and brightest to help us educate our students and continue our strong research program. Apply for a faculty or postdoctural position!

Ryan Haines at Bend ResearchWhere Can You Find Out About Internships and Full-Time Employment? 

  • Sign up with Career Services. Most companies advertise their job opportunities here.
  • Check the ChBE Job Board and ChBE Grad Student & Postdoc Job Board.
  • Optimize your resume & cover letter. Make an appointment (303-492-6541) with a Career Services Counselor to review and optimize your resume and cover letter.
  • Join the undergraduate mailing list. If you are not already on it, email us and ask to be added to the undergraduate mailing list che-undergrad@lists.colorado.edu. Please do not email this list itself or you will get an error. Job opportunities and other pertinent info are sent out through this listserve.
  • Attend the Career Fairs. There are typically 3 career fairs a year: one in the fall (late September / early October), one in January, and one in April.
  • Join the ChBE LinkedIn Group. Build your professional network and learn about department updates and job information.
  • Attend professional events. Learn about events by looking at our events calendar , the engineering events calendar, and the Career Events calendar in Career Buffs (login required).
  • Attend informational talks. Afterwards, introduce yourself to the speaker(s).
  • Join a student society. Network with speakers and develop critical leadership/teamwork skills.
     

How Do You Apply for Internships and Full-Time Employment?

  • In some cases, you apply through Career Services
  • In other cases, you must proactively apply online through the company website (see the "Companies" tab for some company links)
  • Sometimes you can give your resume directly to the hiring manager during a career fair or informational session
    • Always bring a resume and if possible a business card to give to company representatives at career fairs, networking events, or informational sessions
    • Even if the company requires you to apply online, the representative may still be involved in the hiring process
 
John ThileniusThe best part about the co-op program is by far the connections you make and the experience you gain. I feel so much more confident in my schooling and about my ability to perform well in the real world after doing a co-op at Chevron.  -John Thilenius

The Cooperative Education Program (Co-Op Program) is a professional development program that allows undergraduate students to alternate professional work experiences with classroom coursework.

Students typically complete a total of one year of work at their co-op company by either working continuously for a year or alternating work sessions with academic terms.  Co-ops are typically completed during the sophomore or junior years.

Co-op experiences are paid and result in academic credit, although this credit does not apply towards the student’s degree.  Co-op students receive an official entry on their transcript for each co-op experience, as well as a certificate of completion at graduation.

Andy WillettWorking in a smaller company (Sundrop Fuels), I was able to see many aspects of the business such as how to collect the necessary raw materials needed and how to turn those materials into the desired product.     -Andy Willett
Tyler GleditschThe challenges of my co-op at TDA Research enabled me to broaden my understanding and implementation of a problem’s solution. I was also able to develop career goals for my next position.  -Tyler Gleditsch
Sarah HoytMy opportunities at BaraFold and Protonex have helped open my eyes to the world of research and to better understand what a career in research would be like.    -Sarah Hoyt

Co-op Companies

Please contact the ChBE Co-op Coordinator with any questions about the program or if your company is interested in participating. 

Many thanks to past and present participating companies Chevron, Bend Research, Sundrop Fuels, Givaudan, Roche, TDA Research, Barafold, ConocoPhillips, Amgen and Dow!

Further general information on co-ops can be found on the College of Engineering and Applied Science Co-op website.

Why Do a Co-op?
  • Andy WillettEarn and learn: get paid during each work session ($17-$25/hr is typical)
  • Become more marketable post-graduation
  • Obtain a more technical and immersive experience due to multiple and longer work sessions
  • Help improve your academic performance by relating it to your real-world experiences
  • Confirm (or change!) your career choice
  • Work yet keep your scholarship
  • Receive a Cooperative Education Certificate
  • Apply your education to real-world problems using state-of-the-art equipment

 

A co-op allows you to take a step forward in your career and see what life would be like in that certain career path and then just as soon as you get a good picture of that field, you get to go back to school and decide if that is where you would like to return when you graduate.   -Andy Willett (Sundrop Fuels)

About Employment

John Thilenius

  • Work sessions involve full-time paid employment; students may not attend school during work sessions

  • Co-op will add one year to your academic schedule, usually resulting in a 5-year B.S. plan
  • Employers must arrange challenging and major-related work for the student, increasing technical involvement and responsibility as the student progresses
  • By the end, job responsibilities should be similar to those expected of a college graduate

 

Some of my projects at Chevron included debottlenecking a side-cut, optimizing the stripping steam in the atmospheric column, building catalyst loading tools, and working on design projects for international clients.    -John Thilenius

Qualifications
  • CHEN/CBEN major
  • Sophomore or juniors preferred (seniors may also apply)
  • GPA > 2.75 (though > 3.00 is strongly recommended)
  • For EACH work session, you must register through the College of Continuing Education for CHEN 3930 (6 credit hour course) and pay the co-op fee of $180
    • Note: these credits unfortunately do not apply towards the student’s degree (not even for free electives)
  • At the end of each work session, submit a written report (details in the Co-op Handbook
  • Three (3) co-op work sessions with the same employer must be completed to earn a Certificate of Cooperative Education upon graduation
     
How to Apply through the Dept

Tyler Gleditsch

  • ChBE Co-op Coordinator Wendy Young will email undergraduate students soliciting resumes and cover letters; please respond by the date given in the email
    • Strong suggestion: contact Career Services for help polishing your resume
    • You may also include a cover letter if desired
  • A full resume packet is sent by the Co-op Coordinator to interested employers soon afterwards
  • Interviews will be arranged by employers at their convenience
  • Offers will be made as employers determine their needs

 

I felt that as a student I wasn’t aware of what a chemical engineer’s job was like until my senior year. It’s too bad that more students don’t get this kind of opportunity. -Tyler Gleditsch (TDA Research)

Some Companies Require You to Apply Online
  • There are some companies to which you MUST apply online; for these companies, please apply online and if accepted, contact the ChBE Co-op Coordinator to enroll in the dept program and retain student status
  • A list of company links can be found under the "Apply Online" tab
  • Please note that in many cases, an "internship" can be elongated into a co-op; if interested, ask the company if this is possible (i.e., ask to extend a summer work session into the fall and possibly into the spring as well). 
Once You Are In the Co-op Program (congrats!)

Co-op Companies
Thank you for considering participation in the ChBE Co-op Program! Our program is currently in a rebuilding phase, and as such we are absorbing all administrative fees ourselves. Let us help you connect with top student talent!

Employer Responsibilities
  • Provide a paid, professional work experience that allows the student to be part of a team
  • Commit to providing multiple or elongated work sessions, typically totaling a year
    • Work sessions include fall and/or spring semesters (they cannot be all summer)
    • Work sessions totaling less than a year are possible; please work with the Co-op Coordinator
  • Arrange challenging work for the student
  • Ensure that assigned work is major-related
  • Increase technical involvement and level of responsibility as the student progresses
  • If possible, incorporate a large spectrum of the company's activities (and if possible, locations)
Why Host a Co-op Student?
  • More in-depth and mutually beneficial experience due to multiple and longer work sessions (15-week instead of usual 10-week summer internship)
  • Access to and retention of top talent
  • Low-risk opportunity to try out new employees
  • Opportunity to develop new positions and leaders from within
  • Pipeline to grow a diverse workforce

“Typically, former co-op students, when hired full time by a previous co-op employer, receive more rapid promotions and have a higher retention rate than non-co-op hires."
—Cooperative Education as a Source of Labor Supply to Firms in the College Labor Market: Analysis of Data from Four Case Study Firms

What Skill-Sets Do the Students Have?
  • A strong foundation in general science, engineering principles, and critical thinking
  • Practical  chemistry and organic chemistry lab experience
  • Engineering computing (Excel, MatLAB, MathCAD, Hysys)
  • Analytical problem solving (calculus, physics, material & energy balances, error analysis & propagation)
  • Communication and collaboration skills
  • Introductory courses in bioengineering, biology and genetics
  • Often organic 2, physical chemistry, fluid dynamics and linear algebra & differential equations
Logistics
  • First, let the ChBE Co-op Coordinator know you are interested in participating
  • The co-op coordinator provides the company contact a set of resumes by the end of September
    • Note that we can accomodate an alternate hiring timeframe (including earlier than Sept); please email the co-op coordinator to work out the details
  • Employers directly interview and hire students of their choice
    • The Co-op Coordinator can help facilitate interviews
    • There is no designated timeline for contacting/interviewing students
  • The employer and student decide on the work schedule that works for both (i.e. one continuous year, alternate work/school, start in Jan or May, etc.)
  • The employer pays the co-op just as they would an intern
    • Pay rate is typically between $17-$25/hr
    • Pay rate usually increases each work session
  • The company pays NO fees to the department
Employer Testimonials

Thad Sauvain"Having a co-op at Chevron enables the student to experience several different areas of the company while providing broad visibility for the student among the hiring managers.  The student can start to determine what type of work interests him/her which is invaluable when job offers are in front of them. The company can also judge the student's performance and determine where his/her skills fit the best. It is a win-win situation for all involved."
                         - Thad Sauvain, Process Engineering Manager (Chevron)
 

Dana Settell

“CU’s co-op program enables Bend Research to access talented young engineers in a way that facilitates longer term relationships often leading to full time employment. The mutually beneficial experience injects a progressive mind set and work ethic to the programs at Bend Research and the students receive career mentoring and real world experience. As such it is one of our most valued university connections and most efficient means of identifying successful long time employees.”
                       - Dana Settell, Vice President, Alliances (Bend Research)
 

"The CU Co-op Program provides us with young aspiring engineers whose skills and efforts make daily contributions to the success of our organization. Many of our breakthrough developments would not have been possible without the contributions of our CU co-op students."
 - Rick Dauer, Group Leader, Process Engineering and Automation (Roche Colorado)

We asked co-op students to tell us what they did during their work sessions; what skills they gained; to which classes their work provided perspective; how work was different from school; if working multiple work sessions was beneficial; what general learning they gained; and their closing thoughts on co-ops.

John ThileniusJohn Thilenius during his co-op with Chevron

John Thilenius - Chevron

CBEN junior John Thilenius is currently finishing up his co-op.

Duties: I worked on long-term projects but also had daily duties to keep the refinery running at its peak efficiency. Some of my projects included debottlenecking a side-cut, optimizing the stripping steam in the atmospheric column, building catalyst loading tools, and working on design projects for international clients. The most interesting thing I learned during my co-op was that how to build a model simulation of a desired refinery for a client through various programs, and use the simulation’s flows and parameters in order to size and design the heat exchangers, columns, and vessels. 

Skills gained: Effective collaboration. I also learned to model a refinery through various programs, and use a particular simulation’s flows and parameters in order to size and design the heat exchangers, columns, and vessels. Moreover, the co-op helped show me how the skills I learned in school were used and now I feel I get more out of my classes knowing what to focus on.

Class perspective: Working helped add a lot of perspective to my classes and in particular to heat transfer because knowing how to conserve energy efficiently and applying the right amount needed for various processes is crucial. I started my co-op before I took heat transfer and after working with heat exchangers, fins, and fans in the field, it made the class seem much more beneficial as well as easier. 

Work vs. school: When you’re done with work for the day the rest of the day is yours without the stress of tests of homework. You collaborate with many more people and the work you do has a tangible value. There is more of a constructive attitude where something you did might be used and critiqued for years to come.  

Multiple sessions: In each session I was able to get a very different perspective of the company and the work I did which I was then able to apply to whatever my current position was. For example, during my first session I worked in the refinery, and so when my second session came around and I started to work for the technology-marketing group TEMA, I was able to take my knowledge of how refineries operated and use that knowledge to help me design them and size the equipment.

General learning: Seeing people from so many different fields working together at Chevron, I really learned how general an engineering degree is. It showed me how crucial internships and co-ops in particular are because they introduce you to fields you are interested in early on. When finally looking for a job, companies can see you have the industry experience and are more familiar with the work.

Closing thoughts: The best part about the co-op program is by far the connections you make and the experience you gain whereas the worst part tends to be taking a break from school; however, it is completely worth it. I don’t believe co-ops are as desired as they should be. I feel so much more confident in my schooling and about my future and in my ability to perform well in the real world after doing a co-op. The positives far outweigh anything else and I would highly recommend it to anyone considering doing one.

Andy WillettCo-op participant Andy Willett at Sundrop Fuels

Andy Willett - Sundrop Fuels, Inc.

CHEN sophomore Andy Willett began his co-op in January of this year.

Duties: A large portion of my co-op has been spent operating a gasification process. My company is also helping me to get a deeper experience by having me spend some time helping build or run other projects.

Skills gained: Acquiring an understanding of how a process is run effectively and how to use and collect data in an effective manner.

Class perspective: I started my co-op when I was a sophomore, so there are still many chemical engineering courses ahead of me that were a mystery to me before my co-op. I feel like now I have a general idea of what to expect when I get to classes like heat transfer and controls.

Work vs. school: In my first two years of school, I felt like I still didn't have a full understanding or what real life chemical engineers do. In my co-op I learned many of the roles that a chemical engineer can play from being an operator of a process to doing the modeling for a process. Moreover, in school you are always working with your peers, but in the workplace your coworkers are often older than you, more experienced, or both. This makes group dynamics at work different from those at school.

Multiple sessions: I am currently working my second consecutive session and I feel that my elongated time with my company has allowed me to bridge the gap between being a short-term intern and being an actual employee. Working for six months straight has allowed me to work on and operate larger projects that I would not likely have been able to tackle if I were around for one term.

General learning: It has been very interesting getting to see first-hand how much effort, thought, and hard work go in to developing a start-up company. Working in a smaller company, I have been able to see many aspects of the business, such as how to collect the necessary raw materials needed and how to turn those materials into the desired product.

Closing thoughts: I know that I am gaining very valuable experience that may set me apart in the hunt for that next internship or job; I also know it will take me some time to get reacquainted upon returning to school after such a long time away. A co-op allows you to take a step forward in your career and see what life would be like in that certain career path and then just as soon as you get a good picture of that field, you get to go back to school and decide if that is where you would like to return when you graduate.

Tyler GleditschTyler Gleditsch

Tyler Gleditsch - TDA Research, Inc.

Spring 2013 CHEN graduate Tyler Gleditsch completed a co-op after his sophomore year.

Duties: I operated bench scale testing apparatuses to characterize sorbent and catalyst properties.

Skills gained: Organization. Teamwork.  Public speaking.  Professionalism. I took the challenges of my co-op and was able to broaden my understanding / implementation of a problem’s solution. I was also able to develop career goals for my next position.

Class perspective: Controls. I basically tuned PID controllers in my co-op and so this material was very interesting to me.

Work vs. school: Work is a place where problems are solved over months and months, while in school you might have 2.5 hours for a final exam.  In a workplace, getting the job done correctly is most important; at school, getting the answer fast is important. Work also gives you a better idea of how different types of engineers work together in different roles.

Multiple sessions: Co-ops are awarded more responsibility and more time-consuming problems.

General learning: Research requires a lot of time, effort, money, and the principal investigator is not guaranteed success.

Closing thoughts: I felt that as a student I wasn’t aware of what a chemical engineer’s job was like until my senior year.  It’s too bad that more students don’t get this kind of opportunity.
 

Sarah Hoyt

Read an interview with co-op student Sarah Hoyt.