Student working on location with an industry partner

Today's chemical engineers are hired into a broad range of industries including petroleum, polymers, petrochemicals, micro-electronics, food, pharmaceutics, and pulp and paper, as well as various consulting and government agencies. Within each of these industries, jobs can be varied from process engineering, to design, to research and development, to strategic planning. However, few students know what they want to do when they graduate, or what type of job they will prefer.

At the same time, companies are looking for students that they can hire in their sophomore and junior years, and that they can groom for eventual positions of leadership and management in their organizations.

Are you up for the challenge and associated benefits?

  • Gain meaningful industrial experience
  • Learn about industry and find out what kind of career is right for you
  • Build your resume and gain references
  • Earn money to help pay for school


If so, consider enrolling in the co-operative education program. Options vary depending on employer, but typically involve two or three work periods, each lasting 4-6 months. Work/study plans often involve alternate semesters of school work with semesters of co-op, and summer co-op positions may be available to students who co-op during the preceding spring or the following fall semester. Student who are out on work assignments do not pay college tuition.

Example: Co-op Option 1
  Fall Spring Summer
Year 1 school school  
Year 2 school school work
Year 3 work school work
Year 4 work school school (UO Lab)
Year 5 school school

Example work/study plans can be found below, but other plans can be developed to meet the specific needs of each student. 

CHE Co-Op Option 1 Checksheet

CHE Co-Op Option 2 Checksheet

CHE Co-Op Option 3 Checksheet


Companies that hire Chemical Engineering co-op students

The list changes every year, but here are a few companies that routinely hire co-op students from Chemical Engineering at Virginia Tech:



BAE Systems  








U.S. Gypsum (USG)


How to get started:

  • Make sure you are signed up for "Handshake"
  • Learn more about co-ops before interviewing by attending a Co-op & Internship Program (CEIP) Information Session.   
  • Polish up your resume and plan to attend a career fair (like Engineering Expo in September) and/or apply to Co-ops and Internships through Handshake.  Or apply on the company's website or another commercial job board.  
  • Prepare your Elevator Pitch and practice your interview skills.  The Career Center has great resources for this.
  • Interview
  • Develop your plan of study with your academic advisor, Dr. Whiting. 

If you are offered:

  • Discuss your offer with Dr. Whiting.  
  • Accept your offer through Handshake.
  • Attend a Mandatory Orientation Session at the Smith Career Center.