Braden Scheidecker

Braden Scheidecker

For Braden Scheidecker, a chemical engineering major at Tennessee Tech, his cooperative education opportunity (co-op) was both one of the best and scariest experiences of his college years. Taking a year away from classes to work full-time in industry was a big decision with many considerations.

“I was scared for a long while but eventually, at some point, I jumped off into the deep end,” he said. “Now that I've completed my co-op, I've learned so much more than I thought I ever would have learned and have gotten that industry experience employers look for post-graduation.”

Tech’s co-op program in the Center for Career Development combines the knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Students gain hands-on experience in their field while working up to 12 months for companies all across the United States.

Scheidecker worked at Marathon Petroleum and ExxonMobil between January-December 2023.

"I've learned more about what industry I want to go into and understand really what chemical engineering looks like outside of college,” he said, “And understanding what I’m not understanding in the classroom, what I need to improve.”

He also learned the importance of asking questions, taking on challenges and not being afraid of any projects assigned.

“Don't be afraid to ask your mentor or another agent how something works. They're there for your benefit,” Scheidecker said. “There are no stupid questions in the field. You only look stupid if you don't ask questions.”

For students considering a co-op, Scheidecker advises them not to be afraid of putting their graduation on hold for a year or even just a semester in order to participate in a co-op.

"It's it is all going to be to your benefit in the end and one extra year on your degree isn't going to hurt you. It's actually going to help you more for job searching and understanding the material you are learning," he said.

For more information about co-op opportunities at Tennessee Tech, visit


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