Co-op Internships: Introduction
Co-op Internships enhance academic course work by providing a realistic look at a chosen field and adding relevancy to classroom studies. Outcomes include professional skills development, maturity and increased motivation. A successful co-op experience also greatly increases employment opportunities upon graduation.
The term "internship" may be preferred or traditionally used with some employers or agencies. In most cases the guidelines described here are applicable to a co-op or internship and the terms are synonymous. In some programs there is a difference and students should check with their adviser or program director. Internships handled through the Career Center will operate under the same guidelines that follow.
Co-op Registration and Selection
Interested students should:
- Stop by the Career Center and make an appointment to discuss your needs and possible opportunities. Student applicants are selected for a co-op position by the employer.
- CHECK with your academic advisor for requirements specific to their program. (Requirements vary by major or emphasis)
A co-op can be either a full-time or part-time position, depending on the need of the employer and the student's class schedule.
Co-op students are paid work experiences, other than some non-profit or government agencies. Pay varies depending on the skill and experience of the student, as well as the type of business or agency.
Credits earned per semester range from one to twelve depending on amount of hours worked and program regulations. Students must check with the Career Center, faculty adviser and if applicable, the Financial Aid Office regarding credit load.
Students must pay for co-op internship credits just like any other credits.
All students receiving financial aid are strongly urged to contact the Financial Aid Office to determine possible impact on financial status.
Some employers provide housing and assist with living expenses. For those that don't, housing and living expenses are the responsibility of the student.
Evaluation of Co-op Internship
Both the university and the employer evaluate the co-op student. It is important to have ongoing communications between the employer's supervisor, the student employee, and the Career Center. The final pass / fail grade is assigned by the Career Center Director.
University staff help to develop co-op sites and make necessary arrangements; however, students may also find their own co-op internship with an employer of their choice and approval of the Career Center.
Benefits of taking Co-op Credits
Earn Credits AND a Salary
In most cases, co-op students receive paid work experience and earn credits toward a degree.
Working in the field helps to strengthen and refine career goals. Frequently, the realistic work experience will point out the usefulness of additional courses or the pursuit of a minor which could improve employability.
Build a Strong Resume
In-depth work experiences are invaluable in building a strong resume and identifying references. The opportunity to meet and work with professionals is extremely helpful in job search and networking activities. Many students are offered full-time positions by the co-op employer following graduation.
Strengthen Interpersonal Skills
Important aspects of any job include developing the ability to work cooperatively with others, learning when to listen and when to speak, dealing with pressure, and developing effective communication and supervisory skills. Professionalism and maturity are additional benefits.
Gain Insight into the Hiring Process
Co-op students learn about hiring procedures including job openings, interviewing, networking, personnel policies, fringe benefits and employment issues.