What’s the difference between a Cooperative Education/Academic Internship (co-op) and an internship?
The terms Co-op and internship can be used interchangeably but there are a few differences. An internship is usually unpaid whereas traditionally Co-ops offer payment to students. A Co-op is also supervised by a faculty advisor and an employer supervisor while an internship does not usually give a student as much support. Both allow you to gain valuable work experience in your field of choice.
What is the first step in starting the Co-op process?
A student interested in doing a Co-op should call or come in to the Career Center, C 209, and schedule an appointment with his/her career advisor. The career advisor will start the intake process by making sure you meet the eligibility requirements and begin the application process.
If I don’t have a job, will the career advisor find me one?
The career advisor will assist you with the job search process and provide resources through The Archway and other job sources. You will still need to go on the interviews and get the job yourself.
What if I already have a job that I want to use as my Co-op?
This is called a job conversion and you can convert the current job if it meets certain criteria.
What are the Conversion criteria?
If students are already in positions or have recently acquired a new position on their own which they wish to convert to Co-op they must:
- not have been in the position more than two years, or
- demonstrate that new learning is taking place with expanded duties and responsibilities, new projects, etc.
- submit a current resume
- present a job description of previous duties as well as a job description on company letterhead of expanded duties while participating in Co-op
- present this information to the Co-op staff, who, with a Cooperative Education faculty advisor, will determine the suitability of the job for Cooperative Education.
If a student wishes to remain at the same site for another Cooperative Education semester, he or she must submit a new letter from a work supervisor listing new responsibilities. This new learning will also be described on the Co-op Learning Agreement. The student must then continue with the required registration procedures. Keep in mind that the job must be relevant to a student’s major and/or career goals.
How many credits can I earn for a Co-op?
Students are eligible to register for a maximum of eight academic credits that count toward graduation and are elective credits that do not count toward the major. Students electing to register for additional co-op credit (more than eight) can do so, but these credits do not count toward graduation.
How much money can I earn during this experience?
There is no limit to the amount of money students can earn; however, the main goal should not be to earn money in this experience but to gain professional experience and in some cases income toward educational expenses, link field learning to classroom learning and increase the likelihood of employment/higher salaries post-graduation
How will my grade be determined?
Student grades are determined by their faculty advisor. The grade is usually assigned based on the quality of academic assignments and employer evaluations.
Keep in mind that your academic assignment is usually the largest portion of your grade as cooperative education is an academic experience.
Are orientation and reflection sessions mandatory?
Yes, any student participating in a co-op must attend one of each session during the semester they are working. These are opportunities to learn what to expect prior to starting your co-op and to discuss your experience afterwards.
Orientation provides students with essential information for their co-op experience and reflection bridges the gap between the real world of work and the classroom. Several sessions are scheduled and students are required to register on The Archway.