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Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture Professional Practice and Experiential Learning

Connecting Students and Employers

The Voiland Professional Practice and Experiential Learning (PPEL) office inspires students to become leaders in today’s complex global society through participation in experiential learning and professional practice activities with engaged industry partners. The PPEL office provides career-planning services to assist students in clarifying career goals through individual counseling and activities that guide students through the career development process.

PPEL coordinates the College’s internship and cooperative education program and on-campus recruiting, including:

  • interviews
  • networking events
  • technical career fairs
  • information sessions
  • job postings

Students learn lifelong job search skills, and employers hire top engineering candidates.

Internships and Cooperative Education

As part of PPEL, the Internship and Cooperative Education (Co-op) program links qualified, interested students with employers to fill engineering positions. These up-and-coming professionals can save the employer time, provide support on special projects, and invigorate the work place. In return, student interns benefit from industry knowledge and experience while exploring their chosen career path and earning academic credit. We look forward to helping students and employers connect.

Frequently Asked Questions

Internships, Co-ops, Practicums, and Externships: What’s the Difference? 1
Student work and observation experiences go by a number of different names, including internships, co-ops, practicums, and externships. Following are some general definitions.

Internships
Internships are typically a one-time work (10-12 weeks) experience related to a student’s major or career goal, often completed in the summer. Normally, an internship does not interfere with college classes, but due to the shorter duration, less training is accomplished.

Internships can be paid or unpaid and the student may or may not receive academic credit for performing the internship.

Cooperative education
Cooperative education (Co-op) is a partnership between the Voiland College, the employer and the student. It is an academic program designed to give qualified students an opportunity to practice the theory learned in the classroom with on-the-job, full-time career-related work experience. Co-ops typically are a minimum of one semester (14 weeks), but could be up to a full 12 months. Alternatively, students could participate in a Co-op experience that consists of multiple periods of full-time work experience alternating with full-time courses. Due to the longer duration, students receive more job-related training.

All co-ops are paid positions and all involve some form of academic credit.

Practicums
A practicum is generally a one-time work or service experience done by a student as part of an academic class. Typically, practicums occur over an academic term. Some practicums offer pay, but many do not. Almost all are done for academic credit.

Externships/job shadowing
An externship or job shadowing experience allows a student to spend between a day and several weeks observing a professional on the job. Such experiences are unpaid. Externships and job shadowing experiences are generally not done for academic credit.

1 Adapted from the National Association of Colleges and Employers

Are international students eligible for a co-op/internship?
Yes, international students are eligible to participate in the program. Participation in a co-op/internship counts toward the student’s Curricular Practical Training (CPT) hours. The PPEL office and the student’s academic advisor will complete the Academic Advisor Recommendation form for the student to take to International Programs for approval of the CPT.
Will employers be interested in students who don’t have experience?
Employers are looking for students and they expect that the students may not have experience outside the classroom.
Do Co-op/Internship credits count toward the student’s degree?
Up to six credits of ENGR 488 count toward graduation requirements for undergraduates. Most Voiland College majors accept Co-op/Internship credits as technical elective credits. Consult with an academic advisor in the major for help.
When is the best time to apply for jobs if there is a specific semester the student plans to work?
It is important to start the job search early as some employers make their job offers very early. Other employers are still looking for students even after the term they want to hire has begun. It’s never too early, or too late, to look for a Co-op/Internship.
If a student finds a job on his/her own, can it be a Co-op/Internship?
Yes. Very often students find jobs through other resources and would like Co-op/Internship credit. Please contact the PPEL office to make sure the job qualifies.
Can transfer students complete a Co-op/Internship?
Yes, as long as the student completes at least one semester at WSU.
Can a Co-op/Internship be extended?
Yes. Contact the PPEL office as soon as possible. Also, the student should check with the student’s academic advisor to make sure he/she understands the effect the decision will have on his/her academic plans.
Can a student take classes while working on a Co-op/Internship?
If the student is working full-time (30+ hours per week), we do not recommend taking classes. Students working full-time and are enrolled in the PPEL program are considered a full-time student at WSU. If the student is working part-time (less than 30 hours per week), the student will need to take classes to maintain full-time student status.

Upcoming Events

Contact PPEL

Office Hours: Monday-Friday, 3 – 4 p.m., or by appointment
Location: EME 202H
Phone: 509-335-3740
E-mail: vcea.internships@wsu.edu

Mailing Address

Washington State University
Voiland College Professional Practice and Experiential Learning
355 NE Spokane St., EME Building, Room 202H
PO Box 642713
Pullman, WA 99164-2713
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