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 are typically a one-time (10-12 weeks) work 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 (co-op) education 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.
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.
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.
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 Internships and Career Services 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.
Employers are looking for students and they expect that the students may not have experience outside the classroom.
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
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.
Yes. Very often students find jobs through other resources and would like co-op/internship credit. Contact the Internships and Career Services office to make sure the job qualifies.
Yes, as long as the student completes at least one semester at WSU.
Yes. Contact the Internships and Career Services 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.
If the student is working full time (30+ hours per week), we do not recommend taking classes. Students working full time and enrolled in the Professional Practice and Experiential Learning (ProPEL) program are considered full-time students 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.