Internships Defined

Although the terms "internship" and "co-op" are often used interchangeably, they are actually very different experiences. For our purposes, internships:

  • Are defined as a one-time, supervised, professional learning experience that integrates project work related to a student's academic interest or career goals.
  • Can be paid or unpaid as long as it is understood that unpaid internships must be registered for academic credit. See Legal Issues for more information.
  • Take place in a professional setting under the supervision and guidance of an experienced mentor.  Some college internship programs combine faculty and employer involvement as well as site visits.
  • Involve consistent feedback and a formal evaluation of learning and performance.
  • Are most effective when you seek out prepared students. At the graduate level MA, MS or MBA students.  At the undergraduate level, mainly juniors and seniors, however some opportunities that focus on observation (shadowing) and basic level responsibilities may be well-suited for students at the sophomore level.  Keep in mind that students early in their undergraduate curriculum may not yet have taken courses in a concentration area related to your internship.
  • For more information regarding internship criteria review the NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) Position Statement on U.S. Internships.

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