Internships & Cooperative Education
What is an Internship?
An internship is a structured learning experience in a work setting. A majority of internships take place in the summer but many are available throughout the year. Internship programs can be found at private corporations, government offices and nonprofit organizations. Internships can be paid or unpaid positions.
What is Cooperative Education?
Cooperative Education positions are paid positions that require students to work either full-time and return to school the following semester, or part-time while attending classes. Some organizations provide summer Co-ops. Many organizations recruit sophomores or juniors for Co-ops. Students participating in these programs are sometimes offered full-time jobs before or immediately after graduation.
How do Students Benefit from Internships and Cooperative Education?
Internships and Cooperative Education are very important in a student’s career development. Through these assignments, students can:
- Determine if this is an appropriate career path.
- Find out how to prepare for a career in a specific field.
- Develop a network of professional contacts for future opportunities and references.
- Learn about the workplace skills they need to develop and build a strong resume.
- Find out what to expect when they transition into a full-time job.
How Many Hours do Students Work?
- During the academic year, when students are attending classes they usually work 10-20 hours each week.
- During the summer, or if students are committed to a full-time Co-op position, they usually work full-time.
What is Appropriate Compensation?
- Students and employers can benefit tremendously from well formulated, paid internship programs as they complete degree requirements and prepare for their career field.
- Compensation can vary depending on the nature and demand of the career field, academic requirements and the job-related tasks involved.
- In general, for-profit employers should offer paid internships. Consult the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division for information on internship programs under the Fair Labor Standards Act and review the Test for Unpaid Interns.
- Career Services can provide guidance to employers on competitive wages and assist with referral to appropriate academic units.
How do you Set Up an Internship or Cooperative Education Program with the University of Arizona?
For more information, or to recruit students for Internship or Cooperative Education positions, contact Career Services at the University of Arizona at (520) 621-2037 or via email at email@example.com.
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Benefits to Organizations
Discover Motivated Students Early
- Internships and Cooperative Education are a great way to bring in talented students to contribute to the organization through their work, ideas and new energy. They provide additional support and increase your workforce, helping you accomplish the goals and mission of the organization.
- Hiring students for these programs, gives you the opportunity to show them the advantages of working for your organization.
- Your organization will have access to a qualified and talented pool of candidates.
Pre-screen Potential Candidates
- These programs provide an effective, low-risk evaluation and training ground for prospective full-time employees. The organization’s investment is limited and during the internship you can evaluate the intern’s skills, work ethic and assimilation into the culture.
- As the student prepares to graduate, you have an opportunity to hire a full-time, pre-screened employee who fits your needs and is already familiar with the needs of the organization.
- You can increase your organization’s visibility on the University of Arizona campus. Students returning from an experience with your organization will tell their friends and classmates about the positive experiences in your organization, effectively promoting your organization as a great place to work.
Influence the Education of Future Professionals
- You will have the opportunity to positively influence the education of new professionals in your field and transform them into excellent future employees.
- By suggesting elective courses to your student employees, discussing curricula with faculty and providing real problems for classroom projects, you will help produce a more competent graduate and future professional.
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How To Get Started
Assess Your Needs and Resources
- Can you provide a meaningful work/learning opportunity?
- Is this an ongoing opportunity or a special project of limited duration?
- Are you prepared and able to invest time in training the student?
- Is there a staff person to supervise the student?
- Do you have adequate office space and equipment for the student to work effectively?
Plan a Challenging Work Experience
- Develop specific projects or assignments that allow the student to gain work experience related to their academic studies.
- Students may perform some routine office work, but these duties should not be the primary focus of the experience.
Develop a Detailed Position Description
- Outline expectations, assignments and the student’s learning objectives. (See sample Learning Agreement Guidelines).
Orient and Supervise the Student
- Provide the student with a tour of the facilities and information on policies and procedures, formal and informal.
- Provide the student with information about the organization’s mission, goals, structure and decision-making process. Indicate how the internship tasks fit in with the rest of the office.
- Introduce the student to all staff they will be working with.
- Arrange for training, as necessary, with computer programs, telephone systems, copy and facsimile machines or other equipment the student will be using.
- Offer directions on the specifics of work assignments.
- Give broad exposure to the organization, including participation in staff meetings, staff training and informational interviews with key staff members.
Meet with the Student on a Regular Basis
- Meet regularly, especially in the beginning.
- Give the student feedback about his or her performance. Discuss new and past projects.
- If students are treated with respect, trusted with responsibilities, and given proper training and supervision, they will work harder and achieve more.
Create a Safe, Respectful Environment
A student should be treated as a regular employee by his or her co-workers. It is important that other staff members are aware of the expectations and responsibilities assigned to the student.
Keep the UA Connection
Meet with or keep the university advisor/Career Services informed about the student’s progress as necessary.
Complete a Performance Evaluation
Halfway through the assignment, discuss the student’s experience with your organization and give the student information he or she can put into practice during the experience. Be honest. If the student is not meeting expectations, offer suggestions for improvement.
Complete and Return Surveys
Fill out and return all data collection tools requested by Career Services or the University of Arizona. Send copies of evaluations to University advisors/supervisors as appropriate.
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Important Information to Consider
Academic Credit for Internships or Cooperative Education
One of the questions organizations most frequently ask is, "How do I arrange academic credit for an internship or cooperative education?" The simple answer is… you don’t.
Arranging for academic credit is the student’s responsibility, an arrangement that he or she makes with an advisor or faculty member in his or her academic department. If you want to require the acquisition of credit as a necessary condition of the position, or if you are willing to complete the steps needed for the student to receive credit, you should mention that in your position description.
Here are some things you may need to do to fulfill the requirements for academic credit:
- Provide a written, detailed description of the position and the duties.
- Meet with the student’s advisor/professor to discuss the nature of the position.
- Be prepared to meet with the student/professor who may visit the work site to meet with you and/or the student.
- You may be asked to write an evaluation of the student’s work at the conclusion of the experience.
Employment professionals will maintain equal employment opportunity (EEO) compliance and follow affirmative action principles in recruiting activities in a manner that includes:
- Recruiting, interviewing and hiring individuals without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, or disability, and providing reasonable accommodations upon request.
- Reviewing selection criteria for adverse impact based upon the student’s race, color, religion, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.
- Avoiding use of inquiries that are considered unacceptable by EEO standards during the recruiting process.
- Developing sensitivity to, and awareness of, cultural differences and the diversity of the work force.
- Informing campus constituencies of special activities which have been developed to achieve the employer’s affirmative action goals.
- Investigating complaints forwarded by the Career Services office regarding EEO non-compliance and seeking resolution of such complaints.
In setting up an internship or cooperative education experience, do not overlook any potential legal concerns. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay at least minimum wage to employees. For organizations offering an unpaid position or a stipend, it becomes important to meet with your legal counsel to make sure that your arrangements meet the requirements of the law. In addition, you should meet with your legal counsel to discuss any potential liability issues.
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Role of Career Services
Establish Relationships with Organizations
- There are many challenges to networking with an organization the size of the University of Arizona. UA Career Services acts as a central point of contact for employers, students and departments.
- UA Career Services establishes relationships and provides outreach to large corporations, government agencies, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and small businesses, both nationally and locally, on an ongoing basis.
- The office encourages, guides and facilitates organizations interested in providing career-related experiences to UA students.
Through the use of Wildcat JobLink, a web-based free job-listing service, UA Career Services maintains comprehensive listings of internship and cooperative education positions.
Offer Networking Events
UA Career Services sponsors Career Fairs, facilitates campus interviewing and works closely with the academic departments to promote opportunities for students.
UA Career Services conducts ongoing outreach efforts, informing students of the importance of career-related experience to their future careers.
UA Career Services will assist students in choosing an internship or cooperative education experience and in preparing for it. Services include counseling, skill-building workshops, use of computerized career planning, and networking tools.
Class and Student Organization Presentations
UA Career Services conducts major and college specific class presentations about internships and cooperative education upon the request of faculty, campus units or student organizations.
UA Career Services provides faculty and advisor training on how to use our resources with an emphasis on enhancing the student’s classroom experience.
UA Career Services conducts evaluations aimed at gaining feedback from students and organizations regarding programs offered.
Career Information Center
UA Career Services maintains a Career Information Center with outstanding resources for students including:
- Information on organizations
- Books on majors and various career fields
- A state-of-the-art computer lab with access to career and employment information
- UA Career Days coordinated by Career Services is a business, industry, government, non-profit, and healthcare industry career fair that takes place in the Fall and Spring semesters, usually in late September and early April.
- College-Sponsored Career Fairs coordinated by students are held in early spring.
Organizations can schedule campus interviewing visits and conduct in-person interviews with students through this service.
Resumes of students registered with UA Career Services for internships and cooperative education experiences are sent to organizations upon request.
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Posting A Position with Career Services
The following are some points to consider when posting a position:
Function of the Organization
- Include general background information about your organization: objectives, size, and type of customer you serve.
- Provide your organization’s website address.
Many students are unfamiliar with particular job titles in specialized fields; therefore, titles that actually describe the position or its tasks are most helpful.
Briefly describe the tasks, responsibilities and expectations you have of a student. These may include, but are not limited to, routine work duties, staff relationships, travel, and equipment to be used. This is where students look to size up the experience. Your description should emphasize the educational experience that the student will receive in exchange for their work.
The most effective listings of qualifications focus on the skills, experience, or interests that you are seeking in a student. Remember that the University’s student population is very diverse. First-year students may be 18 or 40 years old with a range of unique experiences. Simply requiring that a student be a junior or a senior does not guarantee specific qualifications, such as maturity, work experience or the completion of introductory courses. Be sure to explicitly indicate the minimum qualifications necessary for the position and whether training is provided.
Indicate the number of hours per week you expect a student to work. Indicate how flexible the scheduling may be and whether or not there are fixed times the student must be available.
Length of Experience
Indicate the duration of the position and whether this is a fixed period (i.e. September 1 - December 31); recurring, (i.e., available every three months on a regular schedule); or ongoing, (i.e., something is available for the right person at almost any time).
The University of Arizona operates on a semester system. Your position need not conform to that system, but many of our students will seek opportunities compatible with their academic schedule. Fall semester begins in late August and Spring semester begins in the middle of January. The academic year concludes in mid-May. Plan early and allow time for students to view your listed position.
Compensation options vary. Some organizations offer strictly volunteer positions, others offer a wide range of hourly salaries. College Work Study is available to students working at some non-profit and governmental agencies. Some organizations offer stipends, travel expenses, tuition reimbursement, scholarships, studio privileges, tickets, or meals as compensation.
Indicate the method students should use to contact you if they are interested in applying for your position. If you have an application form that you want students to fill out and mail to you, indicate “application,” and include a copy of the application form for students to review and complete.
Posting a Position on Wildcat JobLink
To post a position on the UA Career Services Wildcat JobLink, please follow these steps:
- Go to our Web site select "Post Job" in the upper right-hand corner.
- Click on "Employer Login" under the "Employers" section.
- Enter your existing NACELink Network or Wildcat JobLink username (your e-mail address) and existing password to login. If you are new to the system, click on “Register For The First Time”.
- Follow the instructions to create an account.
- Once you have completed all information requested, you will get to the “Employer Desktop” and you can choose any of the options listed.
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Learning Agreement Guidelines
Download the Cooperative Education and Internship Guidelines PDF, which contains a printed version of this webpage as well as the Learning Agreement Guidelines.
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