What Is An Internship Or A Cooperative Education?

What is an Internship?

An internship is a structured learning experience in a work setting that enhances a student’s understanding of their career field of choice. A majority of internships are offered in the summer when the majority of students are available. However, depending on the arrangement they  can take place throughout the year. Internship programs can be developed at private corporations, government offices and nonprofit organizations. Therefore, Internships can be paid or unpaid positions. More detail on compensation to follow. 

What is a 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. Cooperative Education was originally conceptualized as a structured intentional work/learning experience designed to develop college students in technical and engineering disciplines to transition from education directly into their professions.  Programs have broadened in scope, timing and variety of organizations and disciplines.  Many employers now offer summer Co-ops and recruit Sophomores or Juniors to maximize the time for talent development as well as build a pipeline of strong candidates to make offers at the end of the experience just before graduation.

Internship is the most commonly used term to describe these experiential opportunities and will be used more frequently in this description.

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 wpr@email.arizona.edu.

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. Most compensation is at an hourly rate and varies depending on the field of study and year in college.  The National Association of Colleges and Employers publishes a compensation data report for Interns each year through this link http://www.naceweb.org/uploadedFiles/NACEWeb/Research/Intern/Comp_Guide_2012.pdf
  • Again, 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 for UA students and assist with referral to appropriate academic units.