Benefits of Internships and Co-op

Internships and co-ops, otherwise known as experiential education are a window into the world of professional work, the chance to take a risk-free career test drive, and an opportunity to explore your career choices. In a recent national survey of employers, they reported that over 65% of their new college hires had some sort of internship or co-op experience. This survey also reported that students with internship and co-op experience have higher starting salaries than those without experience; sometimes as much as 20% more.

At the University of Evansville, Experiential Education opportunities abound. Like any employment activity, it takes planning, professionalism and a significant amount of effort to secure the right experience. Start early, do your research, utilize your faculty and the Center for Career Development. UE offers a preparation course for internship and co-op experiences. Some programs require that their students complete this course before being eligible to complete a credit-bearing experience. Talk to your academic advisor about the preparation course, EXED 090- Building Your Professional Image.

Here are possible benefits to consider when completing your experience:

Whether there is a tight economy and fewer jobs available, or, where specialized training, software skills, or previous experience is a must, students with internship experience stand out in the job hunt. An internship can help you extricate yourself from the "can't get job without experience, can't get experience without a job" double bind.

Take Charge of Your Learning
Internships are important opportunities for you to design your own learning curriculum and get away from the campus-based one which may be frustrating you. Decide what you want to learn, how you intend to learn it, and how you will evaluate it.

Theory into Practice
An internship experience can add more meaning to academic study by giving you the chance to apply theories learned in class to "real life" situations. Find out if the world as described in your sociology course really exists.

Awareness Through Increased Community Involvement
You will develop an awareness of other's needs and a greater understanding of your role and potential contributions to society.

Personal Growth
Yes, you will grow from this experience. It won't transform you into a mature, responsible adult overnight, but having to solve problems in unfamiliar situations can bolster your self-confidence and show you where you need to work.

Helping Hand
It is nice to help yourself but helping others increase their capacities is also a benefit and a goal of an internship. Don't underestimate your potential contributions and the difference they can make.

New Environment
Introduce yourself to a new environment and the challenges and problems of a work setting. You'll also learn the meaning of teamwork.

Research It is an opportunity for experimentation and exploration of new and old academic and career interests.

Excerpts from: The Helping Hand: Student Guide to Getting the Most Out of an Internship National Society for Experiential Education

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