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  Step 1: Internship/Co-op Basics
Internships and cooperative education programs (co-op) allow you to apply skills and knowledge learned in the classroom to actual on-the-job experience. Many employers offer these programs for students to learn more about a particular career field, gain real-world work experience, and possibly earn money to help finance their education.

These programs can help you figure out what you want to do as well as what you don't want to do for a career. Most public and private institutions have partnerships with companies to employ their students. These programs are not based on financial need and are available to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.

Select a topic below to learn more:
What is an Internship?
What is a Cooperative Education Program?
Reasons you should seek an internship or co-op program
General Eligibility Requirements
Internship/Co-op Evaluation
Receiving academic credit
Determining your career path
Locating employers

What is an Internship?
An internship is an academic program that offers students practical work experience prior to graduation, usually in their career field or other area. Internships vary in duration; they can last from a month (or less) to two years (or more) and may be part-time or full-time, and paid/unpaid employment. Many internship are not paid, but some are. The organization providing the internship determines whether or not an intern will be compensated and at what rate.

Internships are usually limited to one work period (one summer, semester, or quarter) with a given employer. They may be arranged during the academic year or summer (summer internships are very competitive). Students generally enroll in internships after they complete their junior years.

What is a Cooperative Education Program?
A Cooperative Education Program (Co-Op) is an academic program that offers students practical work experience in their field of study and area of specialization prior to graduation. This program allows students to alternate between periods of full-time enrollment in school and full-time employment. As a participant under this program, it usually takes students five years to complete an undergraduate degree.

A co-op work term generally consists of full-time and paid employment (typically 35-40 hours per week). The work terms will be recorded on a student's transcript as a Pass, Fail or Withdrawal. Some co-op course carries no credit weight (and is therefore not included in the calculation of the grade point average). However, a completed work term(s) count towards the co-op’s certificate or degree. Work terms can also extend over two back-to-back periods, providing up to 10 months (i.e. 2 semesters) of continuous employment.

Reasons you should seek an internship or co-op program
Internships and co-op programs will help you get the experiences you need to gain an edge in the job market, and possibly get the job of your choice. Most students who have completed an internship or co-op program believe that it has added a dimension to their education that could not be acquired in the traditional classroom environment. Many students without internships or co-ops are at a competitive disadvantage, because more and more employers are hiring students with career-related work experience.

Additional reasons to apply are:
• You can test your career choice through real world experiences.
• You can identify your career paths.
• You can possibly earn money for college and personal expenses.
• You may receive college credit toward your graduation requirements.
• You can start to develop a network of professional contacts within your career field.
• You can gain valuable work experience to highlight on your resume and job applications.
• And more!

General Eligibility Requirements
Each internship and co-op program has different eligibility requirements and benefits. More specific information for each program can be obtained from your academic advisor, internship coordinator, or career center.

General factors considered for acceptance into one of these programs normally include:
• Attendance at an accredited college or university on a full-time basis
• Completion of a minimum number of credit hours
• Minimum cumulative grade point average
• Enrollment at a specific school
• Completion of the Internship/Co-op Application
• Be in good university standing
• Interview with an internship/co-op coordinator

Internship/Co-op Evaluation
If you are accepted for internship or co-op, you will be assigned a mentor. Your mentor will provide you with an introduction and orientation to the organization and its activities. During the internship or co-op, your mentor will serve as a guide and supervisor in which there should be regular scheduled meetings to discuss your projects and progress. You may be required to submit monthly reports to your mentor. Through-out the internship or co-op, your mentor will monitor and evaluate your performance and progress on the job

At the middle and the end of the program, the mentor will give you a final evaluation, which often includes a letter of recommendation. If you arranged to earn college credit for your participation in this program, you will receive a pass or fail grade from your mentor.

Receiving academic credit
Whether you receive academic credit will depend on your department and your major. If you expect to receive credit, you will be required to do some extra assignments to document your learning experience. Typical assignments are projects, daily logs, informational interviewing, outside readings, and written reports. Each department has a faculty member who coordinates the department's internship programs.

The amount of credit will vary from department to department, but most grant one to three hours of credit for a full semester of full-time work. If you are granted college credit, you will have to pay for the number of credit hours assigned to the program.

Determining your career path

If you are interested in seeking and applying for an internship or co-op, You should carefully explore each opportunity; the best internship or co-op is the one that matches your interests. Before searching for an internship or co-op position, you should perform a self-assessment.

A self-assessment is the process of identifying and documenting information about yourself in order to make an informed career decision. This process involves analyzing your skills, interests, personality, values, and academic and career goals to help you determine what type of internship or co-op program to pursue. You should also determine the location and working environment desired.

Locating employers

It is important to know that internships and co-ops exist in all employment sector and career fields.

The four major employment sectors are:
Private sector
Private sector employers consist of incorporated firms, industries, law firms, manufacturers, and service-related industries.
Public sector
Public sector employers consist of civil service, military, and other federal, state, county, and city government jobs.
Education/research sector employers consist of privately funded or public schools, colleges, universities, vocational, or research institutions.
Not-for-profit sector
Not-for-profit sector employers consist of hospitals, foundations, service organizations, labor unions, and research, religious, or non-government-funded organizations.

Employment opportunities in the aviation industry are based on timing and networking. Networking with others in this industry, as in any industry, is essential to finding a job and advancing in your career. Remember, internships and co-ops offer you the opportunity to network.

The most common aviation employers are:
• Airlines
• Airports
• Aircraft Manufactures
• Government Agencies and Departments (i.e. FAA, NASA, NTSB, etc..)
• State Aviation Departments or Commissions

Click here for the next page>>
Step 2: Sources of Internships/Co-ops


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