What Is A Co-Op Internship?

When hiring, most employers expect applicants to have been involved in some kind of work experience, be it alongside their studies or during any time off.

This assures employers that these applicants have experienced the day-to-day tasks that are involved in establishments. Co-op internships are very popular and make students really stand out from the rest, but what is exactly do they involve? 

What Is A Co-Op Internship? 

A co-op internship, also known as cooperative education, is an internship that is carried out for a longer period of time, alongside attending college.

They are a good option if there is a company you are very interested in working for and would like to be a part of their team for an extended period of time. 

Co-op internships are offered to students in some colleges as part of their college courses. They are beneficial, as they can lead to full-time employment within the company once you graduate. 

There are two types of schedules that are usually offered. One of these is an alternating schedule, where a student will work full-time for one semester, and attend classes the following.

The other is a parallel schedule, where you work full-time and attend classes part-time throughout the same semester. On a parallel schedule, students are likely to work from 15 to 25 hours a week, with responsibilities in their role increasing as a result. 

They can work hand in hand, with more responsibility being given to you as your time in education increases, putting what you learn at college into physical practice. 

The Difference Between A Co-Op Internship, And A Regular Internship? 

While these two forms of internships can often be confused with one another, it is important to recognize the differences, in order to choose the path that is going to benefit you the most. 

The main difference between these two is the time invested in them. Regular internships are often brief, and usually run for one semester, or during the summer. They will typically begin by students observing full-time employers, before being given tasks to complete individually.

A co-op internship, on the other hand, runs for a longer period of time and can last the entire time you are in school.

The individual tasks expected from regular internships are likely to be similar, but co-op interns are more likely to have their responsibilities increase as they are a part of the company for a longer period of time.  

Co-ops are normally paid internships, whereas regular internships can be paid, but many are unpaid. 

Would A Co-Op Internship Or A Regular Internship Suit You Best? 

There are many factors that will determine what kind of internship is right for you. Co-ops are suitable for students who are very eager to work for a company for a long period of time.

It is also good if said student would like a job in that company after graduation, as being a valued part of the team for this extended period of time could lead to a full-time position after you graduate. 

Co-ops can also provide some financial stability, as interns involved in these programs are usually given payment. This can sometimes provide some financial relief to families who may need it, as the payment received when working as a co-op intern can go towards college fees. 

Some institutions will also not charge student tuition fees when they are engaged in full-time employment in a co-op scheme. This may also be appealing to those who want some financial relief. 

However, co-ops are not always available in every field. They are common amongst careers such as engineering and technology but less so in other areas, so sometimes an internship is the only option. 

Internships are still highly regarded when it comes to applying for positions in the future. When comparing them with co-ops, one benefit of internships is that you can explore work culture, while also keeping in with the rhythm of campus life and community.

This would be a little harder if you were to leave for a year to work, causing you to miss out on student life. They also offer more flexibility for students, with slightly more flexible working hours than a co-op internship would be. 

A co-op internship can often extend your time at school. For example, a regular degree would be four years long.

But if you are completing a co-op internship at the same time, then you would finish your degree after five years. This is something to take into consideration when choosing which path to follow. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Co-Op Internships Worth It? 

Enrolling in co-op education is a great way for a student to earn a degree, whilst engaging in industry experience at the same time. These programs provide students with excellent experiences, and will also help them make connections within their chosen field. 

Is It Difficult To Get Onto A Co-Op Program? 

Co-op programs are quite highly sought after, so they are not particularly easy to get onto. However, if you take the right steps, you could be successful. You should do your research and find the job you are interested in.

 Once you’ve found the one for you, you need to impress the employer with your cover letter and resume. If you are struggling with this step.

There are many tips and templates that you can access online, or your college campus should have a careers’ adviser that can help you with these documents. 

You are then to follow the instructions as to how to complete the rest of the application. This could be in the form of a form you fill out, a project, or even an interview. 

Final Thoughts 

This article has discussed what a co-op internship is and has compared it with regular internships, as many people aren’t aware of the differences. 

Engaging in either of them is extremely beneficial, especially when it comes to applying for full-time work once you graduate.

Different institutions will offer different kinds of internships and whether you are more suited to a co-op internship or a regular internship will depend on your area of study, and your personal preferences. 


Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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