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Episode 59- Co-ops and Internships. What the heck is the difference?

Mar 15, 2021

I’m sharing what they are, the difference between the two, why your students would consider one and then how they would go about getting one.

Give the episode a listen and then go share what surprised you on Instagram or Facebook.

Don’t forget to check out my pinterest board with all the links I used to inform this episode.





What is the difference between an internship and a co-op?

One difference between a co-op and an internship is their duration. Students who participate in co-op internships typically alternate semesters of academic study with longer periods of paid, full-time work. Co-ops span multiple semesters and give students a more in-depth work experience.  Co-ops allow students to take a deep dive. Co-ops also allow for income while you learnCo-ops may add semesters to your students academic career. Co-ops tend to be full time employment over the course of a semester.

Internships can be short in duration (like externships) and are commonly unpaid. Internships are often short-term work experiences that allow students to explore careers. Internships are great when your student isn’t certain about their career choice yet. May not require extending time to degree. Generally not full time work hours.

Where to find internships/co-ops.


Google search for companies in their niche field then drill down for posted opportunities

While emerging adults may resist this, they should definitely utilize the connections of their family and friends. 

When to start the search process

Typically Jan to March are ideal times to do your search and apply process while the more competitive ones may need your student to consider as early as the November prior.

Why do an internship or co-op?

An internship can help them realize a bad major choice before they are done with the degree. 

It can help boost a resume with a less than stellar GPA.

It can create a network of references that can speak to their skills. Their own network that knows them personally and can speak first hand of their skills, knowledge and abilities.

While a co-op may be a required component of a degree program. If it’s not it is a key factor in securing a job in their field post graduation.

How to apply

Your student should consider emailing their resume and cover letter to their network, your network, to employers they have an interest in even if they have no internship posted, and thru their college career or co-op office. 

Your student needs a resume.

But they’ve never had a job before. So what. Have they volunteered….in the neighborhood, at church, in a school club, sports club?

Need help creating one? Try this website but don’t get bogged down in the minutia. https://enhancv.com/

Ideally they will have an internship in summer after freshman year, summer after sophomore year, and summer after junior year so they will be head and shoulder above their competition after graduation. BONUS, an internship in their anticipated field will help them realize early on what they like or dislike about the field and potentially allow them time to shift majors before they end up with a degree in a field they actually hate.

Be mindful of the file name given the resume. Employers will see it and make judgments about the potential hire. If it’s labeled accounting resume and they are applying for a social media marketing job….delete.

A cover letter for each application is a must. It is tedious but necessary.

Get a professional LinkedIn account

The co-op or internship should have some connection with their career choice. Your student should be strategic in their internship selection.

What other things to consider

Their social media accounts. Your student should do a Google search of their name….and you should too. What comes up? Anything they’d be embarrassed to show their grandma? Then perhaps cleaning that up prior to engaging in a search for an internship is a good idea.

If they’ve never interviewed before, find someone to practice with them. You, a friend, the career office on campus, their advisor….they can find someone to mock interview them. Their first interview for their internship should not be the one for the position.


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