The majority of employers offer ongoing jobs to successful interns after their program has ended. Even if a full-time position is not offered, completing an internship increases your chances of employment later on. However, these types of temporary employment aren’t always the best option for everyone.
An alternative to the traditional internship for students is a co-op. While they function similarly, there are some key differences that should be considered.
Here’s everything you need to know about pursuing an internship vs coop position.
What is an Internship?
An internship is a type of position with a company or business that involves them working to gain experience. However, they differ from normal jobs in that they aren’t salaried and are often exclusively for college students. They come in all kinds of forms, such as summer positions to year-long ones.
Many college students pursue some kind of internship over the summer between courses. In some cases, these may count as college credits toward their graduation. There are also some graduate programs that require an internship in order to graduate at all.
Examples of Internship Opportunities
There are various types of internships that depend entirely on the company offering them.
Ideally, a student or graduate would land a paid internship. These are most common in professional fields such as medicine or engineering. They function much like normal positions designated for learners who want to grow in the field.
Next, you’ll have a work research internship. These are most commonly taken on by students who need the experience to graduate.
Unpaid internships don’t provide any kind of paycheck, though they may cover certain things like the cost of food and travel. Alternatively, a company may provide college credits for your time.
There are also fellowships that focus on professional development and provide payment.
What is a Coop?
A co-op, or cooperative education, is a type of educational work offered to college students. These are normally paid, full-time positions that provide an opportunity to learn on the job. The length of time they last is anywhere from a semester to a year.
In most cases, a person participating in a co-op does so for an entire semester in place of classroom education. They’ll spend a semester taking courses and then work the next semester at a co-op of their choosing.
Qualifications to enter a co-op position will depend on the school and the organization. For example, some require a higher class standing. Others don’t require full-time enrollment.
Examples of Co-Op Opportunities
Like with internships, there are plenty of industries that make use of co-op positions. These include engineering, architecture, environmental studies, geography, and hospitality.
It’s a great opportunity for businesses to both educate students and fish for qualified staff members after graduation. A company needs approval from a college to hire students, so it’s also a safe option for the person pursuing these positions.
A couple of examples of high-paying co-op jobs include:
- AWS solution architect
- Data science co-op
- Petroleum engineering co-op
- Cyber security co-op
- Plumbing co-op
Internship vs Coop
After all of that information, you may still wonder which educational opportunity is best for your needs and industry. Both provide a chance to learn on the job, and both have positions that pay at least a minimum wage.
The differences come down to factors such as payment availability, when you can access them, the responsibilities granted, and whether it secures you a job when you’re done.
The first major difference between an internship vs a coop is whether you’ll end up paid or not.
A co-op job is almost always a paid position. It functions much like a learning job where you’re expected to fulfill many of the same duties as other full-time employees. While you may not receive as much as other employees, you should still expect a regular paycheck.
In contrast, internships do not have to be paid. Some companies get away with hiring interns and offering college credits in exchange. Others utilize things like stipends for food and transportation.
While a paid internship is often more difficult to acquire, it shows that you’re working with a more reputable company. It’ll also be easier on your bank account if you acquire one after graduation or land a full-time internship.
As mentioned, internships have the opportunity to provide educational credits that go towards your diploma. This is useful if you want to earn experience on the job without slowing down your path to graduation. It’s also much easier to acquire this type of position as opposed to a paid one.
A co-op position may also help to fulfill elective credit requirements. This is best suited for someone who already has a job.
Generally speaking, interns aren’t given the same kind of responsibilities as hired employees. An intern’s role is to shadow the other people in their department and assist them with things like clerical duties and taking minutes at meetings.
If you’re hired for a co-op position, then you may be given similar jobs to a full-time employee. For example, an oral health coordinator position at a clinic may assist with oral health evaluations, schedule appointments, and participate in team meetings.
Time It Takes to Complete
Both internships and co-ops range in how long they last and how many hours you’re expected to work.
Internships are often part-time positions that last anywhere from a few months to half a year. Some last longer and offer full-time positions.
Co-ops usually last at least a full semester or summer as a replacement for classroom education. As such, they’re also usually full-time, paid positions.
Job Opportunities After Completion
When an internship finishes, there is no guarantee that you’ll continue with the company. Some places use these opportunities to find new hires, but there will often be students that still need to continue their education.
Since co-op positions run for longer with more responsibilities, they’re more likely to hire learners that complete them. It’s the better option for career advancement.
Plan Your Career Growth Wisely
Ultimately, the debate of internship vs coop depends on your current status and desires. Internships are best suited for students that want to try out different positions and have more flexibility. Co-ops are better for professionals who wish to advance their experience in a specific field.
If you’re a company that wants to hire new workers for your sales team, then consider The Selling Factory. We can connect you with college students that will do the research and generate leads for the rest of your team. Contact us to learn more and ask any questions.