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Internship & Co-op Guide - Facts About Internships & Cooperative Education

What is an Internship? What is Cooperative Education?

  • An internship is a pre-professional work experience related to the student’s academic major or career interests.
  • It can be a paid or unpaid experience, part or full-time, for credit or not for credit.
  • Cooperative Education is an educational program which integrates academic study at the undergraduate level with paid, career-related professional experience.
  • Co-op is unique because it is a structured university program, has specific work periods, and is a paid, credit-bearing work experience whereas internships can be voluntary and do not necessarily earn academic credits.
  • Co-op is used most widely within the College of Engineering.

How do Students Get Credit for an Internship or Co-op?

Students need to meet with their departmental faculty coordinator or departmental internship contact prior to the start of the experience to work out credit arrangements. A learning contract and method of evaluation must be developed by the student and agreed upon by the faculty coordinator or faculty contact and the employer. The student must register for the appropriate work/learning course through the Office of Student Records.

Who is Most Appropriate for an Internship or a Co-op?

Internships and co-ops are most likely to be acquired by third year students who have declared a major and have enough background coursework to be able to offer substantial knowledge and skills to employers. First and second year students can also seek to enter a work environment related to their career goals, although these internships most often do not earn academic credit and are frequently non-paid experiences. Generally, eligibility for credit requires the successful completion of 60 credit hours of academic study and approval of a faculty coordinator or the departmental internship contact.

How Does a Student Find an Internship or Co-op?

The Career Center has information about companies and organizations. Current internship directories are available in the Career Library and online. A database of current internships and co-ops may by accessed via CareerLink from the Career Center. There are also company recruiters who interview students on-campus for summer internships and co-ops. Resume submission and sign ups for on-campus interviews is coordinated through CareerLink. Departments also receive direct mailings from employers, and these positions are often posted on departmental bulletin boards. In addition, the Maine Mentor Program is a network of UMaine alumni who volunteer their time to assist students with their career concerns and some may help with internships. Career information about each volunteer is on file at the Career Center and is accessible from the Career Center.

How Does a Student Apply for an Internship or Co-op?

To apply for almost all internships and co-op positions, students need to put together a cover letter, a resume and a list of references to be forwarded to prospective employers. The cover letter may be either a letter of inquiry (writing to inquire if any internships or co-ops are available) or a letter of application (writing to apply for a specific internship or co-op opening). Students in some departments (ex.: Chemical Engineering) may apply directly through their departmental faculty co-op coordinator for co-op positions developed specifically for UMaine students within that department.

How Does the Career Center Help?

The Career Center maintains current employer contacts and an up-to-date list of departmental faculty coordinators and departmental internship contacts. Upon registration with CareerLink, all students that are active in our database, can upload their resume into the system, as well as publish their resume in the appropriate resume book which employers can view. An appointment may be scheduled with a professional staff member to discuss strategies for obtaining an internship. Appointments may also be made for resume critiques and practice “mock” interviews using videotape equipment. For students who need help with understanding their skills and interests and clarifying their career goals, an appointment for career counseling is highly recommended as a first step in seeking an internship or co-op position.

Further Questions?

Visit the Career Center, Memorial Union, Third Floor, or call the Career Center at 207-581-1359. You may also send an e-mail to the Career Center. If you wish to schedule on-campus interviews for a co-op or internship position, you may call or e-mail Cathy Marquez, Assistant Director of Employer Relations at 207-581-1353.  We look forward to serving you!


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