Internships & Co-operative Education

An internship is a supervised on-site learning experience. The primary purpose of the internship is to provide an opportunity for a student to apply coursework knowledge in a real work setting.

Internships offer the opportunity to confirm your career and academic choice, work in a paid (or sometimes non-paid) full or part-time career related position, network with professionals in your field, and increase your marketability upon graduation. Depending on the requirements of your academic department, academic credit may be offered.

Cooperative education is a structured educational strategy integrating classroom studies with learning through productive work experiences in a field related to a student's academic or career goals. It provides progressive experiences in integrating theory and practice. Co-op is a partnership among students, educational institutions, and employers, with specified responsibilities for each party.

Internships and Co-ops PDF


  • Gain experience
  • Identify and clarify career goals
  • Explore, develop, or clarify your career path
  • Build your network of professional contacts
  • Discover future employment opportunities within the company
  • Apply concepts and theories learned in the classroom
  • Improve your employment marketability to future employers
  • Build and strengthen resumes and cover letters
  • Develop professionalism and skills
  • Obtain financial assistance


  • Visit Counseling and Career Services
  • Register for a DSCareer Connect account
  • Attend recruitment and career fairs
  • Contact employers directly
  • Research professional journals/associations/ directories
  • Utilize your network (faculty, friends, and relatives)
  • Look through classified ads/job postings


Q: What's the difference between internships and co-ops?
A: Both programs provide work experience related to your academic program. Internships can vary in length and may or may not be required as a part of your degree program. Most internships are completed in the summer. Co-ops are usually multi-term, meaning you will complete more than one semester of a co-op experience. Your semester schedule may vary depending on when you need to be in school and when the employer needs you to work.

Q: Are internships and co-ops full-time or part-time?
A: Internships may be either depending on the employers' needs, the way they choose to structure an intern program, and/or based on the number of hours a degree program may require. Co-ops are almost always full-time positions.

Q: Are internships and co-ops paid or unpaid?
A: Internships can be paid or unpaid; it's up to the employer to decide if it is a paid internship and what the pay scale will be. Co-op positions are always paid.

Q: What are the pay rates for co-ops and paid internships?
A: The salary scale varies among employers and geographic locations.  Each employer sets their own pay rates Counseling and Career Services does not determine pay scales, but recommends that employers offer competitive pay. Students who work multiple terms may receive raises after completing their first work term. Additionally, some employers provide housing and other benefits for interns and co-ops.

Q: Can I get academic credit for an internship or co-op?
A: You do not typically receive academic credit hours for internships unless the internship is required for the completion of your degree program. If it is required, academic credit is usually earned by registering for a specific course, such as a field study, practicum, or something similar. You may still be required to submit academic work, such as reports, papers, or presentations. Additionally, your employer may be asked to complete an evaluation of your work performance.
Co-ops do not receive academic credit but do require you to register for specific co-op courses. This ensures you receive a special seal on your diploma indicating you have completed a pre-set number of semester hours of a co-op program.

Q: Are internships always in the summer?
A: No. You will find a large majority of internships offered in summer, but some employers offer internships all year, including fall or spring semesters.

Q: Can I co-op just in summer?
  A: Co-ops are typically structured in one of two ways, as a parallel co-op or an alternating co-op. A parallel co-op is where the student is employed and taking courses during the same semester. An alternating co-op allows the student to work full-time one semester, then take courses the next semester. The structure of the co-op is most often dictated by the needs of the employer. Some employers do not offer summer-only co-op programs.  Be aware of the requirements of each employer as you conduct your search.

Q: If I get a co-op offer, when and how long do I work?
A: Those semesters typically do not run consecutively. Be aware of the requirements of each employer as you conduct your search.

Q: Can I pick the geographic location where I want to work?
A: You can search for an internship/co-op in a particular location, but we advise students to consider all opportunities. You should be aware of the job market for your degree and skills — some career fields are in demand and you may be more selective. Other career fields are in less demand, meaning you may have to cast a wider geographical net in your search for work experience.

Q: Do employers provide housing?
A: Very few employers provide housing, but some employers provide assistance finding housing. Some provide some financial assistance or allowance for moving and/or housing. If you get a job offer, it's always appropriate to ask an employer what help they provide in relocating an employee.

Q: Am I guaranteed a co-op or internship position?
A: No. Applying for a co-op or internship position is competitive. Employers evaluate your resume and compare you to other students applying for the same positions. There are ways to give yourself and advantage over other student candidates. Talk with a Career Counselor on how to prep a resume, sharpen your interviewing skills, and improve your chances at getting a position.

Q: Is there a minimum GPA requirement?
A: The co-op program at Dalton State College has a 2.75 minimum GPA requirement to participate (see the College catalog for more details). In addition, employers may also have a minimum GPA requirement that differs from the College requirement. Internship positions may have a minimum GPA requirement, and that is usually determined by the employer.

Q: When should I start looking for internships and co-ops?
A: You should begin looking for co-op and internship positions at least one semester before you hope to begin work. Be aware that the length of time between when the employer begins considering you and the time you can begin work may vary. Factors that influence the length of time include relocation and whether the employer requires a security clearance.

Q: Who and where are the co-op and internship employers?
A: Employers seeking students for internships and co-op positions are asked to submit those positions to DSCareer Connect. Counseling and Career Services also maintains a list of local companies who have recruited Dalton State College students in the past for internships and co-ops. Keep in mind that you are not limited to working for the employers who post the positions on DSCareer Connect. Many other employers also hire co-ops and interns.

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