How important is co-op/internship experience?

Posted: November 24, 2010

If you are considering pursuing a co-op or internship opportunity, but aren't sure if it is worth your time, think about the following:

Experience is the first thing that employers consider when reviewing a resume. You may have heard the story that it's easier to get a job once you have had a job. In engineering, this is absolutely true. Last year, 68% of the BS graduates in engineering graduated with at least one quarter of co-op or internship experience. Of the engineering students who reported firm plans for after graduation, 84% had at least one quarter of co-op or internship experience. Students who decide to forego co-op or internship experience in order to graduate quickly often find that their resume is not competitive when it comes to the full-time job search.

Employers often look for full-time candidates within their co-op and internship populations. Recruiting can be time-consuming, expensive, and difficult for employers. When an employer makes a job offer, they want to be sure that the investment is worthwhile. Co-ops and interns have spent time with the company, which means they already know about the culture and have been trained at a basic level. Employers recognize that outstanding co-ops and interns make a wise investment as full-time hires because they are already a part of the team. If you have an idea of where you might want to work after college, consider pursuing a co-op or internship there first!

Planning your coursework and schedule in order to fit in a great co-op opportunity may be worth it as a long-term investment in your future. Students often tell us that until they co-oped, they had trouble visualizing how their academic work would be put to use in the "real world." Students discover courses which they should take before graduation in order to enhance their skills as a professional. Choosing to co-op early allows for time to think about these possibilities while still having time to make changes to course schedules. Additionally, co-op provides more time with an employer, which means more time to make a great impression and possibly secure a job for after graduation. It may take up to an extra year to graduate if you decide to co-op, but the experience may be well worth the time. Students without experience usually spend 6-9 months searching for jobs after graduation, while students with experience are more likely to secure a job prior to graduation.

Students graduating with some experience tend to receive more interview opportunities than students without experience. This means that students with experience may have more than one job offer to consider upon graduation. Students with multiple job offers have the power to negotiate for higher starting salaries and other competitive advantages.

The Engineering Co-op and Internship Program at Ohio State will work with you to help you obtain the kind of experience that you need to become a well-trained engineer. Are you ready to get started on your co-op or internship job search? Check out the Co-op & Intern students (ECIP) portion of the Engineering Career Services website.

"I learned more about economics from one South Dakota dust storm than I did in all my years in college."
-Hubert Humphrey

Authored by Rachel Ligman.