Undergraduate engineering students can gain significant technical experience in industry before graduation through both internships and the Cooperative Engineering Education Program, or co-op, an experiential learning program. Co-op and intern positions allow employers to evaluate potential permanent hires over an extended period of time, provide a continual pipeline of bright engineers and a cost-effective method for completing tasks within the organization.

An internship is an opportunity for a student of any major or year to gain valuable, paid work experience. Interns work full-time during the summer, and commit to work with an employer for one summer only. Students may attempt to work with a different employer each summer to expand their horizons even more.

Co-op students complete at least two semesters of full-time work with the same employer, receive one hour of letter-grade credit per semester and earn a competitive salary. Co-op employers expectations:

  • Provide the student with at least two co-op work terms
  • Educate students by having them perform technical engineering work relevant to their academic discipline
  • Provide direct supervision by an engineer
  • Review the student’s work and complete a performance evaluation for each semester of work
  • Maintain communication with the Cockrell School's co-op office regarding recruitment and student performance

Ways employers can enhance the co-op experience:

  • Assign challenging tasks with increased responsibility. Spending multiple semesters with one employer gives co-op students the opportunity to work on complex projects and gain more responsibility as their work terms progress.
  • Provide a mentor. Whether a direct supervisor or an experienced employee, a mentor can help the student navigate the organizational culture, learn about industry and explore career options.
  • Encourage open dialogue on performance. Receiving positive feedback and constructive criticism from supervisors and mentors is crucial to the co-op student’s development as an engineer.
  • Coordinate networking opportunities. By including students in employer events or arranging activities especially for co-ops, the employer can give students a better understanding of the working culture and help them feel more connected with the organization.
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