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Internship vs. Co-op - What would you recommend for me?

pierre0913pierre0913 Registered User Posts: 7,652 Senior Member
edited November 2011 in Engineering Majors
I have a dilemma. Currently, I am a junior at Clemson University majoring in civil engineering. Last Friday I received an internship offer. However, that same week I interviewed for co-ops. I have no idea what concentration of civil engineering I would like to specialize in since I still have not taken the introductory class for every civil engineering concentration offered at my school.

Which would be better for me in the spring?

1. 3 different internships that last just one semester before I graduate (so I can get exposed to different work fields and I wouldn't be stuck with one company if I didn't like the work. Downfall is that I wouldn't get increasing responsibility within one company)
2. A co-op assignment

am currently taking Construction Engineering, Structural Mechanics, Fluid Mechanics. Have not taken Environmental Engineering, Transportation Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering, Introduction to Materials.
Post edited by pierre0913 on

Replies to: Internship vs. Co-op - What would you recommend for me?

  • PurpleDuckManPurpleDuckMan - Posts: 968 Member
    I was under the impression that co-op>internship, but that's just 1:1

    Hopefully a seasoned vet can answer your question
  • BanjoHitterBanjoHitter Registered User Posts: 1,497 Senior Member
    I should preface this by saying that I don't know much about civil engineering internships. But I can give some insight from other engineering fields: 3 semesters of internship experience is the same as 3 semesters of co-op experience. In fact, most companies use the two phrases interchangeably.

    I also disagree with your comment about a co-op resulting in increased responsibility. At most larger companies, co-ops tend to be assigned to new roles every semester. Even in the same role, you'll likely get different projects. Further, don't assume that internships have to be in different companies - if you do a good job in your first summer, most companies will ask you back for the next summer.

    The big advantages to co-op: (1) it's guaranteed (or at least more certain). This means you'll never have to worry about where you're going to live and work next semester. (2) Co-ops hire freshman more frequently (whereas an internship company might hold out for a junior or senior). (3) If you intern in the same field, you're seen as having a large amount of knowledge in that field. For example, if you spend 3 or 4 semesters with a structural firm, structural firms are likely to be very interested in you. Of course the downside is that non-structural firms will be less interested in you.

    The big advantage to internships: (1) You interview every year. This means that by your senior year, when you're looking for a full-time position, you'll be an expert. Co-ops might only interview as Freshman then go years without interview practice. (2) Interns are more mobile. If you decide to change majors or concentrations, you could lose a co-op, but you can change your internship preference at any time. Also, a co-op can get stuck in a company he doesn't like while an intern does not. (3) An intern can experience different fields within a major if he is not sure what interests him. A co-op can only do that with certain companies.
  • ken285ken285 Registered User Posts: 3,931 Senior Member
    When you say 3 different internships that last one semester, do you mean each internship lasts one semester each? Spring, summer, fall? If so, I would just go with the internship that you have now and see how it goes. If you like it, then just continue working for them.
  • TheDude2491TheDude2491 Registered User Posts: 239 Junior Member
    I always thought those two are the same thing...

    I personally would choose the three internships to test which types of civil engineering would suit my taste (even though I'm doing EE)
This discussion has been closed.