Value of a Co-Op Program vs Internship?

<p>I am considering Northeastern because of their co-op program. But how useful would this be in my career/grad school? Is it necessary to have a school that specializes in co-ops such as Northeastern? Or would I get basically the same benefits finding an internship at say Harvey Mudd for instance and working there part-time?
I guess my question is what differences are there in a co-op versus an internship at a convential college?</p>

<p>You mention Harvey Mudd, so I'm guessing you will study Engineering or a science. Practically all colleges and universities will have an office that helps students line up internships. If the school has an engineering program, it will undoubtedly have a co-op office as well. Some schools, such as Drexel and Kettering, makes co-ops the focal point of the engineering curriculum.</p>

<p>The simplified answer to your question of co-op vs internship is that an internship will be good for your resume, while a co-op (3 or more semesters with the same employer) will get you a job offer.</p>

<p>My son is a freshman at Clemson, in engineering. Even though Clemson doesn't emphasize co-ops in the way some other places do, around 1/3 of the engineering students do a co-op.</p>

<p>Northeastern has the top rated co-op program in the country. There are over 3000 companies in the program worldwide, including Fortune 500s like Microsoft, Sun, EMC, Raytheon, Boeing, and investment banks like Merrill Lynch. Northeastern began its program in 1909 and many of the companies have been participating in the program for decades.</p>

<p>But to answer you question, Co-ops are better than internships for many reasons. Here are a few:</p>

<li><p>Co-ops are treated like real employees by the company. A co-op student will get more substantive work than an intern (i.e. more interesting). The majority of interns, but not all, are treated like glorified gophers (make copies, stuff envelopes, get coffee etc.). In other words you will learn more about your field as a co-op; </p></li>
<li><p>Most co-ops are paid a salary. The typical Northeastern co-op earns anywhere between $15-$25 per hour. This can help defray tuition costs. By contrast, most internships are unpaid (i.e. free labor);</p></li>
<li><p>Students can co-op all year long and for up to six month periods. By contrast, internships are usually limited to the summer. For the most part, nothing really interesting happens over the summer becuase many of the key managers are on vacation (but this depends on the company); </p></li>
<li><p>The majority of co-ops receive a permanent job offer by their junior year (this is the case at Northeastern). This is important given the tight job market; and</p></li>
<li><p>The experience that students gain through their co-ops can make class discussions more interesting becuase the students will be able to share their subtsantive experience with their classmates; and</p></li>

<p>6 . Most grad schools require some work experience prior to matriculation and Co-op experience (i.e. substantive work) is viewed favorably by grad schools. </p>

<p>I hope this helps.</p>

<p>You can look at these programs as a way to explore different fields in engineering. My daughter did an internship last summer after her freshman year with GE. Her goal for this next summer is to find a research spot for the summer, to try that out after the previous summer in a design and production spot.</p>

<p>Some interesting co-ops offered by Northeastern:</p>

<p>White House Co-op
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<p>NASA Co-op
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<p>BBC NEWS Co-op
<a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Baltodad writes The simplified answer to your question of co-op vs internship is that an internship will be good for your resume, while a co-op (3 or more semesters with the same employer) will get you a job offer.</p>

<p>This isn't true in my experience. Interns usually get job offers, too. Look at it from an employer's point of view. If they interview on-campus and then invite the top candidates for a plant visit, they have maybe met with the person for 4-8 hours total. Compare that to an internship, where they have seen the intern for weeks if not months. Who do they know better? Almost everyone I know who had an internship got an offer from their company.</p>

<p>As for the tradeoffs, one savvy person I know from a lower-ranked school played the game perfectly. Internships are in high demand, but far fewer students apply for coop's since they take so much more time and may mean an extra semester in school. So he first did a coop, since they are relatively easy to land. Then, having done a coop, he was a much stronger candidate for internships compared to students that had neither coop or internship experience! So he got 2 internships at top companies.</p>

<p>Do you know of any resources that says if a college has such programs and how good they are?</p>

<p>Mikemac -
I certainly didn't mean to imply that internships didn't sometimes result in job offers. Instead of saying "the simplified answer", I probably should have said "simplistic answer". </p>

<p>But the conventional wisdom (confirmed by academic officials I spoke to while we were touring colleges) is that 3+ semesters/summers of working for a single employer in a co-op is much more of a surefire way of getting a job offer than a 1-summer internship. Understand also that I'm talking about engineering... I have no knowlege of how this would apply to other majors.</p>

<p>There are some great responses here, one more question. We know Co-ops are good for employment after the undergrad, what is their benefits for the master or doctorate degrees? Would it be easier to get into grad schools with a Co-op, or would the time be better spent studying?</p>

<p>Alan5 notes,"Northeastern has the top rated co-op program in the country" I just read the US News Best College Edition and Northeastern was one of 11 colleges mentioned in Co-op. It was not rated number one there. Thus, can you back up your statement as to where Northeastern is rated as the top co-op program in the country? What is the url for the rankings?</p>

<p>JoyJoy writes "what is their benefits for the master or doctorate degrees?</p>

<p>I can't imagine that a coop would make you any worse of a candidate so they couldn't hurt, and some real world experience might look beneficial to the grad adcoms.</p>

<p>The main benefit, though, is to the student. Far too many people embark on a career knowing little of what it is really like working in the field. The college study of nursing or engineering, for example, does not give a good feel for what working in the job is actually like. A big benefit of internships and coops is that it gives a student real-world exposure to the career when there is still time to change if they realize it isn't a good fit. For a masters degree, or even more importantly a doctorate which can take 4-7 years to get, the benefit of such early exposure is even bigger. Imagine spending 4 years undergrad and another 6 years in grad school to get that PhD only to find out once in the workforce you don't really love the job?</p>