About Internships and Co-Ops


The Value of Internships

Employers rate an internship as one of the most important qualifications that a candidate can have. While an excellent QPA and campus involvement is important, they want to see evidence of how you have applied your knowledge and skills in a real-world setting off campus.
It provides an on-the-job experience that gives you an edge over other applicants. It also provides these benefits:

  • It helps you define your career goals and make them more specific. For instance, a rehabilitative science major interning in a local nursing home decided that her career interests should focus on working with the elderly.
  • It helps you decide if your skills are as polished as they should be. For example, as a public accounting intern, you may discover that you need stronger writing skills. In college, you can take additional writing courses to strengthen your skills.
  • It gives you a chance to learn if your career choice is really compatible with your aptitudes, skills, values, and interests. For instance, an education major decided to change majors after he participated in his first field experience. He was glad to learn then, not on his first job, that he wasn't cut out to be a teacher.
  • An internship provides you with the opportunity to develop good work habits. You become less of a novice and more of a professional. Through observation and practice, you become aware of the reality of the working environment.
  • It helps you develop job search skills. To obtain an internship, you learn skills, such as resume writing, interviewing, and application letter preparation.
  • It gives you insight into finding a job in your field. Throughout your internship, you can make contacts and seek their advice about finding a job in the field.
The fact is, both expect more from our students than just a college degree. We understand that most students must also save money for college and we can help them find paid internships or combine a paid job with an unpaid internship. It can be done!

Aside from these practical considerations, there is a much larger benefit to participating in internships. They can transform a student's life and career in ways we can't even imagine. It is only by doing the work associated with a particular career interest that students can feel confident about their choices. Internships can:

  • Provide an opportunity to learn new things and expand one's horizons in ways that few other experiences can.
  • Can help you learn about work environments, organizational cultures, and supervisory styles as well as challenging their interpersonal and communication skills in ways that on campus experiences cannot.
  • Internships provide a medium to test the theories and principles learned in the classroom.
  • Internships can be critical to helping students narrow down, and finally choose, a specific career direction.
    Of course, internships can help students earn (and save) money.
  • Internships can help students get one step closer to graduation if they elect to take them for academic credit.
  • Our annual alumni survey clearly demonstrates that students who graduate after having completed internships get jobs more quickly, at higher levels, and at higher starting salaries. Over the course of 5-10 years, those benefits could add up to thousands of dollars, bigger job titles, and more rapid advancement.

Clarion University's Definition of "Internship" and "Co-op"


Co-op courses (300-level) are based upon job assignments that are related to the student's university major or career objectives and provide learning experiences as stated in their respective learning objectives. Faculty coordinators from academic departments advise students, review learning objectives, and evaluate term reports.

Cooperative education procedures are sufficiently flexible to provide for student and employer needs. The program is designed to enhance self-realization and direction by integrating classroom study with planned and supervised experiences in educational, professional, business, and cultural learning situations outside the formal classroom environment. The joint efforts of faculty, participating employers, and students are directed toward the achievement of an educational experience where classroom studies and appropriate work experience combine to reinforce each other.

Prerequisite: junior standing, minimum 2.5 QPA, or approval of the appropriate college dean. Offered each semester and on demand.


An internship (400-level) is usually a culminating experience for seniors. Interns should have completed most of the required courses in their major area of study. Internships operate somewhat like student teaching, with the emphasis upon application of knowledge in a realistic setting rather than acquisition of new material. In other words, internships are begun with most entry-level skills at least partially developed, and the intern is expected to render supervised professional services. The length of an internship may be less than a semester or as long as a year. Many internships carry no salary or stipend.

Because internships are tailored to fit the demands of the respective professions as well as the needs of individual students, each college and department is encouraged to establish requirements and criteria for acceptance in the program and for successful completion which go beyond the minimal requirements established by the cooperative education/internship program. Each college is expected to enforce its own requirements through its departments.

Minimally, students must have senior standing and a minimum 2.5 QPA or approval of the department.

Approval Procedures for Internships and Co-ops


Clarion University's internships and co-ops which are for academic credit are handled at the departmental level. Faculty coordinators from academic departments advise and assist students in designing an internship or co-op experience.

Registration in the departmental internship or co-op course is required for the student to receive credits. Each college and department may have specific requirements and criteria for acceptance in the program and for successful completion which go beyond the minimal requirements established by the cooperative education/internship program. Students should check with their respective academic department chairperson or internship coordinator for details.

Before a student begins an internship they are required to complete the following agreement:


Learn internship search strategies for paid and unpaid internships on Career Connections and other internship sites.
Only Non-profit organizations may offer unpaid internships that are not for academic credit.  All other organizations must provide internships that are connected to earning credits or they must be paid.

Last Updated 4/9/18