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Internship Basics


What is an Internship?

Internships are carefully designed and monitored educational experiences that provide students the opportunity to integrate academic knowledge with practical work experience while earning college credit. They help students test interests, develop new skills, and learn firsthand about the workplace in their field of study while employers benefit from their skills and assistance.

An important element that distinguishes internships from short-term jobs is the intentional “learning agenda” structured into each experience. Students have specific learning objectives and supervisors serve as mentors, providing opportunities to meet the objectives as part of or in addition to the specific duties of the internship.

What an Internship is Not

  • Free administrative labor
  • Free or inexpensive solution to a full-time position vacancy
  • A go-to for data entry or menial work unrelated to a collegiate program.

Internships

  • A one-semester work experience that coincides with the academic calendar
    • Fall semester: August – December
    • Spring semester: January - May
    • Summer semester: June - August
  • Paid or unpaid
  • Students work approximately 135 hours to earn 3 semester hours
  • Students work for a minimum of 10 weeks in Fall or Spring and 6 weeks in Summer
  • Students have a site supervisor who monitors and evaluates work performance
  • Internships include an academic component supervised by a CU Denver faculty member who monitors, evaluates, and grades the academic learning
  • Learning objectives, job duties, and academic assignments are documented in an internship learning agreement. Interns will work toward achieving specific learning objectives
  • A performance evaluation is required at the end of the internship
  • Interns are never required to pay the employer in any form to take part in the experience (i.e. training or licensing fee)

Co-ops

  • A one-semester or multi-semester work experience
  • Always paid
  • Two types of work schedules:
    • Parallel - Student works part-time while enrolled in college classes
    • Alternating - Student alternates full-time work and a full-time class schedule typically on a 6 month rotation
  • Students do not earn academic credit
  • Learning objectives and job duties are documented in a Co-op Learning Agreement
  • A performance evaluation is required at the end of each semester
  • Co-ops are never required to pay the employer in any form to take part in the experience (i.e. training or licensing fee)
  • Many co-ops transition into full-time career employment after graduation

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