Providing internship and co-operative education experiences allows you to involve students in meaningful, productive work while energizing your organization with fresh ideas. Internships and co-ops allow students to gain career-related experience while in school and can be a powerful recruiting tool, allowing you to see a student's on-the-job performance before extending a full-time employment offer.
An internship is a supervised work experience directly related to an academic discipline. The internship may be full or part time and may or may not be a paid work experience. An internship typically lasts for one semester. Internships are available in most GVSU majors.
A co-op is a work training program for specified GVSU majors including Engineering and Hospitality & Tourism Management. Co-ops are a specific type of work training experience in which students have at least two full- or part-time supervised paid work experiences related to their major, each lasting at least one semester. The co-op programs are specifically designated as such by the academic department.
Offering an internship or co-op at your organization doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. Posting your opportunities through our online recruiting system, LakerJobs, makes your listing immediately accessible to all GVSU students – and it’s fast, easy and free!
If you are interested in building an internship program at your organization, the following information can help you with general considerations. Or, download our Employer Internship Guide for more details.
More than a part-time job or volunteer experience, internships and co-ops must include intentional learning objectives related to increasing student knowledge, training to develop additional skills, and quality supervision to guide and mentor the student. In order to qualify as this type of experience, the following criteria must be met (note some academic departments may have additional criteria):
Academic Requirements and Credit
Intern/Co-op students should be contributing valuable and productive work to your organization and should be fairly compensated. Evaluate the intern’s level of responsibility, experience, and skill sets when deciding on an appropriate wage. You may choose to pay the intern hourly or in a lump sum (stipend) at the end of their experience.
If you cannot “pay” your intern, consider additional ways in which you may provide compensation or benefits:
The U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) severely restricts an employer’s ability to use unpaid interns or trainees; however, employers do not have to pay interns who qualify as leaders/trainees. The U.S. Department of Labor has outlined 6 criteria for determining trainee status: