As the Director of the Career Services Undergraduate Co-op and Internship Program here at Virginia Tech, it has become increasingly apparent our program is still a big secret to many students.
After reading the article by Shawn Ghuman on April 17 concerning unpaid internships, it is evident students including Ghuman are not aware of our program and its benefits.
Although our co-op program initially originated from the College of Engineering requiring positions to be paid, it has changed over the years to accommodate more students and their need for gaining career related experience.
Over the past couple of years we have integrated unpaid positions into our program to assist those students gaining relevant experience who may not be paid, so they too may benefit from our program.
In Ghuman’s article he states that he is “literally paying Virginia Tech for no substantial reason other than the company requires me to,” and that the internship “requires” college credit.
In many cases employers want you to be connected to the university in some form, which is why they want you to be enrolled at the university for credit.
Our program does not offer credits. Rather, students maintain full time student status and are enrolled in CEP 4084 which shows as a course on their transcript.
Students need to ask the employer if they can enroll in the co-op and internship program.
The cost of enrolling in the Co-op and Internship Program is $50 and is recognized as an academic program of the university.
There are requirements to our program.
You must be an undergraduate student and your experience must be at least 32 or more hours a week related to your career aspirations. Your employer must be willing to assist you in developing goals/objectives for the semester you are working and assist you in obtaining them.
This aspect of our program ensures a positive and worthwhile experience. The goals you set will be the “skills” you will articulate on your resume.
One main benefit of our program is you are assigned an advisor who will stay in contact with you while you are working and assist you if you are not actually gaining the skills which the employer originally agreed.
We are here to ensure you are not making more coffee and copies and instead, gaining relevant skills for your career and not, as Shawn put it, benefiting the company more than you.
Additional information about the Career Services Co-op and Internship Program can be found at www.career.vt.edu/coop-intern.
Carolyn Ballard Rader
director of cooperative education and internship program