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What is the difference between a job, a co-op, and an internship?

This question was asked during our Internships 101 webinar

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Angelina (Yun Chu)’s Answer

A job, a co-op, and an internship are all forms of work experiences. The difference between them are in terms of the duration, purpose, and structure.

A job: is a regular employment opportunity, where an individual is hired by a company or organization to perform specific tasks or roles. Jobs can be full-time or part-time, and they often provide a steady income. Employees are typically hired for an indefinite period and may have long-term career prospects within the organization.

A Co-op: is a structured program that combines combines academic studies with practical work experience. It is usually offered by educational institutions in partnership with employers. These programs alternate periods of classroom learning with periods of paid work experience related to the student's field of study. The duration for Co-ops typically range from a few months to a year. The primary goal of a co-op is to provide students with hands-on experience and the opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge in a professional setting.

An internship: is a short-term work experience, often undertaken by students or recent graduates, to gain practical skills and industry exposure. Internships can be paid or unpaid and can last from a few weeks to several months. They are usually project-based and provide an opportunity for individuals to learn about a specific industry, develop professional networks, and enhance their resumes. Internships are often seen as a stepping stone to gain relevant experience and explore potential career paths. Some internships will lead to full-time job offers depending on your performance.
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Katie’s Answer

The other answers here give you good definitions.

I co-oped while completing my BS in Chemical Engineering at Georgia Tech. Companies worked through the Co-op Office to post jobs.

I worked for the same company at the same location in the same department every other term for 3 years. I was also able to do some part time work for them in my senior year. In some programs, students work for the same company in different locations or in different departments.

I finished my degree in 5 years instead of 4, so the co-op route does take longer. I earned money that helped pay for school. It was also great experience for my resume and helped me get my first after graduation job.
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Kate’s Answer

Good question! A job is when you work for a company or organization on a regular basis, either full-time or part-time. It's what most people do to earn money and gain work experience. A co-op is a special program offered by schools where you get to combine your studies with real work experience. You typically alternate between class and work, depending on the program. An internship is a shorter work experience, usually for junior college students who are entering their senior year (but can also be done by other students or recent graduates.) It's a chance to work in a specific industry with the chance of getting a return offer to come back full-time. All of these options are great, it just depends what your career path is!

Explore on Access Your Potential’s site potential career opportunities like internships and paid consulting externships for nonprofits. To learn more: http://accessyourpotential.pwc.com/.
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Elise’s Answer

A job is a more temporary position that is paid. While both internships and co-ops are not temporary and are utilized to kind of "practice" what it would be like to have a full-time job. The primary difference between internships and co-ops is that internships are typically shorter. Internships are not always paid but both co-ops and internships have the potential to be paying positions. Co-ops are often found through your university and responsibilities can increase as your education progresses. The goal of both internships and Co-ops is that potentially they will lead to a full-time position.

Career Exploration

Explore on Access Your Potential’s site potential career opportunities like internships and paid consulting externships for nonprofits. To learn more: http://accessyourpotential.pwc.com/.
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