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Perspectives from internships and co-ops with industry

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

CEED - Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Cooperative & Experiential Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.964.1 - 23.964.10



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Paper Authors


David Wanless Michigan Technological University

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Dr. Wanless is an assistant professor at Michigan Technological University. His areas of interest include: hydraulics, product design and development, quality control and leadership.

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Perspectives from internships and co-ops with industryThe purpose of this paper is to share some of the perspectives involved with co-op andinternships. Some of these perspectives are my own, some come directly from the students, andsome come from the organization that sponsors co-op and internships. Having had theexperience of hiring and working with co-op and interns in industry has given me some insight,but being charged with grading reports from co-op and internship students provided the studentperspective for this paper.Traditionally, organizations hire interns and co-op students for four basic reasons. First is theutilitarian belief that by providing students with real world experience helps them become morepragmatic and in the end better engineers. I believe that all stake holders believe this to be trueat some level. Students begin to understand organizational living, learning time managementskills, and learning to collaborate with seasoned professionals. These are all potential stumblingblocks for any recent graduates; they become stepping stones for co-op and interns. The secondbasic reason is recruitment. Companies hire co-ops and interns to see how they mesh with theorganization and they get the opportunity to examine skills and abilities of the individual student.The third reason companies hire interns and co-op students are that they are economicallyviability. Students can be hired for far less cost than a graduate without hidden costs (healthcare,unemployment, severance). The fourth and final reason is enthusiasm. College students reallywant to make a good impression so they work hard, especially if they like the companysponsoring the co-op or internship.From the academic perspective, students return from industry as lightly seasoned veterans. Theytend to act like professionals. They speak and think more intelligently than before. Itsometimes seems like they see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. They are ready tograduate which means they are ready to learn. These students share their experience with otherstudents with a tone that suggests pride and accomplishment. From the student’s perspective,they are utilizing the tools, skills, and concepts they learned throughout their curriculum. In myexperience, the student’s perspective of the co-op or intern experience has been positive.

Wanless, D. (2013, June), Perspectives from internships and co-ops with industry Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22349

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