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Career Services

Internship FAQs

What is an internship?

Cooperative Education (Co-op) is an educational plan designed to integrate classroom study with planned, supervised, and evaluated work experience that links the academic program with students' career goals and interests. It offers undergraduate and graduate students a unique opportunity to combine career, social, and personal growth with the educational process. 

The Cooperative Education / Internship work experience may be full-time or part-time, on- or off-campus, and be paid or unpaid. Central's program uses the terms "cooperative education" and "internship" almost interchangeably.  These refer to pre-approved work-experiences that pair hands-on work in the field with a specific course and pre-approved academic assignments/objectives to count for academic credits. 

To qualify as a cooperative education/internship experience, a position must offer the 6 essential elements below:

  1. Hands-on work with increasing levels of responsibility for the student.
  2. The work experience should challenge the student sufficiently to be worthy of university-level credit.
  3. There is a coordination and supervision of the student efforts by a faculty advisor.
  4. There is a means of evaluating the student.
  5. The work relates to the student's academic major and/or career goal.
  6.  Must be a future or current work experience (cannot retroactively count positions or hours completed prior for credits).


Who needs an internship; do I need an internship?

Internships are consistently listed among the top factors that employers look at when hiring recent graduates and can be an extremely effective way for students of any major to jumpstart their career or professional development. While only some CWU programs require internships, all students who are able to are encouraged to do one or more internships during their program.  
Speak with your department or academic advisor to get additional information about your department's specific internship requirements, restrictions, or current opportunities.


How do I get an internship?

Students generally find internships much like they would any other type of job or employment opportunity and can use Career Services, the Wildcat Career Network, or various public job boards to explore opportunities. Once a suitable internship opportunity is located, a student could then complete the internship application to have the requested experience reviewed and approved by their department and the career services internship office. If approved, the student would be registered in 290, 490 or 590 course depending on their class level and the nature of the internship. Once registered, the student would be expected to complete the internship hours and academic requirements as outlined in the application/agreement process in order to receive a "satisfactory" grade in the course. 

A Co-op 290 course is intended for students who have not declared a major, are interested in career exploration, or otherwise do not qualify for the 490 level. Co-op 290 is offered for 1 to 5 credits with a maximum of 10 credits. Students need to have completed a minimum of 45 credits before the internship begins; 15 have to be through CWU prior to the internship. 

A Co-op 490 course allows 1 to 12 credits per experience with a maximum of 20 credits to apply toward graduation. The 490 level is specific to the major and students must qualify according to university and department requirements. Students need to have completed a minimum of 90 credits (including any transferred credits) before the internship begins; 15 of those completed credits have to be through CWU prior to the internship. 

A Co-op 590 course is intended for graduate-level students and 1 to 8 credits are allowed with a maximum of 8 applied toward a graduate degree. Students at this level are usually on an "as arranged" basis with their advisor and their program outline.


Where do I look for an internship?

  • Many companies, government and social service agencies have well-established co-op and internship programs. Check company websites for any organization you might be interested in to see if they offer any sort of structured internship program options.
  • The Career Services staff continually contacts firms and agencies to develop positions appropriate for Central's majors and programs.
  • Academic departments often contact firms and agencies which results in co-op positions for their students. Check with your department to see if they have any contacts or internship leads. 
  • CWU students, friends, parents, and alumni provide referrals for co-op employment.
  • Resources are available in the Career Services office (Bouillon 206) that can provide information on past CWU internships and their providers listed by major. 
  • The Internet has a myriad of sites that have internship and cooperative education positions listed.
  • Attend job and internship fairs.
  • Additional tips for finding an internships


How will my financial aid be affected?

Students receiving financial aid must check with the Financial Aid Office prior to accepting a paid placement. A paid placement could impact future financial aid award amounts or eligibility.
If the student is receiving financial aid, Federal Law requires that any income be declared. If the student is employed and completes a W-4 form, this reporting will occur through regular employment withholding and a W-2 form at tax time. If the student does not complete a W-4 form for the employer, they must declare their income with the Financial Aid Office through a specific form that is available from the Financial Aid Office.
Students receiving financial aid must be sure their academic responsibilities for their co-op experience are completed as agreed on the learning agreement. Any student with an incomplete or in-progress grade at the time of financial aid awards for the next quarter jeopardizes their position to receive their financial aid. Upon completion of any outstanding hours or assignments, students with an IP grade should follow-up with their Internship Faculty Advisor to request that their grade is updated.
If an internship extends past the end of the quarter, the student should be assigned an In-Progress (IP) grade until the internship hours are completed. Student with an IP grade will need to ensure to complete the outstanding requirements before financial awards for the next quarter or risk jeopardizing your financial aid. 


How is an internship graded?

Internships are graded as Satisfactory (S) or Unsatisfactory (U). The final grade will be assigned by the internship faculty advisor and is based on the number of hours completed, course assignments and activities, and the intern evaluations provided by the site supervisor. Internships that span beyond the length of the quarter should be assigned an In-Progress (IP) grade until the remaining hours and assignments are complete. 


Do I need health insurance during my internship?

Health insurance is the responsibility of the student, and if not provided by the employing agency, should be purchased individually. In most instances, the group coverage for students available through CWU will provide adequate coverage; however, the student is advised to consider the level of coverage and the exclusions of the policy which may apply to unique co-op agencies, and to seek supplemental independent coverage, if necessary.


Do I need to buy liability insurance? Where do I get It? What is the difference between Medical and Non-Medical Liability Insurance?

Yes, all students completing internships at CWU are required to purchase one of the two liability insurance options below. The type of liability insurance required depends on if the internship will be occurring in a medical setting or a non-medical setting. Students may use the links below to purchase the insurance that best fits their specific internship needs.
Medical Liability InsuranceFor internships that take place in medical settings such as clinics, hospitals, medical labs, or similar roles/facilities. 
Non-Medical Liability Insurance: This is for all other internships that are not taking place in a medical setting.

Where do I find the Internship Application (Learning Agreement)

All internship applications will be completed via the online application found in the Wildcat Career Network. Login to your account then use the left tab to select the "Internship & Cooperative Education" tab. Once the tab has been selected, a page will appear listing your past, current, and draft internship applications. You can edit/review any existing application displayed or click the black "New" button to begin a new application. 
Students are also encouraged to view the full step-by-step guide to this process for additional information.


Where are the Internship Evaluation forms?

Internship evaluations will be sent to both the student and the supervisor via a system email from "".  The student will get an evaluation near the end of their internship. The site supervisor will receive email evaluations around the middle and end of the internship.
If you or your supervisor have not received your internship evaluation emails, please contact us at so that we may follow-up as needed. 

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