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 work experience may be full- or part-time, on- or off-campus, and paid or unpaid. Central's program uses the terms "cooperative education" and "internship" almost interchangeably. We consider a paid or compensated position as co-op and any uncompensated experience as an internship. The supervisory relationship with the employer is essentially the same. We strongly prefer paid positions for all our students. However, many social service and nonprofit agencies are unable to provide compensation. Other employers and experiences in certain fields require license or certification before wages can be paid.
To qualify as a cooperative education/internship experience the following five essential elements must be present:
- Hands-on work with increasing levels of responsibility for the student.
- The work experience should challenge the student sufficiently to be worthy of university level credit.
- There is coordination and supervision of the student by the faculty.
- There is a means of evaluating the student.
- The work relates to the student's academic major and/or career goal.
Who needs an internship; do I need an internship?
Certain majors have/require/encourage internship credit; these are listed in the university catalog, so check your major
How do I get an internship?
Co-op 290 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.
Co-op 490 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 before the internship begins; 15 have to be through CWU prior to the internship.
Co-op 590 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 co-op and internship positions established and usually inform the University regularly of such positions.
- 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 result in co-op positions for their students.
- CWU students, friends, parents, and alumni provide referrals for co-op employment.
- Publications are available in the Career Services office (Bouillon 206) that list and present information for every major both locally and nationwide.
- The Internet has a myriad of sites that have internship and cooperative education positions listed.
- Attend job and internship fairs.
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 the financial aid entitlement the following year. Students receiving financial aid must be sure their academic responsibilities for their co-op experience are completed by the end of the registered quarter. Any student with an incomplete grade at the time of financial awards for the next quarter jeopardizes their position to receive their financial aid.
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.
How is an internship graded?
Internships are graded as S/U automatically.
Do I need health insurance during my internship?
Health, accident, and disability insurance are 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.
Where do I get liability insurance for medic-related internships?
Malpractice insurance for student interns is available through Central Washington University. Please click on the link below to download the enrollment document and follow the instructions on the form to complete the process.
More information and forms can be found here
Where do I find the Internship form (Learning Agreement)
All necessary forms can be found here
Where do I find the Evaluation forms?
Evaluations are now done through Qualtrics; you will receive an e-mail with a link to your evaluation.