While getting experience and enhancing your skills and knowledge in your field is the best benefit of a co-op/internship to you as a student, another benefit is the opportunity to earn course credit for your work experience. Many employers who are unable to provide a salary to an intern/co-op, require the student be enrolled in a course and receive credit for the experience as a way of ensuring student accountability for the work assignment and job responsibilities. Being enrolled for academic credit for the co-op/internship experience also means you have access to a WKU faculty or staff member to provide support and guidance as you begin to utilize your classroom knowledge "on the job", or learn new skills "on the job" that you want to integrate into other classroom projects.
During the process of obtaining your internship/co-op, your Career Services Center career counselor/Liaison will assist you in contacting your academic advisor or a faculty member who oversees the internship/practicum/co-op course in your major. You, the student, will be responsible for finding out the educational and course requirements that must be met during the work experience. It's good to know these academic course requirements before you begin your job search so that you can work with potential employers to inquire about being assigned job responsibilities or worksite projects that will allow you to receive academic course credit.
If an internship/co-op/practicum course is offered and the student has met prerequisites (many internship/co-op courses do have prerequisites), then the student should contact his/her academic advisor to find out how to enroll in the course. To find out if your academic program offers an internship/co-op/practicum course, consult the WKU course catalogue, talk with your academic advisor, or contact your career counselor/Liaison within the Career Services Center.
While obtaining course credit is ideal and highly encouraged, some students may opt to complete the work experience without attaching it to an academic course. As you make the decision about seeking credit for working in a career-related position, please consider that you may want the experience to be validated by appearing on your transcript (for future employers to see), and by having a WKU course instructor available to guide you while you're engaged in the worksite experience. Your instructor may also be willing to serve as a reference regarding the career-related experience and skills you obtain while "on-the-job."
If your academic department does not offer internship/co-op/practicum credit, the CO-OP 200 course may be for you (see below for more information). Whether or not you are able to obtain academic credit for the work performed, it is still important that you, as a student, gain some "relevant work experience." The more career-related experience you can obtain, the more advantage you have over those who did not gain any career-related work experience while completing their academic degree program. For additional information, contact the Career Services Center (270) 745-3095 or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
CO-OP 200 Course
If you are interested in participating in a co-op or internship and are unable to receive credit in your academic program, the Career Services Center offers a non-credit/non-graded online course, CO-OP 200. Taught by Career Services Center professionals through Blackboard, it allows students involved in a co-op/internship assignment to remain enrolled at WKU and be considered a full-time student. Enrollment will be designated on each student's transcript. A course pass is required and there are course assignments. This course was specifically designed to accommodate those students who will be involved in a co-op/internship experience and cannot receive credit through their academic department. Benefits of enrolling in CO-OP 200:
- A record of enrollment in this course will appear on your transcript for the period of time you are enrolled in the course.
- At your request, your Career Services Center career counselor/Liaison can obtain a letter from the Registrar's Office, which states that students on full time internship or co-op experiences are considered full-time students at WKU.
- This letter is accepted by most scholarship and insurance organizations as proof that you are considered to be a full time student while on your co-op or internship. Scholarships are usually deferred and student insurance rates maintained.
- Exception: This status is not accepted by Financial Aid for loans.
For enrollment in Co-op 200, schedule an appointment with your career counselor/Liaison in the Career Services Center (270) 745-3095, Downing University Center A-230 to discuss the course requirements and get clearance to register for this course. Co-op 200 is billed as a 1-hour (non-credit/non-graded) course. If you have questions about student billing or fees, please contact the Office of Billings and Receivables. Phone (270) 745-6381 or (270) 745-5370 or email: email@example.com.
Internship/Co-op Packet of Forms
Whether enrolled in Co-op 200, a co-op or internship course within your academic major, or not enrolled in a course to receive credit for your co-op/internship, your WKU Career Services Center career counselor/Liaison will ask you to complete certain forms that will help guide your experience, increase the opportunity for learning on the job, and will help validate and verify the experience/skills obtained while participating in a co-op/internship. Generally, you will be asked to complete a 1-2 page Learning Plan, 1 page Data Report, and a 1-2 page Work Report Narrative. Your employer/supervisor will be asked to complete a 2 page Evaluation of your work at the end of the work period. These completed forms can become part of your portfolio to show other potential employers as you begin your career after graduation.