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Choosing the Right Internship for You

Thursday | September 8, 2016 | by Kaitlin Ramby

A woman in an office at an internship interview

Internships are a great way to gain work experience as an international student. But what types of internships can you choose from, and which is the right fit for you? The type of internship you go for depends on a number of things: your schedule, career goals, where you want to work after school, and more. Here we have detailed what you can expect from the different internship types, so you know what to expect when applying to internship positions.

Co-Operative Education (Co-Op)

A Co-Op is a work agreement made between a student, an employer, and a college or university and tends to have a longer duration than the typical internship (up to a full year or more). Many students benefit from Co-Ops because they can receive college credit while gaining valuable work experience in their field of study at the same time. Students can also earn money through a Co-Op agreement, network with other professionals in the same field, and get their foot in the door at a desirable organization before graduating.


An apprenticeship is a good option for students who are looking to work in a highly skilled industry, such as graphic design, culinary arts, engineering, and health care. Students can learn the skills of their trade while also earning money. Apprenticeships are long in duration, and can last anywhere from one to five years. As students progress through more advanced levels of apprenticeship, they can also receive wage increases. Although apprenticeships were once thought to be a thing of the past, they have made a comeback in recent years as the gap widens between what students learn in school and what employers need from their workers.


Also referred to as “job shadowing,” externships are typically categorized by their short duration. Externships last anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks. This type of internship is most often for students who are considering a career in a certain field and want to experience a “day in the life” of that profession. The intern will most often spend time observing the work of a mentor they are assigned to, while also occasionally working with other career professionals.

Non-profit Internship

Although typically unpaid, non-profit internships are a great way to perform public service work that will look impressive to employers. In a non-profit internship, students will most often find themselves working for government agencies, charities, schools, or religious organizations, where they help provide service for a specific cause. Gaining work experience at a non-profit is a great option for students who are looking to work in public service or non-profit sector.


Practicum is when a school course requires students to apply what they learn in the classroom to a real-life project. Students will work in teams under the supervision of both an academic advisor and an employer. A practicum will usually last as long as the college course, so about a semester. Although practicum is more often than not unpaid, students are presented with the opportunity to work in a collaborative team, and make a good impression on a prospective employer.

When choosing an internship, it’s important to know the various types, so that you can make an educated decision that will be the most beneficial to your long-term goals. If you aren’t sure where to start, try seeking out advice from the resources offered at your university. You may discover great opportunities you otherwise wouldn’t have known about through searching on your own.

Your turn: Have you ever had an internship in the U.S. or Canada? If so, what type of internship did you have, and how did it impact your education? Let us know in the comments below!

Kaitlin Ramby

Kaitlin Ramby is the former Digital Content Producer and a Contributing Writer for World Education Services.