Internships and Co-OPs

The Electrical and Computer Engineering programs at St. Cloud State do not have an internship or co-operative education requirement.  However, recognizing that industry experience is an excellent way for a student to solidify the knowledge learned in the classroom, we encourage all students to pursue an internship or co-op experience with a company.

Students wishing to pursue an internship or co-op should do the following:

  • Talk to your advisor.  Make sure you get the classes that would make you marketable early.  It may be a good class, but the History of Rock and Roll will not get you an engineering internship. 
  • See Career Services in Centennial Hall 215 to:
    • Create a resume
    • Research internship and co-op opportunities
    • Register with their campus recruiting system at so you can sign up for campus interviews and receive job postings
    • Connect with employers at career fairs
    • Participate in mock interviews, networking events, and other activities
  • Find companies in places where you want to work and check their employment websites.
  • Sign up for ECE 444 to receive credit for your internship or co-op.  This credit counts for your senior elective.  You will need your offer letter to get permission to sign up for this course, and will be expected to write a paper about your experience.

More companies are offering co-op experiences, where they expect the student to work for a semester and a summer.  Some students seem to avoid these for various reasons, including not wanting to delay graduation and potential housing difficulties.  However, students need to weigh the value of the extended experience against being delayed in graduation or not being able to live with certain friends.  Some of the advantages are:

  • Experience counts.  The extra time often counts towards your seniority with the company and puts you at the front of the line for any jobs.
  • Longer projects.  You can see something to the end, rather than leaving just when things get interesting.
  • Better networking opportunities.  You get to know more people for a longer period of time. 
  • Good pay without some of the expenses of school.  You are generally paid well, and you don't have to pay for tuition, fees, and books, allowing you to save your money.  This could mean fewer loans or not having to work when you come back to school.

The Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at St. Cloud State University supports co-op experiences for our students by minimizing course sequences during the sophomore and junior year, and by offering sequenced courses every semester.  Please speak with your advisor so you can register for the proper courses both before and after your co-op experience.

At the end of my Sophomore year at SCSU (2006), I was given the opportunity to participate in a co-op at The Boeing Company in Anaheim, CA. After a round of interviews, I was relocated to sunny California. The commitment was six months and delayed my graduation by a semester, but ended up being extremely useful in the transition from my college to professional career. The additional time there gave me a unique view into my eventual career by allowing me to take on more extensive and interesting projects than some of my fellow interns that returned to school at the end of the summer. It also gave me more time to network and build work relationships that led to additional opportunities in the following years. At the end of my co-op I was offered an internship position for the following summer that allowed me to further build experience and jump right in on new projects. When I graduated in the spring of 2008, I was immediately offered a full-time position with Boeing and spent the first 3 years of my career there.

If you get the chance to apply for a co-op program while looking for an internship, I would strongly encourage that you take it. Like internships, co-ops provide a glimpse into your future, give you valuable work experience and look fantastic on a resume but to an even greater extent. The additional time commitment may delay your planned graduation date, but it gives you more experience and additional opportunities strengthen your professional network. A co-op also requires a larger investment from your employer that makes your ability to transition to full-time after graduation much easier.

Patrick Baumann  SCSU Computer Engineering Grad, 2008


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