4 types of internships: a guide

By Universityparent.Com

With so many different options of available Internships, students (and their parents) may be confused about the different types of internships. Leverage this guide to better understand what’s out there and for some helpful hints on how to tell the difference.

Co-Op (Cooperative Education)
A co-op is a three-way partnership between a student, an employer, and a college or university. Co-Ops allow students to gain valuable work experience while also earning college credits. Many colleges endorse cooperative education by partnering with a variety of employers to provide career-related opportunities. Participating students work in jobs that relate to their majors.

A practicum is a college course, often in a specialized field of study, that is designed to give students supervised practical application of a previously studied theory. Students work in teams or individually under the joint supervision of an employer and an academic adviser. To learn more about setting up a practicum, students should meet with their academic advisor or department head and target areas that are tailored to their personal, educational, and career goals.


Externships are distinguished by their short duration (usually one to three weeks) and are typically unpaid. Students spend a short period of time observing and often working with professionals in their career field of choice, allowing them to experience a typical day on the job and observe the work environment and demands of the career. Externships enable students to investigate a career field without making a long-term commitment.


Apprenticeships offer both practical experience and in-school training, while allowing students to learn a skilled trade and make money doing it. Apprenticeships are paid and wages increase as the apprentice gains experience.

Service learning is usually structured as a three step process in which students outline their proposed service term and objectives, perform the service work, and then present conclusions based on an analysis of their experiences. Service learning allows students to work in organized service.