As an international student, we often forget about the importance of internships and getting practical experience in the US. We often just focus on our academics mainly. Our days consists of going to class, studying hard and getting A’s on all our classes. Now we need to realize that this is not the full college experience. Therefore, we should plan to get some sort of practical experiences, whether it’s an internship, co-op program, study abroad, research or even getting involved with professional student groups. In my opinion, I think doing a co-op is best way to get practical experience because co-ops offer up to 3 semesters of working with a company in your field of study while getting paid a competitive wage. As opposed to internships, in a co-op you get the chance to learn a lot more about the job since you much more time. Also, companies tend to put more efforts and attention to co-ops since there is a very high chance of getting hired for another position after the co-op.
Many majors at the U of M offers co-op programs as part of your technical elective credits. Meaning that you can receive technical electives credits for each semester in the co-op program. To explain the co-op program in simple terms, its basically a long internship. Internships usually lasts 3-4 months, co-ops last for 7-11 months or 3 semesters and it can be done in nonconsecutive semesters meaning you can work for one semester and the next semester take classes, which is what I did.
I’m going to talk a little bit about my experience in the co-op program. I started my journey in the co-op in summer 17, I applied for a total of 7 companies from which I got 5 interviews. I worked hard to prepare for the interviews and got job offers from 3 companies. I accepted a job offer from the company that matches my interest and with the highest wage. Oh did I mention that its paid . Another bonus of participating in the co-op program is you get to interview with many companies which helped me enhance my interviewing skills. I’m really enjoying working as a co-op because you feel that you’re already a professional engineer and at the same time still a student. If you need to hear more about it, please don’t hesitate to ask me .