It’s a well-known fact that once a graduate enters the working force, the one common requirement by all industries is proof of some sort of work experience. To help with this dilemma, universities have started offering degrees that offer work opportunities and experience during the course of your study program. There are many types of structured work experiences, such as co-op placements, internships and so on.

Universities and colleges usually have affiliated firms where co-op students and interns can enroll to study and participate in a job position which is relevant to their field of study.

Co-operative education combines your study program with an official paid work term. Co-op aims to mimic a career in your field, and to introduce you to tasks that you would be doing if you continue in this career.

Co-op programs have many benefits that you could consider before applying:

–   You get work experience in your field

–   You get paid for your work as a co-op student

–   You can network and make valuable connections

–   You can take a break from your studies

–   You get interviewing and resume-building skills

–   You can understand what a workplace culture is like

–   You can increase your awareness of global challenges and industry issues

However, a co-op program isn’t for everyone. Here are some cons that you should think about before applying:

–   A co-op program can cause your degree to take longer to complete

–   You need more organization to plan your degree because some courses are only offered at certain times.

–   The workload can be hectic

–   A co-op program can cost more than without.

–   There is no guarantee of a co-op position

Some universities in Canada offer co-op programs.

Internships are supervised full or part-time work experience opportunities related to a student’s area of study. This could be paid or unpaid. The advantages and disadvantages are the same as those of co-op programs. Where co-op programs are multi-work term agreements, internships are only one-term work assignments, usually in the summers,

Some countries that are well-known for programs that offer such work opportunities:

·   Australia

Many students in Australia take part in internships. For some courses, it’s even compulsory, and students get academic credit for their work. Usually, however, these internships are unpaid.

·   Canada

Universities in Canada offers programs for co-op, internships and/or work-integrated learning. International students are required to apply for a co-op or intern work permit if they want to participate in these programs.

·   United Kingdom

Institutes in the United Kingdom offer for students: internships and work placements for work experience opportunities.

Internships vary in how long they can be, and students don’t receive academic credit. Students are paid at least the National Minimum Wage.

·   United States

International students in the US have some options for work experience while studying: CPT (Curricular Practical Training) and OPT (Optional Practical Training). Students are required to complete their first year before they can be considered for these programs.

CPT is off-campus training outlined in a degree outline. OPT is off-campus internships or employment within their field of study. However, for OPT, students are required to apply for an additional visa.