Co-op, Internships, and Clinicals at Cincy State

What’s the Difference?

As we near the end of the Fall semester and begin planning for the New Year, there are other things to consider for next semester than just classes, things like Cooperative Education. At Cincinnati State, we pride ourselves on cooperative education, also known as co-ops. Many of our two-year degree programs require a co-op component for graduation. For more than 50 years, cooperative education has been an integral part of the curriculum for our degree programs. There are other degrees that require an internship or clinical alternative, which begs the question – what is the difference between a co-op, an internship, and a clinical?

During your time at Cincinnati State, our goal is to make you the best graduate you can be and prepare you for your pending career with a co-op, internship, or clinical under your belt. Co-op education develops three fundamental partnerships: institution, student, and employer. Cincinnati State initiated the co-op education option back in 1969 as one of the fundamental foundations for the college, in part due to the benefit provided to each of these partners. Cincinnati State was the first two-year college to make co-ops mandatory. Over the years, the requirements and regulations, employers, businesses, and industries for co-ops and internships have evolved. However, the mission and the goal remain the same – provide access, opportunity, and support in achieving success for individuals seeking exceptional technical, transfer, and experiential/cooperative education along with workforce training. Brian Hooten, Cooperative Education Coordinator at Cincinnati State, summed up a co-op as “…experiencing the job, rather than learning about it in the classroom or reading the glorifying activities online.”

Co-op vs. Internship vs. Clinicals

At the most basic level, the difference between an internship, a co-op, and clinicals can be understood by seeing an internship as an exploration into a particular field of study, a co-op as in-depth, hands- on role as an employee of that company with pay, and clinicals as a required part of the degree curriculum without compensation typically in the field of healthcare. For this article, these generalizations will represent the norm and be the basic definitions we’ll utilize. However, we do acknowledge that there are always exceptions. 

Co-ops are true performance-based positions that are paid. Productivity is expected and, in some cases, demanded. Some consider co-ops “test-jobs” where one works in their field to gain experience and to reassure themselves that they are in their correctly chosen profession. Since co-ops are paid positions, students have the ability to both supplement their education and reduce student debt by the conclusion of their studies. The pay is typically hourly can range from $8 – $18 per hour.

Clinicals are supervised performances with actual patients in the healthcare field.  For example, nursing clinicals make sure that nursing students are ready to handle healthcare situations on real patients, putting into practice everything they have learned in the classroom. For many universities, clinicals are built into the curriculum of the degree program, required to complete, and are unpaid .

Benefits of Co-ops

Transitioning: Many Cincinnati State students stay on with their co-op employer after graduation and find their career start.  Others that move on have a much better understanding of the career environment, regardless of what company they join. The ease of transitioning a co-op student to a full-time employee is to an employer’s benefit too. Co-op students can be hired full-time and eliminate the new employee probation period. Co-op students are already time-tested and approved.  Co-op is a semester-long interview, so make the most of it by learning, applying, networking, and living the moment for future reference.”  – Brian Hooten, Cooperative Education Coordinator at Cincinnati State

Increased Value: Co-op learners, especially Cincinnati State students, have a serious leg-up on their fellow employment seekers, due to the experience they gain.  Cincinnati State co-op students garner connections in the industry by working for a semester, or even longer in one or multiple businesses. Co-op students know people in their field, have established some name recognition, and in some cases are known and wanted commodities. Their experiences in the field provide a huge boost to their résumé as employers pay for that experience. Co-op students graduate with highly marketable job skills, impressive credentials, and advanced network connections, all of which often translates to higher salary offers.

Discover Your Co-op TODAY!

As you prepare for next semester, next year, and graduation, consider researching your co-op options, and take advantage of all the benefits it delivers. Connect with your co-op coordinator before next semester to learn more and to start building your future career before you graduate.