Experiential Learning refers to the process of combining classroom knowledge with practical work experience primarily through internships and cooperative education. The Office Of Experiential Learning serves as a resource for students seeking these types of work experiences. The Experiential Learning Coordinator is available to advise students individually, prepare students for the internship application process, and provide materials which supplement and support that process.
An internship is a practical work experience related to a student's major that allows a student to apply classroom knowledge and academic principles. It is a single, planned educational experience, and its duration may be one semester, a summer, or any length of time agree upon between the student, the employer, and the university. Internships may be paid or unpaid, and the student may receive academic credit with approval from the academic department.
Cooperative Education (Co-op) is a structured and supervised academic work program typically lasting two or more semesters that alternate with academic semesters. Co-op positions are always paid and often earn academic credit. Like internships, they may be completed during any semester or summer. Since co-op positions typically require a student to work full-time hours making it difficult or impossible to balance a full-time academic course load, LSU Career Services offers a program so students can maintain full-time student status while working. This prevents a student from forfeiting TOPS or other scholarship funds, or losing automobile or medical insurance benefits. See 10 Things To Consider.
Internships and Co-ops allow students opportunities to apply classroom knowledge and academic principles in a real-world situation while earning a salary and gaining future employment references. Besides helping students build their resumes, work experience serves as a valuable tool to confirm, refine and define career choices. Research shows that employers: 1) are more likely to hire graduating students with proven major-related work experience; and 2) typically offer those hires a higher salary than someone without internship or co-op experience. Upon graduation, students completing Internships and co-ops are definitely more marketable in the eyes of employers.
Ultimate Career Goal - does this position help me move toward my career goal(s)?
Salary - is the position paid or unpaid? Is the salary reasonable or in an appropriate salary range?
Academic Course Credit - can I receive course credit for this internship? What is required to receive academic credit? Can I receive course credit even if I am getting paid?
Relocating - will I have to move to another city or state if I accept this position? Will the company assist with relocation expenses?
Housing - does the company provide housing accommodations for interns or help defray the cost for housing? What is the cost of housing in the area? Are there other interns willing to share housing?
Transportation - do I need to have a vehicle or is public transportation available?
Cost of Living - is the cost of living higher, lower or similar to my current living expenses?
Maintaining LSU full-time student status - how do I keep my TOPS or other scholarships if I intern during a fall or spring semester?
Length of time for internship - is the length of time reasonable? Does it conflict with the semester or summer schedule?
Working conditions - what type of organization or work environment am I seeking? Can I envision myself in this type of environment? Do other employees seem satisfied and productive? Are the physical conditions reasonable and safe?
Finding an internship that is a perfect match is like a treasure hunt where you have to dig several places before "striking gold." Remember that securing an internship is only part of the career planning process. For assistance with any of these steps, contact Cindy Seghers, email@example.com.
Step 1. Self-Examination
Assess your interests, values, abilities, and personality preferences. Start by completing an online assessment. Explore career goals by researching literature and checking out online resources such as the Occupational Information Network and the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Step 2. Research
Find out as much as possible about career options in which you are interested. Attend a "How To Find An Internship" workshop offered by the Experiential Learning Office or LSU Career Services. Schedule an individual appointment with the Experiential Learning Coordinator. Check out the Internship Leads Database and Careers2Geaux . Investigate other web sites such as www.internship.com and www.internweb.com. Attend the Career Expo each semester and discuss internship opportunities with employers. Talk with faculty about internships they believe would enhance your career path. Ask other students who completed an internship about their experience and what they recommend. Conduct information interviews with professionals in a selected career field.
Step 3. Get Organized
Most organizations or companies require a resume and cover letter. Other commonly requested items include transcripts, writing samples, references, and formal applications. If you do not have a resume, you may want to attend a Resume Writing Workshop and/or meet with the Experiential Learning Coordinator to critique it.
Register with Careers2Geaux so you can submit your resume and schedule interviews with employers coming to the LSU campus.
Based on your research, select a manageable number (15-35+ ) of companies to target and send them a letter or e-mail of inquiry, or begin the application process (for listed positions). Be sure to make a note of all application deadlines!! It is also a good idea to create a list or Excel spread sheet to track this information.
Step 4. Wait
When all the application materials are completed, mail them and ........wait. It may take up to a month to hear anything. If the application deadline has passed and you haven't heard from the employer, make a (polite) phone call asking if they received all your materials, if they need additional information, and when interviews will be conducted. You may be persistent but not annoying as you pursue opportunities.
Step 5. Interview
This is a crucial step if you want to secure an internship. In order to be well-prepared for a face-to-face meeting with an employer, it is to your advantage to learn and practice effective interviewing skills. Attend an Interviewing Skills workshop or research interviewing information to learn tips on making the most of your interview.
Volunteer service experience is another way in which students can "test drive" possible career choices while meeting a real community need, developing leadership and organizational skills, and growing in civic engagement. Students may take advantage of the broad range of local and regional service opportunities available with nonprofit agencies/organizations, public schools, and small businesses. Students may also enroll in an academic class that includes a service-learning component. To find out about service-learning courses, go to CCELL web site.
For additional information or to schedule an appointment, contact:
Cindy Seghers at firstname.lastname@example.org or (225) 578-0269.