Professional work experiences in ISE
The ISE Department strongly encourages students to take advantage of all types of practical experience relating to their major. Through effective collaborative planning by the student, the Academic Advisor, and Career Services, an internship, cooperative education (co-op), or externship experience can greatly enhance the student's academic knowledge. While the ISE academic program is structured, students may still complete a coop/internship often with only an additional semester or year. There are work experiences of varying length: for instance, lasting a summer (internship), one to three semesters (co-op), or a few hours or a few days, shadowing a person in your career field ('externship').
There are many reasons to complete coops/internships within the ISE program. The experience gained is invaluable and can often lead to permanent employment with the company after graduation. This type of educational opportunity can also help students focus on areas of particular interest to further pursue upon return to campus through selection of electives, independent study, or undergraduate research. Also, many companies are increasingly expecting the successful candidate to have some prior work experience before hiring. This gives the student a definite advantage over those having no real-world work experience and training. Those ISE students who have participated in coop or internships consistently provide us with feedback that their experience has increased their satisfaction with the ISE Undergraduate Program by providing a depth of knowledge gained through application, teamwork, and communication.
How to obtain co-op/internship experiences
Contact ISE Academic Advisor
There are several different ways to obtain this experience. The Academic Advisor receives many contacts throughout the year from employers looking for an intern to work in their organization. The Advisor sends the position description via the ISE Undergraduate listserv, and the student can respond directly to the employer to apply to the company.
Contact Career and Pofessional Development @ Virginia Tech
We also highly encourage students to take full advantage of the opportunities and resources for finding coops and internships through the Career and Professional Development @ Virginia Tech (formally known as Career Services). It is located at the corner of Washington Street and West Campus Drive on campus.
We suggest to our students that they proceed through the well established programs through the Career and Professional Development for several reasons. First, Career and Professional Development guides the student through the paper work needed, including writing cover letters, resumes, and documents for employment. Second, Career and Professional Development works with the employers and the students to maintain accountability for both parties. This includes ensuring a reasonable and meaningful experience by the company for the student, and also makes the student responsible for completing the rotation in a responsible manner. There are progress reports by both company and student which are kept on file and can be used as references later for employment or graduate school. Lastly, Career and Professional Development enrolls the student, if participating during the semesters, in a one credit hour 'class', and if finished successfully is reflected on the student's transcript. Career and Professional Development also acknowledges this with a certificate of completion.
Cooperate Education & Internship Program (CEIP)
To find more information on Internship and Cooperative Education (co-op) experiences, contact the ISE Department Advisor, and/or go to the Career and Professional Development @ Virginia Tech website and read more about the actual process.