20 Colleges That Offer Students Incredible Work Experience

As grand and glorious as the college experience can be, it often seems (especially in retrospect) unhelpfully detached from the remainder of life that one must spend in the “real world“. Luckily, over the past couple of decades, college administration, faculty, parents and students have all demonstrated increasing interest in finding ways to integrate practical work experience into undergraduate studies, through internships, job shadowing, professional training, and university-business partnerships.

Here are just 20 of the schools that, with their emphasis on internships, attempt to bridge the gap between the ivory tower and the rat race:

Georgia Institute of Technology

The Georgia Tech Internship Program, or GTIP, provides the apprentice-style experience and contacts that engineers need more than most. Students participate in one semester (sometimes two) of full-time or part-time work with quality high-tech employers.

Kettering University

Founded as an automotive trade school in the once-thriving, now-troubled manufacturing town of Flint, Mich., Kettering is another engineering program with an aggressive work component, including not only internships, but co-op programs that alternate semesters of study and semesters of employment with companies, from GM to Disney.

Northeastern University

Located in the self-proclaimed “Hub of the Universe,” Boston, Mass., Northeastern leverages Beantown’s concentration of employers in tech, finance, and a variety of other industries.

University of Cincinnati

Cincinnati provides its internships through a dedicated department called the Division of Professional Practice, aiming to maximize student participation in practical work education through its Academic internship Program.

Alverno College

This Catholic women’s college in Milwaukee, Wis., is renowned for its groundbreaking internship program, founded 40 years ago, which won the “Program of the Year” award from the National Society for Experiential Education in 2001.

University of Maryland–College Park

If you’re looking for a great internship, they’re “serving ‘em in the home of the Terrapins,” as Jay-Z once rapped. (Now that man would be a great one to job-shadow.)

Elon University

On a beautiful campus in the North Carolina town of the same name, Elon may lack the name recognition of the more high-profile Duke, but it has a world-class work initiative: its General Studies Program curriculum includes an Experiential Learning Requirement that can be satisfied by either an internship or a co-op.

Purdue University–West Lafayette

Purdue has a wide variety of internship offerings, including the Interns for Indiana Program which wisely seeks to prevent the brain-drain experienced throughout the Midwest with workers moving to the coasts, and the innovative Interns for Entrepreneurship concept, which focuses on tech startups.

Johnson and Wales University

This school, based in Providence, R.I., places massive emphasis on internships as a method of both education and career advancement. It seems to be working; more than 50% of students who participate receive job offers at the companies where they interned.

Rochester Institute of Technology

The Office of Cooperative Education & Career Services at RIT began as a co-op program in 1912 with 32 students finding job placements at 12 local companies. It’s now celebrating its centennial, demonstrating the enduring value of practical, hands-on training, from the Model T era to the iPad generation.

University of Southern California

Unsurprisingly, the school that gave us George Lucas and O.J. Simpson places a high value on doing versus thinking. Let your internship be a Trojan horse into big-time success.

Keuka College

Experiential education has been the raison d’être of Keuka College, a small school in Keuka Park, N.Y., for most of its history. In 1942, nine years after its founding, Keuka implemented what they call the Field Period as a once-a-year requirement for all students. That’s right, every student graduates from Keuka with not one, but four stretches of internship experience under his or her belt.

Portland State University

Portland State has assembled an impressive and comprehensive collection of internship resources. Both paid and unpaid opportunities are available.

Berea College

Berea College was founded just before the Civil War by Cassius M. Clay and the other radical abolitionist church leaders who founded the town of Berea, Ky. It has remained steadfast in its devotion to equality, intellectual freedom, and a bold, almost utopian Christian vision of a righteous, useful life. This mission extends to a superb internship program that places students with companies, nonprofits and NGOs.

Ohio State University–Columbus

THE Ohio State University, as its alumni invariably intone on Monday Night Football, is committed to hooking up all its beloved Buckeyes with great future job prospects (even if they aren’t top NFL draft picks).

Stanford University

If you get into Stanford, you should pack your bags for Palo Alto immediately, whether you’re interested in internships or not. Famous for incubating many of the startups that made Silicon Valley what it is, Stanford not only offers internships and co-ops but also externships, shadow programs, volunteering, community service, service learning, fellowships, and research opportunities.

Bradley University

Founded in 1897, Bradley University is a school of about 6,000 students in Peoria, Ill. It supplemented its longtime tradition of internship-based learning in 2008 with the opening of the Marjorie and Bill Springer Center for Excellence in Internships

Drexel University

Drexel has one of the largest and oldest co-op initiatives in the nation, dating back to 1919 and involving more than 1,500 employers.

Harvard University

America’s preeminent university has no centralized internship program, but needless to say, you can pretty much carve out your own path, not just in Massachusetts but nationwide, if that name is anywhere near the top of your CV.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Crosstown upstart MIT (you may have heard of it, it’s an engineering school of some kind?) places more emphasis than the Crimson on internships and co-op opportunities. Co-opportunities? Whatever you want to call it, grab on to one and find your future.


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