Undergraduate student program to gain real-world, full-time, career-related work experience during college. Students enrolled in CEIP maintain student standing during work terms.

VT students, Samuel Elizondo (center in left photo below) and Siddhantha Pai (center photo below), were featured in a VT News Spotlight on the Cooperative Education and Internship Program. VT students co-oping at Disney in right photo below.

VT students at co-op
VT students at co-op


About CEIP

  • The Career and Professional Development Cooperative Education & Internship Program is an undergraduate program to incorporate real world work experience and learning into the student's college academic experience.
  • The program is a partnership among the undergraduate student, the employer and Virginia Tech, represented by Career and Professional Development and the academic departments. Each partner has responsibility to be honest and ethical. Each student represents not only himself or herself, but also her/his academic department and the university. Conduct and performance should be of the highest standards.
  • Co-ops and internships give students educationally-related work and learning experience that integrates theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skill development on the job, and contributes to the development of personal and professional maturity and ethics.
  • Co-ops and internships give employers the opportunity to assist in the student's development, supplement their workforce with emerging talent, and enhance their long-range recruiting efforts by evaluating students' potential for employment at graduation.

Goals for students

  • Enhance students' educational experience with real-world career-related work experience.
  • Develop skills and knowledge applicable to their career fields.
  • Explore, through on-the-job experience, the career options related to their academic work, and to verify interest in those career options.
  • Increase students' maturity level by exposure to the professional work environment.
  • Build credentials to enhance their opportunities at graduation for employment or admission to graduate school.

Benefits to employers

  • Provide pre-professional personnel who are open to training and highly motivated.
  • Meet seasonal needs and release professional staff from work that can be delegated.
  • Good public relations on the campus when co-op / internship students have positive experiences with your organization.
  • Opportunity to try out prospective future employees through the framework of co-op / internships. However, there is no obligation to offer a co-op / internship student employment at graduation.


  • “Co-op” usually refers to a multi-work term agreement with one employer; traditionally with at least three work terms alternated with school terms, resulting in a five-year degree program for what would otherwise take four years. Co-ops are traditionally full-time, paid positions.
  • “Internship” usually refers to a one-term work assignment, most often in the summer, but not always. Internships can be full- or part-time, paid or unpaid, depending on the employer and the career field.
  • However, beware: Not all employers use these terms consistently or with consistent meanings!
  • Some employers use the term co-op to refer to a one- or two-term work assignment.
  • Internships can occur in fall or spring semesters, as well as summer, and internships can sometimes be multi-term programs.
  • When you talk with employers about their programs, make absolutely sure you know their program requirements, and know what they expect of you so that you can seek good fit or match.
  • Both terms "co-op" and "internship" are in our program name because students in either type of work experience may enroll in the program if the work experience is eligible.

What about part-time, unpaid, or academic-credit internships?

  • Some employers offer internships that are part-time and/or unpaid and/or require you to earn academic credit. These are common in some career fields, and can be great experiences.
    Please note that students do not enroll in CEIP for academic credit.
  • Academic credit can only be granted by academic departments, and each academic department has its own policies on whether or not it will grant academic credit for an internship.
  • Students interested in credit-bearing internships should discuss this with your academic major department.

What's eligible for CEIP?

  • Job requirements to be eligible for the program.
  • Student eligibility.
  • Career and Professional Development does not require students to be enrolled in our program. Employers sometimes require students to be enrolled with their institution's co-op program. It is to students' advantage to enroll in the program if any work terms are in fall and/or spring semesters so that you maintain student standing while working.

Rules in academic departments

  • Each academic department can set its own rules regarding GPA, number of work terms required, and work / school schedules for student participation in co-ops and internships.  

Sources through which students found their work positions for CEIP:

  • 20%   Engineering Expo.
  • 16%   Connection fall and spring job fairs, sponsored by Career & Professional Development.
  • 4%      All other job fairs held at VT.
  • 4%      Personal contacts in the employing organization.
  • 18%   Student contacted organization directly.
  • 6%      Source in academic department.
  • 15%   On-Campus Interviewing Program and Hokies4Hire.
  • 3%      Worked for the employer before in another capacity.
  • 13%   Other.

For students who want to join CEIP

  1. Register in Hokies4Hire to attend Orientation
    See CEIP events calendar for orientation sessions; details explain how to sign up in Hokie4Hire.
    CEIP orientation includes job search strategies and activities to prepare for success on the job.
    Sessions are offered throughout the semester. You only need to attend one.
    We strongly suggest you attend an orientation before you start your job search, so you will know what to discuss with prospective employers.
  2. Prepare your resume.
    Develop your resume using  our resume guide and Career Planning Guide.
    Have your resume critiqued through walk-in advising and make needed revisions.
  3. In Hokies4Hire [H4H], upload your resume, and look for jobs listed in H4H.
    Review job postings and upcoming employer information sessions.
    Apply for jobs of interest in H4H, and attend employer info sessions of interest.
    Create a job search agent to notify you of new postings that fit your criteria.
    Note that some job postings in Hokies4Hire also include On-Campus Interviews (OCI Program), and by applying for these jobs you might receive interview offers.
    More about Hokies4Hire.
    Log in to Hokies4Hire.
  4. Job search and interviewing.
    Begin your search for co-op/internship positions.
    In addition to Hokies4Hire, use many sources to find co-op and internship jobs.
    Learn how to present yourself in a job search, including how to write job search letters, use email, phone skills, prepare for job fairs and interviewing, preparing a reference list, and more.
  5. Job offer and acceptance.
    Once you accept an offer, stop the job search process and cease interviewing.
    Do not renege on your commitment.
    Read about deciding on a job offer for guidance on accepting and declining offers, and sample letters.
    Have your employer provide your job offer AND job description, with start- and end-dates, in writing.
    Log in to Hokies4Hire  to "Report a Co-op/Internship Hire," and upload your job offer letter AND your job description. Here's how:
    • Log in to Hokies4Hire
    • Select from the left menu bar: I want to: Report A Co-op/Intern Hire. 
    • Select from the top of the page the semester you plan to begin work (2017-Spring, 2017-Summer I, etc.) 
    • Below the co-op term you selected, there are 3 tabs: My Jobs, My Schedules, and Other. 
    • If you received your offer from a job posted ON H4H: Find your employer under the My Jobs tab and click Select under Action. 
    • If you received your offer as the result of an On-Campus Interview that you scheduled ON H4H: Find your employer under the My Schedules tab and click Select under Action. 
    • If you received your offer from a career fair or any other means, click on the Other tab. You will Enter the official name of your employer (found on your offer letter); then click Save. 
    • Complete ALL fields; then scan your offer letter and job description together as one file; upload that file and click Save. 
    • Please correct any errors at this time by using the Edit option.
  6. Meet with the CEIP Enrollment Coordinator.
    Call 540-231-6241 or visit during office hours; speak to one of our receptionists to schedule your appointment. During the appointment you will develop your Work/School Schedule and go over assignments for CEIP. Once all pre-registration procedures and work approvals have been completed, the CEIP enrollment coordinator will register you in CEP 4084 for the term you will be working. You will receive a confirmation email when your registration is processed.
  • Orientation to CEIP is offered throughout fall and spring semester. 
  • Dates, times, details, and how to sign up are listed on the CEIP events calendar.
  • Use the many sources to find co-op and internship jobs.
  • Be aware of the sources through which students have found their work positions for CEIP:
    • 20%   Engineering Expo.
    • 16%   Connection fall and spring job fairs, sponsored by Career & Professional Development.
    • 4%      All other job fairs held at VT.
    • 4%      Personal contacts in the employing organization.
    • 18%   Student contacted organization directly.
    • 6%      Source in academic department.
    • 15%   On-Campus Interviewing Program and Hokies4Hire.
    • 3%      Worked for the employer before in another capacity.
    • 13%   Other.

You have received an offer!? Congratulations. Stop. Think first:

  • An employer who offers you a co-op or internship position should not ask you for an immediate acceptance and you should not give one.
  • Do express thanks for the offer, your interest in the offer, and your intention to carefully consider and make sure you understand the details of the offer.
  • Saying thank you and saying yes to the offer are not the same thing.
  • Before you say "yes," and accept the offer, think about it. Read the terms of the offer. Sleep on it. Ask questions of the employer if you do not fully understand the terms. Talk to family members. Talk with your Career & Professional Development CEIP advisor if you wish.
  • Ideally an employer should give you at least two weeks to consider an offer. However, the employer may be under time pressure to hire a candidate, and/or the start date could be very soon, so the employer might need your answer in less time. At the very minimum, the employer should give you two days to consider the offer.
  • Don't accept an offer until you are sure of your decision and until the employer has given you enough information on which to base your decision. Again, ask the employer any questions you need answered before you make a decision.
  • If you are in a difficult or confusing situation that you are not sure how to handle, call us to arrange to talk with your CEIP  advisor.

Understand the rules and ETHICAL issues about responding to an offer.

  • Don't accept a job offer — even verbally — until you are certain you are committed.
  • Don't back out after accepting — that's called reneging, and is unethical. Reneging on an offer will make you ineligible to register with the Undergraduate Cooperative Education and Internship Program if you accept another employment offer.
  • An employer should never pressure you to renege on another employer. If this happens to you, discuss this with your CEIP advisor.
  • Once you have accepted a job offer, notify any other employers with whom you are in discussion about employment that you are no longer a candidate. Cancel any upcoming interviews by courteously explaining that you have accepted another job offer.
  • Read more about deciding on a job offer for guidance on accepting and declining offers, and sample letters.


For employers: developing your co-op or internship program

For a successful program, everyone involved needs to be on board, from HR, to supervisors, to co-workers, to management. Co-op and internship programs require funding, time, resources, and personnel to be successful.

If you choose a multiple-work-term arrangement, you as the employer must make the commitment for the student to fit into your organization long-term, and for the assignment to develop over the agreed-upon number of work terms.

Some issues involved in creating and sustaining a quality program:

  • Salary
  • Funding for recruitment efforts
  • Time and funding to train program coordinators / supervisors
  • Involving management from the top down
  • Using staff to train, supervise and mentor students
  • Involving students as an integral part of the organization
  • Providing meaningful work assignments
  • Develop quality and meaningful work assignments for students. Virginia Tech students tell us that having a well-defined project in addition to daily tasks is something they value in a co-op or internship position.
  • Determine eligibility requirements, including appropriate undergraduate majors, preferred grade point average, skills needed, and work/school rotations.
  • Put the job description in writing.
  • If multiple work terms are agreed upon, plan for the second and third work terms to build upon and exceed the responsibilities of the previous work term(s).
  • The student is required to consult with you before beginning work to create learning objectives for the work term — to which you will agree.  Be prepared to suggest learning objectives appropriate to the student's assignment in your organization.
  • Provide the student with an orientation to organizational policies, procedures, and utilization of resources, as well as job-specific training. More below on orientation & training.
  • Plan for effective supervision. See more on supervision below.
  • Have students participate in training and professional development opportunities available to other employees.
  • In addition to the supervisor, assign a mentor who can provide guidance.
  • Provide consistent and appropriate feedback to the student throughout the work assignment. See more below about evaluation.
  • Have students give written and verbal reports on projects that are in progress or have been completed.

Salary rates and other benefits are set at your discretion.

Consider the following:

Salary factors

  • Major / career field:
    Co-op and internship salaries tend to resemble salaries of entry-level employees in the same field. This is particularly true for technical majors.
  • GPA:
    Top students in any major may require higher salaries if your organization wishes to be competitive.
  • Academic level (sophomore, junior or senior level).
  • Whether the work assignment is the student's 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc., with the employer. Most organizations give students a raise each time they return for subsequent work assignments.
  • Data:
    Virginia Tech Career and Professional Development gathers Undergraduate Cooperative Education and Internship Program salary data for our students' first work terms. If you use this information to set your pay rates, look at the dates for the salary information and factor in an appropriate percentage increase consistent with increases in your offers to entry level-employees.

Relocation expenses

Most employers reimburse students for transportation and moving expenses at the beginning and end of each work term. Payment for additional relocation expenses is at the discretion of the employer.


Housing arrangements are a primary concern of Virginia Tech students who relocate for their co-op or internship positions. It is critical that prior to your first hire you determine how you will assist students who need housing during their work terms. Employers have assisted with housing in a variety of ways, including:

  • Providing an apartment
  • Providing a housing allowance
  • Matching students with other co-ops and interns so that expenses can be shared
  • At a minimum, providing information about housing / apartment complexes that provide short term leases


Students who participate in the Cooperative Education and Internship Program must be enrolled with the university during their work terms. This allows students to remain covered by the same health insurance that covers them while they are enrolled in courses.

Employing organizations vary in the extent to which they provide benefits (sick days, vacation time, tuition reimbursement, etc.) to co-ops and interns. Your organization should provide what you see fit, depending on your legal requirements, your internal policies, and the standards in your field.

Please note that while students may enroll in CEIP for both paid and unpaid positions, employers are advised to consult your human resources personnel and legal counsel to make determinations on whether interns are paid or unpaid in your organization.

Federal courts have made rulings on this topic. Based on federal rulings, NACE, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, has created guidelines and criteria on whether interns should be paid. Please see:

  • When extending offers to students, please be clear about salary, start and end dates, work location, and any benefits you will provide.
  • Any verbal offer should also be confirmed in writing to the student. The student is required to submit a copy of the written offer to CEIP in order to enroll in CEIP.
  • Please realize that students may need time to make a well-informed decision; we recommend that you provide students a minimum of two weeks to give you an answer.
  • If an offer is accepted, please instruct the student to consult CEIP to take steps to enroll; students who fail to complete the CEIP requirements will not be enrolled in CEIP.

Virginia Tech students are required to attend a seminar on professionalism and business etiquette before they are permitted to enroll with the CEIP and begin their work assignment. However, this does not substitute for orientation you provide to your workplace.

Give students the same orientation to policies that you provide other employees. Clearly communicate your expectations for behavior and performance at the beginning of the work term.

Many organizations use more experienced co-ops, interns, and mentors as part of orientation for new students.

Don't overlook the basics. (We can tell you some funny stories about mistakes students made because they were young and naive!) For many students, the co-op or internship job is the first experience in a professional environment. Include:

  • Training on office equipment and policies regarding their use.
  • Organizational protocol with regard to confidential materials, computer usage, and any other sensitive topics.
  • Detailed information regarding job tasks, how and when the student will be evaluated, organizational policies, dress code, attendance issues (overtime, sick leave, vacation), and the facility (restrooms, break room, etc.).
  • Introductions to co-workers and explanation of how other workers' responsibilities relate to the student's work.
  • How your department fits into the organization as a whole.
  • Customer service and/or proper etiquette for business contact.

Include the student in departmental activities, such as lunch plans or social gatherings after work. Be aware that underaged students should not be offered or served alcohol, and should see appropriate behavior modeled by other employees.

Have students participate in training and professional development opportunities available to other employees.

The quality of supervision can make or break your co-op or internship program.

Provide a positive supervisory experience that encourages the academic, professional, and personal growth of the student.

One of the primary reasons students choose to co-op or intern is to learn — a supervisor should be interested in ongoing teaching and coaching.

The supervisor should be committed to and enthusiastic about your co-op or internship program and should understand the program requirements and the time commitment.

The supervisor should have good interpersonal skills, technical expertise, and the ability to help students understand how their work fits into the big picture.

A supervisor should be able to provide on-going feedback, and be comfortable being a subject for evaluation.

Have supervisors participate in supervisor training appropriate for your organization.

The Career and Professional Development Cooperative Education and Internship Program has specific evaluation requirements, as outlined below.

In addition, to resolve potential problems early and to make your program successful, we recommend:

  • Keep students continually informed (weekly, bi-weekly) of what is expected of them and how well they are performing.
  • Let the student know when work is done well, and give the opportunity to improve / correct problems before the end of the assignment. Don't assume that the student's evaluation of her/his own work is the same as the supervisor's.
  • Create a means for all your co-op students to evaluate your program internally, including evaluation of supervision. This enables you to identify strengths and potential problem areas in your program.

Student evaluation of each work term / learning objectives

At the close of each work term, students must complete a Cooperative Education and Internship Program Self-Evaluation and submit it to Career and Professional Development. The student will meet to discuss this with his/her CEIP advisor upon return to school.

Employer evaluation of each work term

Terminating a student

If performance issues or other circumstances require termination of a student's employment before completion of all work terms, or during a work term, the employer is responsible for informing the student at once and for informing the CEIP office.