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Co-op (4-8 months) vs Internship (12-16 months)

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  • Jun 14th, 2010 6:21 pm
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[OP]
Sr. Member
Aug 10, 2007
882 posts
9 upvotes

Co-op (4-8 months) vs Internship (12-16 months)

What's your preference? No, we're not arguing why one is better than the other. They both have pros and cons.

I prefer co-op because it lets me try lots of jobs. I can find out what I don't like and have a lot more variety. Also, if you're stuck with something you don't like, it's only 4 months. The biggest con is that you can't see a project from start to finish because of your short time at a company, so they probably won't even give you a big project to begin with.
13 replies
Deal Addict
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Aug 11, 2008
1471 posts
39 upvotes
Markham
You pointed out the pros and cons for both types. When doing a 12 - 16 month internship, you will be dedicated to your job and most likely work on a long term project. I know a lot of my friends in PEY at UofT were involved in 16 month projects and will continue when they complete their final year. So with an internship you leave your mark and increase your chances of joining full time after graduation.

If people want to try different types of jobs in different roles then coop is the way to go. Most likely work on small projects and it gives you the exposure to different work environments.

Its a give and take but mostly personal perference.
Jr. Member
Mar 19, 2008
108 posts
1 upvote
noob city
You also forget less stuff from school if you come back every four months
Deal Addict
Jun 4, 2006
2069 posts
47 upvotes
I like co-op simply cuz...

After 3months of work, your like wtf why such hours, why cant i wake up at 10am...wtf...

After 4months of school, your broke and even though school is easier your sick of the routine...

I do not get this whole dedication to work thing people always point out about 12-16months. I know someone who did 3 co-op terms with the same firm, if you like your job and the firm so much just keep going back.
Member
User avatar
Apr 18, 2008
352 posts
3 upvotes
Internship, by far imo.


As someone else said, it allows you to:
1) Work on a longer term project
2) Not have to go through the same old tedious training over and over (e.g., WHMIS, GMP, etc.)
3) Usually higher pay
4) Don't have to move as often
5) Most importantly, it makes you stand out more and better chance of getting permanent position after you graduate.
Member
User avatar
Aug 26, 2006
493 posts
1 upvote
This is the way I see it:

4 month co-op terms: Get a flavour of MANY industries, not a lot of real responsibility though. More grunt-work oriented than internships HOWEVER it should give you a good idea of what you want to do when you graduate.

12-16 month internships: More responsibility on the job, perhaps you will get to see a project finish due to the long length of the term. If you liked your job and your co-workers/boss liked you, then you will likely be able to come back upon graduation. However, if you got a crappy job (do a lot of research!), you're kinda stuck since you didn't get to sample other industries.

My preference is the 4 month co-op term since it will give you a better idea of what you wanna do when you graduate IMO. I come from a 12 - 16 month internship school just FYI.
Member
User avatar
Aug 20, 2006
342 posts
2 upvotes
I think I would prefer 4 month co-ops because of the reduced stress, responsibility level and the opportunity to get a "feel" for the different industries out there. For e.g. I'm in chem eng and all I've experienced is the food industry. I would have loved to get some exposure to pharma, oil & gas, and metals & mining.

However, I'm currently on a 12-month internship. I do see 4 month co-op's come and go without leaving an impression. I think it's great as they just want to get a flavor for the work environment and get to work on some small projects. To make an impact and increase chance of permanent employment, takes at least 8 months though.

Whether you want to use your co-op to diversify experiences or you internship to get locked into a company/industry, the experience can be a powerful tool early in one's career.
Deal Addict
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Jul 9, 2006
1518 posts
58 upvotes
GTA
IMO,

If you know what you want to do 100%, go internship in that direction.

If you don't know and am exploring, go co-op. Best way to gain the widest experience, and especially determine what fields you don't like (its only 4 months if you end up hating it).
Deal Addict
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Aug 28, 2003
1330 posts
4 upvotes
Toronto
My choice would be and is Co-op for the following reasons:
- Broader understanding of different business practices and opportunities to build a variety of skills via working at different businesses (really one of the rare opportunities where it's accepted that you may not stay for more than 4-8 months and without ruining your prospect with future employers)
- Better networking as you'll have worked with more people
- Managing risk because the system puts you into a position where you have an excuse not to return to a bad employer or at least not get stuck with one for 12-16 months
- Growth in pay after each term whereas from students doing 12-16 months I've heard they received no raises (take this with a grain of salt since I only spoke with a couple people)
- Switching from academic term to work and vice versa keeps things exciting and interesting

Of course depending on your goals and personality this may or may not be the right fit.
Jr. Member
May 13, 2009
114 posts
1 upvote
Toronto
Personally, I would do at least one 4-month summer intern/coop term before heading into a 12-16 month internship. I'd explore the scope of my field over my summers and make my internship decision from that. Like the above posters said, I'll have the chance of carrying bigger on-job responsibilities and would most likely see the completion of a project.

The advantage for for 4 month coop terms is that you get the chance of working at many different projects and make connections along the way which is very beneficial.

If a school provided some coop terms with a long internship I'd love that!
Member
User avatar
Aug 20, 2006
342 posts
2 upvotes
There is usually a performance based, pay increase at the 6-month mark for 12-month interns. At my company, you find out about it pretty late. They don't tell you when you start that there is an opportunity for a raise. It's not a huge amount, but it is a recognition-type thing.
Deal Addict
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Jan 4, 2007
2317 posts
147 upvotes
Heres one for you guys...do internships require you start paying back OSAP if you're working for 12-16 months??
Deal Addict
Jun 4, 2006
2069 posts
47 upvotes
jwei wrote:
Jun 14th, 2010 12:14 am
Heres one for you guys...do internships require you start paying back OSAP if you're working for 12-16 months??
no, exact same process as co-op. fill out form. hand in form.
Member
User avatar
Aug 20, 2006
342 posts
2 upvotes
jwei wrote:
Jun 14th, 2010 12:14 am
Heres one for you guys...do internships require you start paying back OSAP if you're working for 12-16 months??
Nope, don't have to start paying back OSAP. Your co-op office should take care of it, they should ensure your still registered as a "full-time" student. I do remember filling out a form at the financial aid office as well.
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