Career Services

Internships & Cooperative Education

 hip photo of product development at an internship
1. How can I find an internship?
Start with the UNI Job Board and attending recruiting fairs, where you can talk to employers about internship opportunities.  Meet with your Career Advisor in Career Services (102 Gilchrist) to help focus your search.  Join student groups or organizations that interact with employers.  Use company web sites and search tools such as  Network with employers you are interested and inquire with friends and family to see if they know of internship opportunities.

2. When should I start looking for an internship?
Start early—be aware that some competitive internship programs begin recruiting in September for summer interns—their goal is to obtain top talent early!  At minimum, make sure you are applying at least one semester prior to when you want to begin your internship.

3. Should I do more than one internship?
Yes—as many as you can!  The more experience you have before you graduate, the better!  You will be more qualified, have more direction, a larger network, a better skill set and stronger resume.

4. What is the difference between ACADEMIC CREDIT and a TRANSCRIPT NOTATION?
Academic credit (XXX 3179) is earning credit hours, typically 1-3, for an internship.  You will pay tuition for the credits, as well as complete an assignment (s) from a faculty member in your academic department.  Your faculty member will also well review an employer evaluation regarding your work performance.  Students register through their academic department, so experiences must match their area of study and they must meet registration requirements established by the department.

Transcript notation (UNIV 31CI) is zero credits (NO tuition), and it simply notes that you did an internship during the semester in which you enroll.  Students must complete a web-based evaluation of their experience and employers complete a work performance evaluation of the student.  Students must have a GPA of 2.5 and work 50 or more hours to qualify.  The experience does not have to match the student’s field of study, but must match their future career goals and be pre-professional in nature.

5. Why should I register my internship?
a ) You need the credit hours to graduate or maintain full-time status
b ) You want the experience documented on a transcript
c ) The student is taking a semester off for a full-time internship
d ) The employer requires it

6. Does a position have to have “internship” in the title to qualify?
No!  Credit can be granted for quality, pre-professional positions that are preparing you for your future career. However, UNI does not allow Independent Contract positions to earn credit. Speak to an advisor in Career Services with questions.

7. Is funding available for unpaid internships?
There are 3 potential funding sources for unpaid internships— IF you are interning with a non-profit organization, or a city, county, state, or federal governmental agency:
a ) Koob Fund for Community Engagement
b ) UNIBusiness Scholarship for Social Engagement 
c ) Community Service Learning (Must qualify for Work Study through Financial Aid)

8. What will my employer have to do if I register?
Employers must sign our agreement as well as complete a work performance evaluation at the end of the semester.

9. I heard my sales position (independent contract) cannot earn credit. Why? 
Given the intent of an internship measured against the implication of and risk associated with 1099 employees work arrangements, independent contract work is primarily a job reserved for individuals with an already developed skill set employed by sites who either lack personnel with that expertise or the time to supervise and mentor appropriately.  In other words, the criteria used to qualify jobs an independent contract work also disqualify for most academic internships (e.g. degree of control, profit/loss, skill level, etc.).

10. I am taking a semester off school for an internship—should I register?
Yes, at minimum for a transcript notation.  Registering your internship will keep you enrolled at UNI providing a registration date and time for when you return.  It will also prevent student loans from going into repayment.  If you have health insurance through UNI, it will also maintain your eligibility.

11. Can internships be paid or unpaid?
An internship can be either paid or unpaid. The current average wage for an intern is between $12-$13 per hour. 

12. What if I need to leave my internship early?
Contact your Career Services Advisor to see if you have met the requirements of your registration and discuss options.

Step 1: Locate and secure a position

Step 2: Complete the Internship Registration

  • Login to the Job Board
  • Select Career Center
  • Click "Experiences"
  • Request an Experience

Once submitted, the form will be streamlined through Career Services, your faculty advisor, department head and employer for internship approval. If you have questions, contact

* International student experiences must relate to the their field of study for CPT authorization. In addition to completing the paperwork with Career Services, international students will need to meet with the Office of International Engagement for final authorization.

Each Department has established requirements to register for cooperative education (internships).  In addition to meeting the guidelines, students will be given a homework assignment by the Faculty Supervisor. 

Transcript Notation 

  • Career Services Approval
  • 50+ work hours
  • 2.5 minimum GPA 
  • Must be pre-professional in nature

80% of all UNI students graduate with experience in their field. This ranges from cooperative education to field experiences. In all these experiences, the core difference between a part-time job and an internship/co-op is the experience aligns with the students' professional goals and has a learning component.  The following are expectations of host organizations:

  • Provide adequate training & instruction
  • Complete an end-of-term evaluation
  • If unpaid, meet federal guidelines
         (View FAQ #7 for Funding Options)
  • Position can not be an independent contract position - also known as a 1099.
         (View FAQ 9 for details)
  • Agree to Co-op Registration [Grad Student]
  • Note that the University of Northern Iowa does not provide liability insurance and cannot sign waivers of liability. 

UNI Career Services can coach employers on building a robust internship program. Questions can be directed to Laura Wilson, Director of Internships.