Getting Started

The University Career Center defines “experiential education” as any experience that connects classroom learning with external organizations to provide students with work experience. Experiential education includes internships, clinical rotations, student teaching, cooperative education, and required observation hours.                 

Currently, UNC Charlotte does not have a centralized process or office that manages experiential education. The University Career Center reviews and accepts/denies any opportunities (both paid and unpaid) posted in Hire-A-Niner, our full-service system connecting students and employers. Opportunities requesting a connection to academic credit are referred to relevant academic programs for further review.                                                                                       

Our Employer Operations Team is available to assist you with:

  • developing a sustainable internship program for your organization/consulting on interns
  • internhip descriptions and projects to adhere to federal and state guidelines
  • marketing opportunities to UNC Charlotte students and connections with academic departments for credit requests

What is an Internship?

UNC Charlotte broadly defines an internship as a fixed, short-term work experience in a professional setting that is an extension of classroom learning. Internships last a minimum of 5 weeks and 80 hours in a given semester. UNC Charlotte interns can work up to 40 hours a week during summer and up to 20 hours per week in the fall and spring semesters. Internships may be obtained through an established internship program or something that the student and the employer create together to fit the student’s skills and interests and the employer’s specific needs. Internships may be paid or unpaid.     

A combination of goal-setting, training, supervision, and evaluation should be defined and agreed upon by all parties: the student, the employer, and a university faculty/staff administrator, especially if academic credit is involved.

What is a Co-op?

A co-op is typically a full-time, paid position within a company or organization that spans over the course of multiple semesters. There will usually be more training and higher levels of responsibility than with an internship. UNC Charlotte’s co-op requires students and employers to submit formal evaluations, and in the semester in which the student returns to campus he/she must do a presentation of their experience to faculty advisors.

What is the difference?

Both internship and cooperative education program experiences allow students to apply what they have learned in the classroom to a professional setting.   The difference between the two experiences is mainly the number, pattern, and work hours to which students and employers commit.

Co-ops require students commit to multiple periods of work. The typical program plan is for students to alternate terms of full-time classroom study with terms of full-time, discipline-related employment. Program participation involves multiple work terms. Thus, a co-op participant will work three or four work terms, gaining a year or more of career-related work experience before graduation. Virtually all co-op positions are paid and the vast majority involve some form of academic credit.

In contrast, internships, whether for academic credit or not, typically involve a time commitment of only one semester.

Why hire an intern or co-op?

Employers benefit from offering internships and co-ops in the following ways:

  • Recruit, work with, and screen potential permanent employees
  • Hire former interns/co-op students who are trained and loyal to the organization, resulting in reduced training time
  • Fulfill additional staffing needs for temporary positions or projects
  • Find highly motivated, energetic, and enthusiastic staff members who can bring new ideas and fresh perspectives to old problems
  • Heighten the organization's visibility on campus and enhance the organization's image in the community

What Makes a Quality Internship?

The University Career Center adheres to the National Association of College and Employers (NACE) and U.S. Bureau of Labor – Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) guidelines to determine the quality of an internship.


Eligibility & How to Post

Eligibility to post internships or co-op positions is governed by our Talent and Recruitment Guide. Interested employers should also see our directions on how to post a position


Who to contact for more information

If you are interested in developing a strategic relationship with UNC Charlotte for recruitment and branding, we encourage you to connect with our Employer Development Team:

  • Corporate: Sue Brien,, 704-687-8090
  • Government/Nonprofit Organizations: Karen Arrington,, 704-687-0791
  • Internships/Co-ops: Jim Novak,, 704-687-0787
  • Other inquiries: Employer Development Team,, 704-687-0795

Frequently Asked Questions