The Experiential Education program is designed to provide meaningful career-related experiences in the form of job shadowing, informational interviewing, internships, and co-ops. These experiences provide career direction, enrich a student's education, help to build a student's contact network, and enhance a student's marketability upon graduation.
The program involves a cooperative effort between employers and the university, benefiting everyone involved. We've developed relationships with a variety of employers who are interested in hiring USC Aiken students and alumni. There is also a demand for students to be more "employment ready" upon graduation. For this reason and others, our hope is that all students will utilize our services.
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Job shadowing offers you a short-term experience to observe a professional working in a field that interests you. You learn about the day-to-day activities of that particular career field, investigate the work environment, ask questions, and get a first-hand view of what a day-in-the-life can look like for this career. Shadowing is a great job exploration tool, especially if you can't decide what major is right for you, if you have questions about a particular industry, or if you need clarification that you're on the right career path.
Informational Interviewing is similar to job shadowing, offering an alternative for career fields that don't permit shadowing due to strict confidentially laws (e.g.counseling, health care).
Internships are professional work experiences that provide you the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills in a particular career area. Employers will generally hire students with considerable academic experience to assist them in performing daily tasks or to work on special projects. Some internships award you academic credit upon completion and some don't. Internships may or may not be paid.
Types of Internships:
- Academic internships allow you to earn college credits while you work. These are usually unpaid internships, but not always. Academic Internships must be approved by your academic department.
- Non-credit internships allow you to be placed in a professional setting wherein knowledgeable individuals will work alongside you, monitoring and mentoring you as you work and learn. You'll be able to add this valuable work experience to your résumé.
* Internships may or may not be paid.
Co-ops (cooperative education) and internships are essentially the same thing. Co-ops by definition are paid positions. Co-op positions generally have two work plans, alternating and parallel.
Types of Co-ops:
- Alternating co-ops rotate between semesters of full-time work and full-time college attendance. You return to the same cooperative employer each work semester until you've completed that particular co-op assignment.
- Parallel co-ops allow you to attend classes for part of the day then work part-time for part of the day. You return to the same employer for each work semester.