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When it comes to engineering and being competitive for attractive permanent jobs, professional experience is worth its weight in gold. Internships and co-ops are ways for undergraduate students in Paper Science & Engineering and Sustainable Materials & Technology to get work experience in the industry. They offer students an invaluable source of practical, hands-on experience, as well as the opportunity to earn income. The Department of FB encourages all undergraduates to take advantage of these opportunities.

Internships are usually offered during the summer, so they are only about three months in duration. Because no regular course work is missed, internships are easy for students to do.

Co-ops take place during an entire semester, and the student temporarily leaves NC State to pursue this work experience. If the student is able to combine a summer with the semester (i.e. spring + summer or summer+ fall), then the overall experience can be up to 8 months in duration. Some students, however, need to take courses in summer school to make up for being away during the regular semester. Co-ops are set up through the NC State Co-Operative Education Program. Because the student will miss certain scheduled courses, he must work with his adviser to develop an alternate plan of study that minimizes delays and possible course conflicts.

Paper Science & Engineering

The summer internship opportunities for students in Paper Science and Engineering are extensive. Each year, a significant number of PSE students obtain valuable internships with pulp and paper manufacturers, equipment and chemical suppliers, consultants, and other related companies. Even freshmen are able to get great internships in the summer after their first year at NC State.

Many PSE students decide take a semester off from their studies and do a co-op with the same types of companies that offer internships. The student’s faculty adviser works with the student to re-arrange his schedule to accommodate the changes,

Some of the companies offering internships and co-ops are in North Carolina, and some of them are in other states all across the US. Several positions are even available in foreign countries, such as Japan, Finland, and England. Pay for these experiences is quite good, with rates up to $30 per hour. Many companies provide subsidized or free housing as part of their package.

With multiple internships and co-ops, many PSE students graduate with a year or more of professional experience, making them extremely attractive to a wide variety of companies seeking entry-level hires.

Sustainable Materials & Technology

Sustainable Materials & Technology students are required to complete a paid summer internship or a semester co-op with a company in the industry. Additionally, there are many other summer employment opportunities and co-op possibilities available to students beyond the required internship. Many of these are with companies in North Carolina; some are available in other states.

These types of real-world experiences can not only enhance a student’s desirability as a permanent hire, they are invaluable in learning what a specific occupation is really like and in helping students pinpoint their career goals. Serving in internships and co-op positions can help students decide what kind of position in the sustainable materials industry they are interested in pursuing, and just as important, identify positions that they are not interested in.