Internship Definitions and Information

What is an internship?

An internship is a professional experience in an industry and discipline that is related to your interests or area of study. It can be part or all of the semester, taking place in the fall, spring or summer. Internships can be for academic credit, or non-academic, also known as an independent internship. Internships can be paid or unpaid, dependent on the employer.

What is a co-op?

A co-op is very similar to an internship, but is almost always paid, full-time and usually you do not take classes for the 3-12 month duration of the co-op. The co-op typically occurs during the academic year, September – June. If you have questions about whether your experience is considered a co-op or internship, please contact us at or (978) 837- 5480.

Why should I get an internship?

An internship, co-op or other experiential learning experiences are critical when it comes to being competitive in the job market. You are able to gain applicable industry knowledge and skills while building your professional network in your intended career path. 74% of Merrimack College students participate in an internship, co-op, assistantship, clinical or field experience or practicum during their time (Class of 2017 First Destination Survey). It is very much part of the normal here at Merrimack, so make sure you don’t miss out on making your career a priority.

Are internships paid?

There are a mix of paid and unpaid internships, depending on the industry. Some unpaid internships offer additional financial benefits such as parking, housing/ relocation, mileage reimbursements, etc. You are also able to receive college credit for your internship, either in the form of a required class in your program or as an independent internship, OBR1000. 

Can I get an internship as a first year student?

Absolutely! We encourage our Merrimack Warriors to begin looking for internships as early as the summer after your first-year. In order to be best prepared, we recommend to make an appointment with your career advisor in your first-year to update your resume and LinkedIn profile.

When should I apply for an internship?

Recruiting timelines for internships depend on the industry. Typically engineering, information technology, accounting and finance internships and full-time positions recruit in early fall. Nationally competitive internship programs frequently have fall deadlines as well. Local companies, non-profits, and other industries typically recruit in the early spring or year round. Be sure to check Handshake frequently for opportunities. 

What is “registering my internship”?

Registering your internship means to record your experiential learning experience, whether that be an internship, co-op, assistantship, practicum, or field experience, in the “Experiences” tab of your Handshake account. It takes about 5 minutes of your time and is valuable information for the College to have. The reason we ask you to register your internship is two-fold: the value of your degree will increase as it increases the value of Merrimack College in the market, as well as offering the opportunity for other Merrimack Warriors to learn from your experience and potentially experience it as well. 

Where do I find internship, co-op and employment opportunities?

The first place to begin your initial search for internship, co-op and employment opportunities is Handshake, Merrimack College’s online job platform. This is the best place to start your search since the employers connected on Handshake are specifically looking to hire Merrimack College students. It is also beneficial to meet with you career advisor, as he/she can help to find opportunities specific to your interests as well as career and professional goals. 

Can I take more than 16 credits per semester?

Yes! According to Merrimack College academic requirements and policies outlined in the Course Catalog, any full-time student may take up to 19 credits in any semester. Additionally, sophomores, juniors and seniors whose preceding semester GPA is at least 3.0 may take 20 credits in a given semester. Please review the academic requirements and policies for additional information on registering for an overload and maximum credit limits.