Jobs and internships

Many science and engineering organizations begin recruiting for spring graduates and summer interns during fall semester, so get started early! September-October and January-February are the busiest times for job openings, on-campus interviews, and recruiting events.

What is an internship?

An internship is a short-term position that provides students with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience working with professionals in a field related to their major. Most science and engineering internships are paid. Internships are available at private corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Most internships happen during the summer. Students generally complete an internship between junior and senior year, though some have an internship as early as the summer after freshman year. See resources below for alternatives to traditional internships. 

What is a co-op?

Co-ops are a structured way to combine your academic knowledge with practical work experience. At the earliest, co-ops begin after you complete your sophomore year. Generally, you will complete two or three semesters of full-time work interspersed with semesters of full-time academic coursework. CSE has a formal co-op program where you will obtain academic credit for your co-op experience. Note that not all CSE majors participate in the formal program. There is also an option to complete a co-op for no credit, but you may have to take a leave of absence from the university. If you are interested in pursuing a co-op, be sure to create an education plan with your academic advisor. For more information, visit the Engineering Co-op Program website.

 student listens to employer talk at the career fair

Steps for obtaining positions

Step 1: Before you begin to look for opportunities, it is important to establish what is important to you, such as what industries, organizations, and types of positions would be the best fit for your interests, strengths, skills, personality, and values.

Step 2: Use a variety of search strategies. Employers that recruit UMN students report that internship programs, their organization’s webpage, career fairs, Handshake (read Tips and Tutorials), and networking are the most effective ways for them to find qualified applicants.

Networking consists of building relationships with professionals, especially in your career field of interest. Connecting with these professionals can help you make yourself known in the industry you want to work in, gather career information, and learn about job opportunities. College is a great place to get started because most professionals enjoy meeting students, and building a network early can help you find internship and job opportunities. The Maroon and Gold Network is the University of Minnestoa’s alumni networking database. Visit the Maroon and Gold Network website.

For networking tips from CSE Career Services Peer Assistants, watch the Concise Advice: Networking Tips video

Step 3: Create a resume and cover letter that are targeted for each position to which you apply. Use the position description to tailor your resume and cover letter to the qualifications. For guidance, view the guides under the “Resume and Cover Letter” heading on CSE’s Career Guides webpage.

Job search resources

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  • Handshake is the University of Minnesota’s job and internship database.
  • LinkedIn is an employment-oriented service to build and engage with a professional network.
  • Indeed is the largest employment-related search engine.
  • Simply Hired is an online employment and recruitment advertising network/job board.
  • Zip Recruiter is an online job board.
  • SciTechsperience connects students in STEM fields to internships in the state of Minnesota.
  • is a search engine/database specific for college-level internships.

Pre-internships, Externships, Projects, and Micro-internships

Pre-internships, externships, projects, and micro-internships involve hands-on experiences, allowing you to work flexibly and often at your own pace, either paid or unpaid. These experiences are short-term, task-focused opportunities with real companies, offering valuable work experience. They provide insights into careers through short-term placements, enhancing resumes and expanding professional networks.

Third-Party Recruiting Agencies

Third-party or staffing agencies can help place candidates in temporary/contract, temporary-to-hire, or permanent positions and have access to positions that may not be found elsewhere. 

Government and Nonprofit

  • USAJOBS can help you find job openings within hundreds of federal agencies and organizations.
  • Idealist lists nonprofit and government positions.


Tips for International Students

Please connect with International Student and Scholar Services to learn about student visa and work authorization requirements (CPT/OPT) BEFORE obtaining a position. For more information and guidance, review the Career resources for international students webpage.

Get the International Student Job and Internship Guide