• Learn and earn: Start looking for a co-op position or next summer's internship:

  • Participating in an internship or cooperative education assignment will pay off with two big benefits: good pay and experience that will make you more marketable when you look for your first post-college job.

    Nearly 98 percent of the employers responding to a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (JobWeb's publisher) reported that they pay their interns and nearly 95 percent said they pay their co-op students. Employers reported paying interns at the undergraduate level an average of $15.44 an hour, while they said they pay undergraduate co-op students an average of $15.64 an hour.

    "Typically, employers consider more than one factor when determining the salary for an intern or co-op student, but the biggest factor is the student's year of study," says Camille Luckenbaugh, NACE research director. "At the undergraduate level, salaries tend to be highest for seniors, lowest for freshmen."

    In addition, internships and co-op assignments give you an edge in the job market by providing you with work experience.

    "When employers are looking at job candidates, work experience is one of the things they look for," explains Luckenbaugh. "Employers told us that three out of five of their new college hires in 2004 had internship experience and nearly one-third had participated in a co-op assignment."

    Now is a good time to start thinking about and applying for one of these learn-and-earn positions. Here's where you'll find them:

    Check department listings Check with your academic adviser to see which departments maintain listings of internship and co-op opportunities in their fields of study.

    Visit their career services offices Many offices have internship and co-op listings and may be able to help you locate other relevant resources such as books, employer files and directories, and web sites.

    Attend job fairs Employers often use job fairs to identify students for internships and co-ops, as well as for full-time employment. Carry copies of your resume with you, but also be prepared to enter your resume on some companies' web sites.

    Visit your campus or local library for resources that provide information about internships and co-ops Research organizations you are interested in so you can tailor resumes and cover letters to specific employesr.

    Contact the Chamber of Commerce Once you determine where you would like to work, contact the Chamber of Commerce there to obtain information about local employers.

    Network Talk with friends, family, coworkers, supervisors, instructors, administrators, and professionals in your field of study, and let them know you are searching for an internship or co-op.