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Why Choose an Extended Internship?

Extended Internships

November 3, 2021

The word “internship” is often used as students navigate through their educational journey. It is a word many students on a college campus are familiar with, but for good reason. An internship is an opportunity for students to gain professional experience and build their resume. Additionally, it provides students a chance to utilize classroom lessons and solve business needs. During my undergraduate, we learned about two different types of internships: a summer and extended internship. First, a summer internship typically is 10 to 12 weeks long and takes place from May to August. Students might prefer a summer internship because it is during a convenient time of the year for the student and does not interfere with their class schedule or graduation date. The other internship, an extended internship or co-op, is usually six months long and spans May to December or January to August. Most extended internships require students to forgo a semester of classes to work full-time. An extended internship is a longer time commitment then a summer internship and may warrant students graduating later than expected. Students might question if working an extra three months for an extended internship is worth taking a whole semester off or pushing graduation.

Why Students Should Choose an Extended Internship

Many students face the dilemma mentioned above. I never had an extended internship during my undergraduate, so I reached out to a few Principal Financial Group interns currently in an extended internship for helpful tips in making the decision. Jackson, a commercial real estate co-op at Principal Financial Group said, “…If I had to go back again and choose between doing a co-op or a traditional three-month internship, I would absolutely choose doing a co-op again. You learn an exponential amount more in a co-op versus the three-month, are able to really settle into your role and develop and grow within the role and have a much better opportunity to understand the industry than a three-month internship … I think the co-ops I’ve done have and will continue to give me an advantage over other candidates my age.” I want to emphasize Jackson’s last point that working an extra three months during an extended internship gives students more work experience and a leg up on others when applying for full-time roles.

Cameron, an accounting co-op at Principal Financial Group, had another factor she considered. She said, “Principal’s reputation was one of the biggest factors for me. I knew it was a large company that had made a name for itself from insurance, but after reading reviews from past interns, I learned that it was so much more than that and decided that it was my best choice for my first internship. In addition to Principal’s reputation, networking opportunities, remote work, pay and the fact that the internship would be in private accounting were also factors that attracted me to Principal.” Cameron took into consideration a lot when deciding to do a co-op at Principal Financial Group. I encourage students to reach out to their networks to hear from former interns about their experience. Other than interning for a company, there might not be a better way to know if it’s the right fit.

Overall, internships have been and will continue to be crucial for students as they strive toward their first full-time role. There are many factors to consider when deciding between a summer and extended internship. For me, my internships during undergraduate were crucial in building my knowledge, skills and experience within my major.

Principal Financial Group offers a robust and comprehensive internship program within the financial service industry, headquartered in Des Moines. 2021 Principal Financial Group interns were asked about their decision-making process when accepting an extended internship or co-op.

Job opportunities and career resources are abundant in Greater Des Moines (DSM). Whether you're looking to find an internship, a job, develop professionally or grow as a student, we have the resources to help you thrive.

Tyler Koehler

Tyler Koehler is an internship program coordinator at Principal Financial Group (PFG) in Greater Des Moines (DSM).