The NMSU Office of Experiential Learning (OEL) designed the Co-op / Internship Program to award a permanent transcript notation to students who successfully enroll and complete an approved co-op/internship experience. The program provides experience-based learning through paid employment in practical, curriculum-related work experiences structured to meet the student’s major, interests, abilities, and career goals. It is a collective effort where the student, employer, and NMSU all participate on an equal basis in an effort to enrich the student’s educational journey. We invite employers to hire NMSU students for their co-op/internship positions!  

Each year, 200+ students from all of NMSU’s academic colleges certify their co-op/experience with the NMSU OEL. 100+ employers from across the United States hire NMSU students, including but not limited to (listed in alphabetical order):

  • Amazon
  • City of Las Cruces
  • Cummins, Inc.
  • Disney
  • El Paso Electric Company
  • Exxon Mobil Corporation
  • Goldman Sachs
  • IBM
  • Jacobs Technology, Inc.
  • Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • NASA
  • New Mexico Gas Company
  • Peraton
  • Rolls-Royce
  • TRAX International, LLC
  • Tyson Foods, Inc.

Benefits to Employers

  • Access Top-caliber Students
    • Ability to train and mentor highly talented NMSU students
    • Students can contribute with a fresh perspective and new ideas to meet your project needs
  • Create a Recruitment Pipeline
    • Increase awareness of your organization on campus to attract future candidates for employment
    • Decrease training and recruitment costs by hiring NMSU Student interns
  • Develop Public Relations
    • Learn and work in tandem with NMSU to address society’s problems
    • Contribute to the community by investing in the future workforce

Employer Info Flyer

If you have any questions about your role as an employer please contact our office (coop@nmsu.edu | 575-646-4115)

Defined by the Cooperative Education and Internship Association (CEIA)...
  • Cooperative education is a structured method of combining classroom-based education with practical work experience. A cooperative education experience, commonly known as a “co-op”, provides academic credit for structured job experience. Co-op experiences are either full-time (40 hours per week) alternating periods (semester, quarter) of work and school or part-time (20 hours per week) combining work and school during the same time period. Co-op experiences are paid, supervised by a professional who has followed the same career path of the student and students complete more than one assignment (2 or more) with progressive levels of responsibility.
  • An internship is an experience involving students working in their expected career field, either during a semester or over the summer. Internships may be paid or unpaid and may or may not carry academic credit. Internships are typically one-time experiences. Internships are typically connected to an academic program with course requirements designed and monitored by faculty. Internships generally have related learning outcomes and academic assignments required.

Role of the NMSU Office of Experiential Learning

Our staff reviews and assesses the quality of each experience based on the job scenario and documentation submitted by the student and employer. If the co-op/internship experience is confirmed by the employer, approved by the NMSU OEL, and completed by the student, the NMSU OEL awards a permanent notation on the student’s official NMSU transcript.

Length of Co-op / Internship Experience (Co-ops/internships run on the same timeline as academic semesters)

  • Fall Experiences (Late August - Early December) 14 – 16 Weeks
  • Spring Experiences (Early January - Late April) 14 – 16 Weeks
  • Summer Experiences (Mid-May - Early August) 10 – 12 Weeks
(Note: Internship employers typically recognize University Holidays, Breaks and Closures, allowing the Student Intern to place academic progress first)

Compensation (Paid vs. Unpaid)

  • Paid - New Mexico State University encourages that all co-op/internship positions are paid. All employers are strongly encouraged to follow state and federal regulations pertaining to labor laws when determining remuneration options.
  • Unpaid - New Mexico State University recognizes the guidelines for qualified unpaid internships. Some unpaid internships may provide students with experience in the academic field that augments what is being taught in the classroom and helps move theory into practice. Though employers decide if an internship will be funded, New Mexico State University determines if an internship qualifies for academic credit/transcript certification. All employers must be aware of how the U.S. Department of Labor guidelines for unpaid internships under the Fair Labor Standards Act may affect your company. To avoid legal action, a for-profit employer may legally “hire” an unpaid intern only when the intern is the “primary beneficiary” of the position and meets the six criteria.
US Department of Labor – Fact Sheet #71 – Internships

Co-op / Internship Type (Full-time vs. Part-time)

  • Part-time Employment (On-campus): Student works a minimum of 15 and a maximum of 20 hours/week during Spring and Fall academic semester. (Students may work a maximum of 40 hours/week during Summer semester, Fall break, Winter, or Spring break.)
  • Part-time Employment (Off-campus): Also known as a parallel plan (school/work) student works 15-29 hours/week.
  • Full-time employment (Off-campus): Also known as an alternating plan, the student works 30-40 hours/week and the student’s co-op/internship experience must satisfy the requirements for the Cooperative Education and Internship Program.

Best Practices:

  • The employer should implement a rigorous selection process (i.e. application, interview, etc.)
  • Employers must adhere to program deadlines to adequately support the student
  • Employers should designate a supervisor who is an expert in his/her field, NOT an HR representative, corporate recruiter, or administrative assistant
  • The employer must provide the student with adequate training and tools to complete the co-op/internship experience
  • The employer must establish and maintain reliable communication with NMSU’s co-op/internship coordinator
  • A co-op/internship experience is NOT FREE LABOR intended to replace the role or duties of a paid employee

NMSU Employer Agreement


The Co-op / Experience Process for Employers

The process below illustrates what employers must do so students can successfully complete a co-op/internship experience.


Connect with NMSU Students via Handshake (Step-by-step instructions)

Advertise your Co-op / Internship position

  • With Handshake, the NMSU OEL can send targeted emails to notify students of your co-op/internship position. Targeted Emails create more interest and drive clear actions from students.
    • Simply e-mail coop@nmsu.edu to request your Targeted Email, make sure you include the name of the co-op/internship you need to advertise
  • Other ways to connect with NMSU Students (link to employer relations events)

Job Postings disclaimer

  • Job postings on Handshake do not necessarily indicate endorsement by the Co-op / Internship Program. Some jobs present risks that students must weigh in their consideration and decide whether the position is right for them.
If you have any questions about your role as an employer in the Co-op / Internship program please contact our office (coop@nmsu.edu | 575-646-4115)

Once you have selected an NMSU student for your co-op/internship position

  • Offer the position. Please realize that students may need time to make a well-informed decision; we recommend that you provide students a minimum of two weeks to give you an answer.
  • Any verbal offer should also be confirmed in writing to the student. The student is required to submit a copy of the written offer to the NMSU OEL in order to certify his/her co-op/internship experience.

Supply the student with the required documentation

  • If the student accepts your co-op/internship, please direct the student to NMSU OEL so he/she can begin submitting the required documentation to certify their experience. Students who fail to complete the co-op/internship experience documentation will NOT be able to certify their experience. Employer will need to supply the following:
  • The job offer letter should be on company letterhead and include:
    • Dates of employment (start date and end date)
      • Experiences that may run concurrently should be noted in the offer letter
    • Compensation
    • Number of hours you are allowed to work each week,
    • Supervisor’s contact information (title, address, phone, and email)
  • The job description should be posted on the company's website and/or Handshake and include:
    • Job location
    • Job qualifications
    • Job requirements
    • Type of co-op/internship (i.e. full-time, part-time)

Approve the Student's Co-op / Internship Experience via Handshake

  • Once the student submits a request an experience form, a job offer letter, and the job description to NMSU OEL, an electronic approval process will be started via Handshake. The employer will then:
    • receive an approval e-mail via Handshake
    • review and confirm the co-op/internship information about the experience
    • review and download the NMSU – employer agreement
    • Approve or Deny the experience
It is the NMSU Co-op / Internship Program’s philosophy to establish a strong and reliable communication framework among the NMSU OEL, the student, and the employer.
If you have any questions about your role as an employer in the co-op/internship program please contact our office (coop@nmsu.edu | 575-646-4115)

Mentor the Student Throughout the Entire Experience

  • Once the student has an approved experience with the NMSU OEL and has been hired by your organization, mentor the student during his/her co-op/internship experience.

The NMSU OEL recommends that the employer balances the student’s career goals with the organization’s needs by offering:

  • A safe working environment
  • Well-prepared training
  • The necessary tools to perform the position responsibilities
  • Adequate mentoring and supervision
  • Fair Conflict resolution
  • A comprehensive evaluation of the student’s experience
If you have any questions about your role as an employer in the co-op/internship program please contact our office (coop@nmsu.edu | 575-646-4115)
How can I list our co-op/internship with NMSU?
  • NMSU utilizes Handshake as a career management platform. NMSU invites employers to create a free account and to connect with NMSU to list co-op/internship opportunities.
  • Each co-op/internship is reviewed by the NMSU OEL staff and must meet NMSU’s expectations (see Co-op/Internship Program Explained section above)
How does NMSU OEL define a paid co-op/internship?
  • A paid co-op/internship is an experiential learning opportunity that offers an hourly wage or salary that matches or exceeds the state minimum wage (currently $11.50 per hour in New Mexico).
How is a paid co-op/internship different from a part-time job?
  • For many employers, a paid co-op internship has many similarities to a paid part-time job in regards to personnel policies (such as tax withholding and workers compensation). Unlike part-time jobs, a paid co-op/internship prioritizes the intern’s education and professional development.
  • All paid and unpaid co-ops/internships must offer the benefits of mentorship, training, skill-building opportunities, and defined learning outcomes.
Are there special requirements for hiring an international student?
  • Yes. All currently enrolled NMSU international students in good standing may accept paid co-op/internship positions that relate to their field of study via the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) visa addendum. International Students MUST complete a Curriculum Practical Training (CPT) Request Form. Questions? Contact International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) [isss@nmsu.edu, 575-646-2834] located in Educational Services Building, Suite 850.
  • An important consideration is that international students may only apply for the required CPT after an employment offer is confirmed. For this reason, it is very helpful to make employment offers as early as possible, 2-3 months prior to the co-op/internship start date.
How do we start a new co-op/internship program?
  • Employers launching a new co-op/internship program should invest the time designing a valuable co-op/internship experience by building a strong framework. The NMSU OEL recommends:
    • Set core learning outcomes as the heart of your co-op internship program
    • Establish well-defined parameters such as employment dates, compensation, and professional supervision
    • Conduct a professional recruiting and hiring process.
    • Commit to the co-op/internship experience by supporting your student and the university through the process
    • Apply best practices when training, mentoring and evaluating the student
    • Provide full-time opportunities if students meet and exceed expectations during the co-op/internship experience