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CSU, Chico’s Experiential Education program links the university to business, industry, and government by giving students an opportunity to combine classroom study with career related work experience. The program helps students define their educational goals and prepare for their careers by exploring the realities of the working world.

Bill Lerch, Director

Valuable teaching and learning can occur outside the classroom. In recognition, the Office of Experiential Education has formed a partnership with business and government which provides students with the opportunity to gain academically related work experience prior to graduation. These practical learning experiences extend the walls of the university, permitting students to blend theory and practice at an early stage in their professional growth.

The program provides an excellent source of energetic, highly motivated employees and enables employers to evaluate interns under actual working conditions and assess their performance as prospective employees.

Experiential education opportunities are essentially limitless, bound more by the imagination than geography or type of work. Work experience opportunities exist throughout the nation and world in a spectrum of subjects from agriculture to the fine arts. Through the Office of Experiential Education, students have interned with a vast list of agencies and corporations including British Petroleum in London; the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C.; Hewlett-Packard, ChevronTexaco, and Cisco in the San Francisco Bay Area; and Meeks Building Center in Chico. These experiences allow students to explore their career dreams, test their abilities in supportive work environments, gain invaluable insights into various careers, develop skills, and work with equipment not available at the university.

Experiential education positions can be paid or unpaid, full time or part time, and normally coincide with the fall, spring, or summer terms. Students earn academic credit for a university assignment associated with work experience. A maximum of 15 internship units (courses numbered 089, 189, 289, 389) may be applied to a bachelor’s degree at CSU, Chico.

Office of Experiential Education

The university’s cooperative education and internship programs are coordinated by the Office of Experiential Education. The office assists students, employers, and academic departments in developing and improving academically related work experience programs and matching students with employers. The Office of Experiential Education offers the following services:

  • Internship Exploration System (IES): An easy-to-use database with more than 1400 listings in the United States and overseas.
  • Overall coordination of departmental co-op/internship programs.
  • Counseling and placement.
  • Referral to departmental internship programs.
  • Career counseling.
  • Coordination of the Rural California Nursing Preceptorships program.

Internships and Cooperative Education

Internships cover the broadest spectrum of experiential education. Most internships are paid and part time. The university also has active departmental internship programs to assist employers and students. Each departmental internship program has its own requirements and it is advisable to consult the department directly.

The Cooperative Education Program (co-op) is also administered by the Office of Experiential Education. Co-op positions are paid and can be full time or part time. The work periods are typically from January - June and June - December; however, summer-only work sessions may be arranged. The salaries for co-ops range from $1000 to more than $3000 per month and depend upon the student’s major, year in school, and the company. Many co-op students receive permanent job offers from the companies participating in the co-op program.

Approximately 1500 students are placed annually with nearly 450 agencies and companies.

Rural California Nursing Preceptorships

The Rural California Nursing Preceptorship (RCNP) program provides comprehensive opportunities for a variety of clinical experiences. Senior-level nursing students and registered nurses can participate. Short-term preceptorships allow students to evaluate the benefits and career options in rural health, and gain additional clinical experience before graduating. Placements can be made throughout the year for periods of four to eight weeks.

Preceptors include RNs, PHNs, FNPs and MDs. Facilities used for placements include acute care hospitals, community clinics, public health agencies, and home health agencies. Placement sites are located between San Benito County and the Oregon border. Participants may choose to earn credit through their own nursing school, or through Chico State (receiving 2-4 units of credit). RNs may receive 30 BRN approved CEUs through Continuing Education.