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The concept of work experience, internships or cooperative education is not a 20th-century development, as many believe. The concept of learning by doing goes back to the guild system in Europe. The idea of combining work and education in America was formally initiated in 1906 by Herman Schneider at the University of Cincinnati where it was referred to as cooperative education.

 Professor Schneider joined the University of Cincinnati in 1903 and began immediately to solicit the interest of the faculty and industrial leaders in the merits of cooperative education. Schneider was convinced of the efficacy of this concept after studying case records of Lehigh University graduates, indicating that those who showed marked engineering ability had worked while attending college.

 By 1906, he had convinced a reluctant faculty at the University of Cincinnati and enthusiastic industrial leaders of his plan. He initiated an engineering cooperative program on a weekly basis, whereby half the students were in class for a week while the other half was on the job. The students exchanged positions the next week, continuing this pattern through their study. By 1920, 780 engineering students were working in 135 different firms. By 1919, the cooperative plan was adopted by the College of Business at the University. From its early beginning to today, cooperative education has become an important program in American higher education.

At Minnesota State University, Mankato, the College of Business initiated an internship program in 1970. Positions for students
have been in some of the nation's largest corporations and many
of Minnesota's thriving organizations as well as small, entrepreneurial organizations.

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