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