This page provides resources for geography students on co-ops and internships, graduate schools and career planning. The geography program requires students take either a Co-op/Internship (Geography 300), or write a senior thesis (Geography 488). Generally, students who plan to go directly into the workforce should follow the co-op/internship option, while students interested in graduate school are encouraged to write a thesis.
Co-ops and internships are intended to give students a real-world work experience in a area related to geography. Geography students have completed co-ops and internships with a wide variety of government agencies and private companies. Students should plan their internships for late in the junior year or in the senior year. A student should start looking for an internship at least a year prior to the intended start date, because some government agencies require an application that far in advance.
During the internship, students are off campus approximately 15 hours per week. Students often find that internships are most successful when remaining classes are scheduled for MWF or TTh. However, the timing of internships may be very flexible. See the list of past and current co-ops and internships in which MU geography students have gained valuable experience. If you would like to talk to a fellow student about their experience, contact your advisor, or any geography professor, and we will try to arrange it.
What is the difference between a co-op and an internship? Not much. The two terms are used interchangeably in the geography program.
Graduate school is an investment in your future. When you go to graduate school you defer going directly into the job market in order to gain additional skills and education. This additional education opens up a wider range of career options. Just like a bachelor's degree makes you more employable than does a high school degree, and at a higher salary, a masters or doctoral degree increases your future earning power. But graduate school is much more than money: you are joining a fraternity of geographers nationally and worldwide. The people you meet in graduate school, including your advisor, thesis committee members, and fellow graduate students remain important colleagues and contacts for the rest of your life.
Career planning starts when you start your college career. The courses you choose should, ideally, be focused toward your career goal. Only you can identify that goal, though your advisor can help. A significant number of geography graduates get jobs after graduation directly from of the contacts they made during their co-op/internship. Don't treat the co-op/internship as just another course you must take, it is an important means of meeting people in your field. Careful selection of a co-op/internship could make the difference between having a job offer at graduation, and not having an offer.
The University's Career Services Office is a good resource for career planning.