A set of achievements — skills, understandings, and personal attributes — that make graduates more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations, which benefits them, the workforce, the community, and the economy. The capacity of the graduate to function in a job and be able to move between jobs. (Yorke, 2004)


An occupation in which individuals work for monetary compensation. Employment opportunities provide individuals with:


  • Exposure to a variety of potential fields, departments, industries, and sectors in the workforce.

  • Experience, and the opportunity to develop skills and be immersed in a professional environment.

  • Career advancement, through the cultivation of a network of professionals, and the ability to make connections with other individuals in the field. 


A type of learning that incorporates theory and in-class knowledge with practical application, and the opportunity to cultivate valuable skills in a professional setting.

Internships focus on providing beneficial experiences to both the student and the employer (National Association of Colleges and Employers). Internships typically have the following components:

  • There should be an intentional outline of goals or learning objectives that are integrated into the internship position. This differentiates internships from volunteer work or short-term job positions.

  • An evaluation of these objectives upon internship completion is an important element in determining whether or not these needs have been met before.

  • Internships encourages the development of professional skills in the workplace, and allows students to explore various careers.

  • All Pathways Canada associated internships are paid internships.

Field Education

Any form of applied learning that takes place outside the college/university in an uncontrolled work environment. 


Internal Field Education: Learning that provides a service to an organization, but which usually takes place at the college. In a supervised, applied learning environment, the daily learning is worked out ahead of time and managed by teachers.

Co-op Program

A program in which a student completes a term of work for academic credit. There is often a statement outlining the outcomes a student is expected to achieve during the work experience. An evaluation is often completed by the student and the work supervisor, and is tied back to the outcomes the students are expected to achieve. A co-op must meet standards set by the provincial government, which sets out requirements for: 


  • A minimum number of hours that must be worked, often as a percentage of the total program and usually one full semester in length.

  • The co-op term(s) to be paid. Additional standards have been established by organizations such as the Canadian Association of Co-operative Education (CAFCE); and include additional standards that:​​

  • The work be “real” work and not observation.

Summer Employment

A job position that is often between the months of May and August for post-secondary students, or from July to August for high school students, and provides short-term temporary work experience that can expose students to potential fields of interest.





Prepared by Nancy Sherman, Dean (retired), Centre for Construction and Engineering Technologies, George Brown College 

Employer Guide to Structuring a Successful Internship Program. (n.d.) Retrieved from:  Professor Mantz Yorke (2004). “Employability in Higher Education: what it is - what it is not,” Higher Education Academy/ESECT. Retrieved from:

Common Definitions Related to Internships and Student Employment