My school provides a co-op program which will place students for interviews at companies. I applied to this and did end up getting a job doing technical work.

I've been working for a few months. However, it isn't very clear what I was expected to know for this job having learned in school. For example, my school does not teach JavaScript or jQuery formally in any way but at times it seems my coworkers expect me to already know JavaScript very well, including some very advanced concepts within it.

I understand that they do expect me to learn a lot on the job but I'm not sure if they hired me with the expectation of me having this significant technical knowledge.

As a result, my question is:

  • What general expectations do employers have of student co-op/interns in terms of technical knowledge from school?
  • 2
    I edited this question to make it more generic and not focus on the specific skills. I think this is a great question and one which is useful for managers AND interns/co-ops.
    – enderland
    Feb 14, 2014 at 17:37

2 Answers 2


In my experience, interns (or co-op students, and to a lesser degree new grads) are expected to know 2 things:

  1. That they don't know much. The worst thing for you to do is to think that you know how things work - especially business. Colleges can be good at teaching theory, but even the most pragmatic college will not teach you how that particular company does things. Companies expect new entries to the workforce to be a bit humble and focus on learning.
  2. How to use Google. Okay, maybe not Google itself, but technical hires need to be able to search for answers on their own. You're certainly going to have to ask a bunch of questions; that is to be expected. The expectation is that you can answer the super basic ones (where can I find jQuery's documentation?) yourself.

Beyond that? Expactions are super low. In my experience, companies just hope you don't have a bunch of bad habits from college.


I read the comments and I believe there are some answers that could help with co-op students and fresh-outs/early career types with many workplaces.

As a co-op student, yes, the primary purpose of the position should be to learn. You should have a great opportunity to seek out mentors and discuss with them any questions you have.

You should be able to ask your company (or the individual(s) you report to): "What is expected of me here?" and similar questions: "What should I already know?" "What are you expecting me to learn while I'm here?"

But there's no reason that you can't do some learning on your own... if you know JavaScript is a big important part of the job, then start learning it. :) You could get books from the library, find plenty of tutorials online, etc.

If the purpose of this co-op is to possibly land a job with the same company/group when you graduate, this kind of initiative is generally looked at very favorably.

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