Industry Market Trends

Survey Reveals the Internships Employers Value Most

Feb 14, 2013

Employers anticipate hiring 13 percent more graduates this year than they did in 2012, but some job candidates will have a better chance at getting and keeping a job if they have a paid internship on their resume, according to two surveys.

Surveys conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) revealed that a paid college internship increases a grad's chances of landing a job and enhances the

Credit: Stuart Miles at Credit: Stuart Miles at

probability that they will keep a job. While approximately 60 percent of paid interns received at least one job offer after graduation, only 36 percent of grads without an internship received job offers, according to NACE's 2012 Student Survey, which captured responses from nearly 48,000 college students nationwide.

Paid interns have an advantage in employer offer rates over those who accept unpaid internship positions. In for-profit sectors, the offer rate for interns was 64 percent, versus 38.3 percent for unpaid interns. In the nonprofit sector, offer rates were 42.4 percent for paid interns and 36.8 percent for unpaid interns. In the federal government, paid interns had a 59 percent offer rate, compared to 39.5 percent for unpaid interns.

The gap is tied to the differences in the types of work done. While paid interns spend time on engaging work that employers find valuable, unpaid interns spend more time on "clerical" and "non-essential" work, the NACE found, and also noted that unpaid internships have been the subject of several recent lawsuits.

"It stands to reason that those who performed an internship/externship and subsequently landed a job would be more familiar with the actual responsibilities of the job and better prepared to handle the job," according to Jennifer Lozada, corporate director of career services for Head College.

Even with a paid internship, college graduates who studied certain fields hold a competitive edge. Last year, a different survey by NACE revealed that employers are likely to hire grads with business, computer science, and engineering-related degrees in 2013.