College students with paid internships more likely to get jobs, higher starting salaries

Posted October 12, 2011 by

Paid internships correlate to job-search success, according to a new study conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

Class of 2011 graduates who took part in a paid internship were more likely to get a job offer, have a job in hand by the time they graduated, and receive a higher starting salary offer than their peers who undertook an unpaid internship or no internship at all, according to results of NACE’s 2011 Student Survey.

The study also found that paid interns in the for-profit sector earned the highest offer rates: More than 61 percent had received a job offer. However, paid interns in the nonprofit and government sectors also outpaced unpaid interns, regardless of sector. In fact, unpaid interns fared “best” in the for-profit sector, with just under 38 percent of unpaid interns getting a job offer. In contrast, the “worst” environment reported by paid interns was with a state/local government employer: Just under 40 percent received a job offer.

Marilyn Mackes of the National Association of Colleges and Employers

Marilyn Mackes

“We also found that paid interns who became full-time employees had higher average starting salary offers than their peers who took part in unpaid internships,” says Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director.

The intern’s duties appear to be the key to the difference in why paid internships translated into better job-search performance.

“Paid interns reported spending more time on ‘professional’ duties and therefore appeared to gain more of the ‘real’ experience that appeals to employers than unpaid interns, who spent more time on clerical activities,” says Mackes.

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