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What is an Internship?

  • An excellent way for the student to determine if the industry and the profession is the best career option for her/him to pursue.
  • A way for the student to discover what the career actually entails
  • The way for the student to determine what skills are required to successfully navigate this career choice
  • A way to gain practical work experience to complement theoretical knowledge
  • A way to gain exposure to professionals and build networks in a field
  • An opportunity to combine theory with practical work experience
  • A way to develop professional work habits
  • A way to gain an understanding of corporate cultures and analyze business settings
  • Often the best way to get a foot in the door
  • A way to distinguish them from someone with similar or even slightly better grades
  • A supreme confidence builder
  • Must be supervised allowing for frequent feedback
  • May or may not be compensated
  • Must provide for the professional development of the student, preferably project-based or involving industry-specific learning activities (Clerical, routine, repetitive tasks, or unsupervised volunteer experience do not meet requirements).
  • Must be defined by the organization as an internship with systems in place for identifying goals and providing supervision, feedback, and evaluation.

Why do an Internship?

From your first semester in college, your goal should be to obtain an internship each summer. Why? Because internship programs feed full-time hiring!

What is the purpose of internship programs, according to employers?

Among employers responding to NACE’s 2010 Internship Survey, 83.4 percent say internship programs are designed to help the organization recruit entry-level college hires. Around one-third (31.1 percent) say the programs are there to help students gain experience, and just under 20 percent report offering internships as a way to build relationships with key schools. (Note: Respondents were able to offer multiple answers.

Running counter to recent reports in the national media, most respondents say they pay their interns. On average, 98.6 percent of respondents’ interns are paid. In fact, more than 90 percent of responding employers reported they pay all their interns.

Overall, the average hourly wage for an intern at the bachelor’s degree level is $17. That rate fluctuates, however, depending on the student’s year of study and major, and depending on the employer’s industry.

The survey also found a correlation between doing an internship—either with the full-time employing organization or elsewhere—and staying on the job. At the one-year mark, approximately 86 percent of those who had interned with the organization—and 85 percent of those who had interned elsewhere—were still with the organization, compared to 81 percent who hadn’t served an internship. At the five-year mark, approximately 64 percent of those who had served an internship—either at the employing organization or elsewhere—were still on the job, compared with 57 percent of their colleagues who had not served internships.

NACE conducted its 2010 Internship Survey from January 11 – March 5, 2010. A total of 235 organizations (26.6 percent) responded. The survey report will be available later this spring.


Explore the Right Type of Internship

  • Assess what skills you have to offer a potential employer
  • Determine what fields interest you
  • What do you hope to gain from this internship?
  • What kind of company/organization do you want to work for?
  • Determine what tasks you would like as part of your work