Now, data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) adds important information to the ongoing conversation about college internships.
Internships provide college students with valuable real-world work experience, and can lead to increased job-offer rates and higher starting salaries, NACE research finds.
The research, NACE’s Class of 2017 Student Survey, was conducted from February 15 to April 30, 2017, and includes responses from nearly 22,000 students across all degree and year levels at colleges and universities nationwide.
This annual survey of college students finds job-offer rates and starting salary offers are highly dependent on whether an internship was paid or unpaid, and the sector in which a student served the internship.
A paid internship with a company in the private sector is, by far, the most beneficial in promoting job-search success because it is the most deliberately designed and the most consistently funded for converting interns into full-time, entry-level hires.
In the Class of 2017 Student Survey, the job-offer rate for “paid-private” students (62.2 percent) was 20.4 percent higher than for “unpaid” students and 18.9 percent higher than for students lacking experience. In addition, the median starting salary offer for “paid-private” students was 44.8 percent higher than for “unpaid” students and 27.1 percent higher than for students lacking experience.
By contrast, having had an unpaid position – regardless whether it is in the private, nonprofit or public sector – gives students no immediate advantage over those students without any internship experience. In fact, Class of 2017 students whose most recent (or only) experience was unpaid had virtually the same job-offer rate as students lacking experience (41.8 percent versus 43.3 percent, respectively).
In releasing this information, NACE notes that it is important to keep in mind that, since its inception, the NACE Student Survey has only polled students during the spring semester prior to graduation and, therefore, cannot show how internship/co-op experience – paid or unpaid, and in any sector – affects job search success in the months after graduation.