More than one-half of U.S. internships for class of 2011 were paid: Survey

Professional-level work during internship boosts employer loyalty

More than one-half of the internships undertaken by the college class of 2011 in the United States were paid, according to a new study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

Among the 20,000 graduating seniors taking part in NACE’s 2011 Student Survey, 52.5 per cent reported having taken part in an internship at some point in their college career, and more than one-half of those were paid.

The survey also found that the majority of interns — 62 per cent — were interested in working full-time for their internship employer, regardless of whether they were actually paid as interns.

“The type of work they did as interns had a bigger effect on their interest in working for their intern employer,” said Marilyn Mackes, executive director of NACE. “The more time they spent on professional-level work, the more likely they were to want to work for the employer full-time following graduation.”

Pay, however, does appear to correlate to the student’s ability to get a job offer. More than 61 per cent of students who did a paid internship in the for-profit sector had a job offer at the time of graduation. In comparison, about 38 per cent of students performing an unpaid internship in the for-profit sector had a job offer, and just one-third of students who did not have any type of internship experience had a job offer, found the survey.

“One strong possibility (for the difference) is the type of work the paid intern does compared to the unpaid intern,” said Mackes.

Among survey respondents, paid interns spent more time on professional tasks while unpaid interns were more likely to perform clerical work. As a result, the paid intern “may offer employers more of the type of experience they’re seeking in their new hires,” said Mackes.

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