Obtaining an academic degree is just one aspect of career development. In fact, the latest internship statistics show that pursuing practical knowledge before employment gives job seekers a competitive edge on the labor market.
Most employers aren’t interested in grades or test results. They want to see skills, a good work ethic, and eagerness to learn.
Internships offer a realistic approach to career exploration and employee experience. They’re a great way to get out of one’s comfort zone and into the world and to soften the blow upon entering the workforce for the first time.
What is an Internship?
Activity-based learning provides practical knowledge beyond education. And what is an internship if not learning through practice?
Its primary purpose is to enable the skills necessary for any working environment. Whether it’s developing leadership skills early on or getting to know the people in the industry, internships are a step forward in any career.
But as much as they are helpful for students and job seekers, they are also essential for employers. Following the great resignation, employers recognize the potential of interns. They can be a cushion for the labor shortage problem and become next-generation talents.
In a way, recruiting new people with a fresh perspective and unique skills is a long-term company investment.
General Internship Statistics
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, internship numbers plummeted. Many employers canceled their training programs. Those who didn’t cancel shifted towards online attendance.
The good news is that despite all the changes, the value of the professional learning experience remains relevant well into 2022.
- Before COVID-19, internship rates were between 50% and 60%. However, recent research indicates a much lower number of 21.5%. (NSCI Report, 2021)
- Despite the expansion of remote work, in-person positions are still relevant. 47.8% of respondents attended in-person internships, compared to 44.9% who attended online. (NSCI Report, 2021)
- The average length of an internship is four and a half months. (NSCI Report, 2021)
- Internships have a high satisfaction rate, with 36.4% of respondents reporting being extremely satisfied. (NSCI Report, 2021)
- 67.3% of non-interns said they wanted to pursue one but couldn’t because of different obstacles. (NSCI Report, 2021)
- For 59.4%, not knowing how to find an internship was the main reason for not taking one. (NSCI Report, 2021)
- The average intern recruitment process lasts for eight and a half months. (NACE, 2021)
- Open applications are the most common way to source potential interns. (NACE, 2021)
- 60% spent most of their time doing analytical and project management tasks. (NACE, 2021)
- 67.9% of students attend internships to gain experience in a specific career they’d like to pursue. 24.8% take internships to explore different career options. (NSCI Report, 2021)
- During the pandemic, 64% of companies that canceled internships did not offer compensation. (CompareCamp, 2020)
- Companies expect to hire more interns by 22.6% in the following academic year. This is the highest increase in the last ten years. (NACE, 2022)
- Non-profit agencies connecting graduates with employers say they plan to hire 31.6% more interns than the previous year. (NACE, 2022)
- Typically, organizations begin their intern recruitment process approximately eight months in advance. (NACE, 2022)
- Most employers source students through open applications. (NACE, 2022)
- Even though 58.6% of the student population is female, about 43% of interns were women. (NACE, 2022)
- More than half of organizations plan to increase their college hires, and 41% plan to maintain it. (NACE, 2022)
- 66.1% of employers plan to hire graduates with a finance degree in the next year. 65% will employ accounting graduates, and 61.3% will look for candidates with a business administration or marketing degree. (NACE, 2022)
- 38% of employers run ongoing recruitment campaigns for interns throughout the year. (ISE, 2022)
- Between 21.5% to 50% of university students intern while in school. (CCWT, 2022)
Paid vs. Unpaid Internships
Internships can be equally demanding and time-consuming as a permanent job.
It’s only natural to wonder if companies pay for their internships. Rewarding hard work is a significant motivator. So, some form of compensation can go a long way for interns.
1. Are Internships Paid?
Before applying, the main question on any student’s mind is: are internships paid?
The answer, however, depends on several factors. That includes the industry, the specific company, the position candidates are applying for, and even the country’s legal system.
The good news is the majority of interns trade their time for some form of compensation. If it’s not a salary, companies give stipends, academic credit, or cover living expenses. An intern also gets the value of working alongside professionals and building a career network.
2. How Common are Paid Internships?
A recent survey shows that six out of ten U.S. interns get some form of compensation. Still, the remaining 40% that don’t get paid make up quite the number.
Legally, companies in the U.S. must pay at least the minimum wage unless they pass the primary beneficiary test under the Fair Labor Standards Act. If the test answers imply the intern passes the criteria for an employee, they are entitled to payment under FLSA and vice versa.
3. What is the Highest-paying Internship?
Tech, finance, and consulting are among the highest paying industries. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. After a challenging few years that resulted in a shortage of opportunities, statistics show that the market’s slowly recovering.
- The highest paying internship is with Roblox, with an average monthly income of $9,667. (Glassdoor, 2022)
- 71% of full-time interns received a salary, compared to just 26% of those who interned part-time. (NBER, 2020)
- 43% didn’t receive compensation for their work. (CCWT, 2021)
- The job success rate for those with paid internships is 66.4%, compared to 43.7% for unpaid ones. (NACE, 2019)
- Other high-paying internships include leading tech companies like Amazon, Meta, Microsoft, Apple, and Google. (Glassdoor, 2022)
- Employers are more likely to respond to candidates applying for unpaid internships. (NBER, 2020)
- 62.4% of respondents were satisfied with their compensation. (CCWT, 2020)
- Only 14% of employers offer a signing bonus. (NACE, 2021)
- On average, a signing bonus is shy of $2,500. (CompareCamp, 2020)
- Between 500.000 and a million Americans work for no compensation. (CompareCamp, 2020)
- 26% of employers offer 401ks, while less than 18% offer medical insurance. (CompareCamp, 2020)
- Company culture is essential to the new generation workforce, as 88% prioritize meaning over money. (Tallo, 2021)
- The percentage of unpaid internships is between 30.8% to 58.1%. (CCWT, 2022)
- Among women, 54.3% took an unpaid internship, and 45.7% received compensation. On the other hand, 75.9% of men were compensated compared to 24.1% who didn’t get paid. (CCWT, 2022)
- First-generation students were more likely to take unpaid internships (52%) than non-first-generation students (39%). (CCWT, 2022)
Internship Industry Statistics
High tech pays the best.
The farming, fishing, and forestry industry have some of the lowest demands for internships. The highest demand is in business and financial operations, arts, design, media, and sales.
Check out more of the latest internship industry stats.
- Nine out of ten of the highest paying internships for 2022 are in the tech industry. (Glassdoor, 2022)
- Engineering internships pay an average salary of $61,380. (Glassdoor, 2022)
- Internships in STEM-related fields, social science, and health are more difficult to find than in other fields. (NSCI Report, 2021)
- More than half of interns in architecture and engineering, sales, and construction and extraction get paid. (NBER, 2020)
- Employees with high internship rates are law clerks (86%), audit associates (85%), reporters (82%), and analysts (77%). (CompareCamp, 2020)
- One-third of all insurance agents, real estate agents, and system administrators interned before getting a permanent job. (CompareCamp, 2020)
- Almost nine out of ten employees in Congress attend an internship. (CompareCamp, 2020)
- More than 60% of interns in the U.S. House of Representatives don’t get a salary. (CompareCamp, 2020)
Internships & Job Success Statistics
In saturated job markets, internships give candidates an advantage. Employers appreciate a rich resume and candidates who already possess some of the necessary skills.
Staffing firms can further ease the process by connecting prospective candidates with their preferred employers. And although extra work in the field can’t guarantee a job, it certainly helps.
What are the Chances of Getting Hired after an Internship?
Proactive job seekers with some experience under their belt have a much better chance of getting hired. Internship statistics show that most college graduates who interned get at least one job offer after completion.
- Seven of ten employers offered their on-site interns a full-time job. (NACE, 2021)
- 80.5% of employers offered a full-time position after a virtual internship. (NACE, 2021)
- Even 85% of job seekers won’t mention canceled internships on their resume, citing the lack of skills and knowledge as the main reason. (CompareCamp, 2020)
- Five-year retention rates of in-house interns can be as high as 43.9%. (NACE, 2021)
- The five-year retention rate for employees who interned in another company is 37.3%. (NACE, 2021)
- Students who interned received 16% more job offers than those who didn’t. (CompareCamp, 2020)
- The retention rates for interns after one year range between 73% and 75% for internal experiences and around 50% for external internships. (NACE, 2022)
- Half, or 51.8% of interns, become full-time employees after graduation. (NACE, 2022)
Internships & Salary Expectations Statistics
Hands-on work experience can help students and graduates gain confidence before entering the labor market. Consequently, an internship makes them more assertive about their expertise and salary expectations.
- On average, a U.S. intern earns $20.76 per hour. (NACE, 2021)
- College graduates who interned have up to 12% higher salaries than those who didn’t. (CompareCamp, 2020)
- Paid interns have a higher salary expectation ranging from $50,000 to $55,000 per year. (NACE, 2019)
- The job’s average salary expectation for unpaid interns and students without internship experience is $40,000 to $45,000 per year. (NACE, 2019)
- Computer sciences graduates are the highest-paid group of majors, with an average salary of $75,900. (NACE, 2022)
- The second highest-paid group of majors is engineering graduate students, with an average salary of $73,922. (NACE, 2022)
- The average hourly pay for bachelor interns is 20.82$. (NACE, 2022)
Internships Case Studies
Case studies give an even more detailed overview of the market and discuss the most recent issues, including the changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are some of the key findings:
- There was a decline in placements after the pandemic. (Emerald, 2021)
- Online vs. in-person internship rates were approximately 50/50. (WCER, 2021)
- During the pandemic, the demand for internships exceeded the supply. (WCER, 2021)
- Online internships exclude low-income and working students since they are more often unpaid. People from upper and middle-income backgrounds predominantly filled these positions. (WCER, 2021)
- Online attendees were less likely to develop soft skills like networking, public speaking, teamwork, and collaborative skills. (Emerald, 2021)
- Graduates with firm experience get 12.6% more interview invitations from employers. (ScienceDirect, 2021)
- The positive effect of internships is most notable in humanities and social sciences. Students with internship experience received 26.3% more job interview requests. (ScienceDirect, 2021)
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the labor market, affecting internships in the process. Canceled opportunities, dissatisfaction, and a high percentage of unpaid labor, to name a few. However, according to some of the latest trends, things are taking a turn for the better.
- Internship recruitment levels will be going up, with significant growth in several industries: retail, FMCG and tourism (97%), charity and public sector (75%), and digital and IT (74%). (ISE, 2021)
- Predictions show a shift towards a hybrid model of work and a decline in virtual attendance. (ISE, 2021)
- Diverse and accepting environments are something both interns and employers are striving for. (JInternship, 2022)
- Career advancements remain the main reason to choose an internship. (Firsthand, 2022)
- Longer-lasting internships (between six and twelve weeks) are on the rise. (Firsthand, 2022)
- Almost half of the employers plan to offer hybrid internships, while 25.8% will stick to in-person experiences. Only 2.2% are going to provide entirely virtual work. (NACE, 2022)
- In 2022, only 9% of employers used personality tests to screen candidates, compared to about 33% in 2014. (ISE, 2022)
- 68% use a competency-based recruitment perspective to select candidates, while 56% utilize a strengths-based approach. (ISE, 2022)
Internship statistics prove that employers are leaning toward candidates with more practical experience. Regardless of the type of internship, the compensation, or duration, learning how to thrive in a professional setting is invaluable. It’s safe to say that this experiential learning journey gives people an advantage in the workplace and in life.
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