Internship Statistics

by Gail Flores

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Landing your dream job after graduation doesn’t seem so far-fetched with the right internship under your belt. Internships offer a glimpse of the working world and can bridge between college and your career.

What are the top internship statistics in the United States? And how do internships affect job prospects, earnings, and more? In this article, we’ll do a deep dive into the internship landscape in the US and cover the following:

  • General statistics on internships
  • Paid internships vs. unpaid internships
  • Cooperative education programs
  • Gender distribution of interns
  • Ethnic distribution of interns
  • Internships and employment 
  • Highest paying internships
  • Challenges surrounding internships
  • Future trends in internships
  • Frequently asked questions

Let’s get started!

Top internship statistics

  • 41% of college students have specifically had an internship while pursuing their bachelor’s degree. 
  • Among graduating seniors alone, 62% took part in an internship at some point in their college career. 
  • 50% to 60% of eligible interns convert to full-time employees.
  • 59% of interns are paid and interns earn a median starting salary of $67,500, compared to $45,000 for unpaid interns.
  • 75.5% of interns are still with the organization after the first year on the job, compared to 51.5% of non-intern employees.
  • The internship participation rate is lower among first-generation college students, standing at 27%.
  • 40% of the students involved in co-op programs received job offers from their employers, and 30.4% successfully transitioned into actual employment.
  • Among men who took part in internships, 76.4% were paid compared to 51.5% of women.
  • 52% of employers plan to increase intern hiring in the future, and 64.8% of employers expect to provide their interns with a hybrid experience.
  • Students who have not had an internship cite difficulty obtaining an internship (30%) as a primary reason.

General statistics on internships

1. Research indicates that internship experiences increase skills, expand networks, enhance social capital, and offer direct pathways to jobs. (National Association of Colleges and Employers [NACE]).

2. 78.6% of students participate in experiential learning opportunities throughout college. This includes internships, cooperative education programs, and externships. (NACE).

3. 41% of college students have specifically had an internship while pursuing their bachelor’s degree. (Gallup)

4. Among graduating seniors alone, 62% took part in an internship at some point in their college career. (NACE)

5. Public college students have a lower-than-average internship participation rate of 36%. (Gallup).

Co-operative education programs

6. Cooperative education programs, commonly known as co-ops, allow students to alternate between full-time classroom study and full-time employment relevant to their field.

7. 40% of the students involved in co-op programs received job offers from their employers. (NACE).

8. 30.4% of students who received job offers successfully transitioned into actual employment. (NACE)

9. Nearly 90% of co-op employers plan to hire about the same number of students. (NACE).

10. Co-ops can include paid full-time jobs that typically last three to 12 months. (US News and World Report).

Paid vs. unpaid internships

11. Paid internships are those where the intern receives compensation for their work, while unpaid internships do not offer financial compensation.

Paid internship

12. According to research by NACE, students who undergo paid internships garner higher starting salaries and receive more job offers.

13. 59% of internships in 2023 were paid. However, the percentage varies by industry and location.

14. Among Pell Grant recipients, 53.5% had paid internships.

15. Paid interns average 1.4 job offers.

16. Paid interns earn a median starting salary of $67,500. (NACE).

Unpaid internships

17. Instead of financial compensation, unpaid interns typically avail college credits as well as work experience in exchange for their labor. (Indeed).

18. Unpaid interns earn a median starting salary of $45,000. (NACE).

19. Among non-Pell Grant recipients, 61% had paid internships.

20. Unpaid interns average 0.94 job offers. (NACE).

21. Students with no internship experience receive an average of 0.77 job offers.

22. 35% of colleges and universities reported offering a stipend program for low- and unpaid internships, but only 2.1% fulfill so. (NACE)

23. Such programs require the student to apply for competitive and limited funding.

Gender distribution of interns

Female

24. 58.4% of the student population is female. (NACE).

25. 39.1% of interns are female.

26. The overall participation rate of female students in internships is 61.8%.

27. Among women who participated in internships, 51.5% were paid (NACE).

Male

28. 64.8% of male graduating seniors participated in an internship. (NACE).

29. Among men who took part in internships, 76.4% were paid. (NACE).

Ethnic distribution of interns

30. NACE data indicates that Black, Hispanic, and Native American students have lower participation rates in paid internships. 

Asian

31. 54.9% of Asian graduating seniors in 2023 had an internship.

32. Of all the Asian graduating seniors who had an internship, 48% were paid. (US News and World Report).

Black

33. 62.7% of Black graduating seniors in 2023 had an internship.

34. Of all the Black graduating seniors who had an internship, 20% were paid. (US News and World Report).

Hispanic

35. Hispanic students have a lower internship participation rate than their peers.

36. 55.4% of Hispanic graduating seniors in 2023 had an internship.

37. Of all the Hispanic graduating seniors who had an internship, 24% were paid. (US News and World Report).

White

38. 64.1% of White graduating seniors in 2023 had an internship.

39. While they only make up 71% of the sample population in an NACE study, 74% of paid interns are White. (NACE).

Internships and socioeconomic background

40. Among first-generation college students whose parents have not completed a degree, the internship participation rate is lower at 27%. (Gallup).

41. According to an analysis of data from United Nations interns, having highly educated parents leads to a 30% greater chance of taking an unpaid internship. (T and F Online).

42. Individuals from developing countries are 75% more likely to take unpaid internships. (T and F Online).

43. 56.6% of seniors in college who are Pell Grant recipients have had an internship. (NACE).

44. First-generation students account for 25% of students who have never had an internship. (NACE).

45. First-generation students account for only 19% of paid interns. (NACE).

Internships and employment 

46. According to the NACE Job Outlook report, employers view internship experience as the deciding factor when evaluating two otherwise equivalent candidates.

47. Applicants with internship experience have, on average, a 12.6% higher probability of being invited to a job interview. (Science Direct).

48. 68.3% of interns receive a job offer. (NACE)

49. 50% to 60% of eligible interns convert to full-time employees. (NACE).

50. 75.5% of interns are still with the organization after the first year on the job.

51.51.5% of non-intern employees stay in the organization after their first year.

52.73.3% of employers recruit for interns. (NACE).

53. The 2022-2023 academic year represents a 9.1% increase in intern recruitment over the previous year.

54. According to a recent NACE poll, 80% of employers indicated that internships provided the best return on investment (ROI) as a recruiting strategy.

55. NACE research suggests that internships have proven to be more effective than career fairs, on-campus visits, on-campus panels, or other activities.

Internships and Job competitiveness

56. Nearly half (49%) of Gen Z job and internship seekers are submitting more than 50 applications during their search. (Forbes).

57. Companies note more competition in internship applications. Data from ServiceNow indicates a 50% increase in internship applications.

58. Citadel saw a 65% increase in internship applications with a less than 1% acceptance rate. (Forbes).

59. Internship applications are up 163% in the semiconductor industry. (Forbes).

60. Tech job openings for college students and new graduates are up 36%. (Forbes).

Highest paying internships

61. Tech companies dominate the list of organizations that offer the highest-paying internships. (Glassdoor).

62. Consultancy firms and financial institutions also follow tech companies’ lead in offering lucrative internships. (Glassdoor).

63. The highest-paying internship is in Stripe, the Irish-American multinational financial services and software company. (Glassdoor). 

64. According to Glassdoor and Yahoo Finance, here are the top 25 highest-paying internships in 2023:

CompanyNature of BusinessAverage monthly internship salary
Stripe Tech$9,064
Roblox Tech$9,017
NVIDIA Tech$8,280
Coinbase Tech$8,206
Meta Tech$8,160
Capital One Finance$8,050
Credit Suisse Finance$7,947
Bain & Company Consulting$7,873
Amazon Tech$7,809
EY-Parthenon Consulting$7,651
TikTok Tech$7,619
Adobe Tech$7,568
Snap Tech$7,520
HubSpot Tech$7,477
Splunk Tech$7,375
LinkedIn Tech$7,360
X (formerly Twitter)Tech$7,290
BlackRock  Finance$7,270
J.P. Morgan Finance$7,188
McKinsey & Company Consulting$7,170
Uber Tech$7,090
Citi  Finance$7,025
ServiceNow Tech$6,989
Rivian Automotive$6,988
MicrosoftTech$6,934
Source: Yahoo Finance, Glassdoor

Challenges surrounding internships

65. Although internship postings remain above pre-pandemic levels, the job market for summer stints is cooling and internship listings have decreased by 14.7%. (Forbes).

66. According to a recent Gallup survey, students who have not had an internship cite difficulty obtaining an internship (30%) as a primary reason.

67. Respondents to the survey also cite the following top reasons for not acquiring an internship:

  • Lack of interest in internships on the part of the student (25%)
  • Inability to find an internship that aligns with the interest of the student (23%)
  • Inability to afford an internship due to the need of a secure and better-paying job (20%)

68. 57% of job seekers say they are not confident they will find an internship or job that meets their standards. (Ripplematch).

Future trends on internships

69. 52% of employers plan to increase intern hiring in the future. (NACE).

70. Approximately 13% of employers plan to cut back on intern hiring.

71. More than 33% of employers expect to hire the same number of interns

72. Employers are driven primarily by their organizational needs when planning to hire interns. (NACE).

73. According to NACE, 28.5% of employers indicate the state of the market and economy as key factors in their intern hiring plans.

74. 12% also cite the potential for inflation as a contributing factor to the availability of their internship programs.

75. When choosing among otherwise qualified candidates, NACE employers indicate that GPA as a differentiator between candidates has continued to lose ground.

76. Employers cited communication, teamwork, and critical thinking abilities as the three most important competencies for interns and co-ops. (NACE).

Hybrid internships

77. According to NACE, 64.8% expect to provide their interns with a hybrid experience with a portion of the time spent working in person and the rest in a virtual environment. 

78. While employers relied heavily on virtual forms of recruiting during the pandemic, NACE data indicates that they favor in-person recruiting when given the choice.

Other Statistics Articles

Frequently asked questions

What percentage of college students participate in internships?

Around 78.6% of students participate in experiential learning opportunities such as internships, cooperative education programs, and externships. Among graduating seniors alone, 62% took part in an internship at some point in their college career. 

What are the highest-paying internships?

Leading tech companies like Stripe, Roblox, and NVIDIA offer the highest paying internships, with monthly salaries exceeding $8,000. Finance and consulting firms also offer lucrative internship opportunities.

Are most internships paid?

While around 59% of internships nationwide are paid, the percentage varies by industry and location. 

Sources

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