20+ Compelling Internship Statistics [2022]: Data, Pay, And Trends

By Elsie Boskamp
Sep. 15, 2022
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Research Summary. In nearly every industry across the nation, internships present an effective pathway to finding employment after graduation. With more and more businesses requiring internship experience, we set out to understand the benefits and trends of internships in the United States. After extensive research, our data analysis team concluded:

  • It’s estimated that 300,000 people intern each year in the United States.

  • 70% of interns are hired at the same company they interned with following their internship.

  • 39.2% of internships in the U.S. are unpaid positions, and 60.8% of internships are paid positions.

  • In the first few post-graduation years, former interns are 15% less likely to be unemployed and earn 6% more than students who did not intern.

  • Paid internships are 52% more likely to result in a full-time job offer than unpaid internships

  • The national average hourly wage for paid interns is $20.76.

  • 31% of former students begin internships after graduating college..

For further analysis, we broke down the data in the following ways:
Paid vs. Unpaid | Post-Internship Salary | Trends and Predictions | Industry Breakdown
paid vs. unpaid internship breakdown

Internship and Job Success Statistics

  • The majority of students who successfully complete an internship receive a full-time job offer after graduation.

    56% of all interns in the United States have accepted job offers from the company they interned for. An additional 14% of all interns in the U.S. are given a part-time job offer after completing their internship.

    80% of interns who are extended job offers at the company where they interned accept them.

  • Students and young professionals with internship experience are 35% more likely to get at least one job offer after graduating than those without internship experience.

    Individuals searching for entry-level work have a slightly better chance of getting hired if they have at least some internship experience. On average, 53.2% of all graduating seniors receive at least one job offer.

    Of the graduates who receive job offers, roughly 57.5% have had at least one internship, while 42.5% have had no internship experience.

  • internship experience effect on job offers post-graduation

  • 70% of all interns are offered a position at the same company they interned for, and only 20% decline that offer.

    Approximately 70% of interns across the nation are given a job offer at the same company they interned with after completing their training period. Of the interns who receive a job offer, a whopping 80% of them accept that offer and become employed by the company they interned with.

    Moreover, employment data shows that, in the United States, 56% of all interns — both paid and unpaid — accept full-time job offers from the company that they interned with. High intern job acceptance rates could be due to the fact that nearly 14% of employers report using signing bonuses to convert interns to full-time employees.

  • Nearly 40% of internships in the United States are unpaid.

    39.2% of U.S. internships are unpaid, with the vast majority of unpaid positions based in the nonprofit, social service, and government sectors. On the flip side, 60.8% of internships across the country are paid, and almost all paid training positions are with private and for-profit companies.

    According to experts, companies often offer paid internships to recruit new talent and retain reliable and motivated full-time employees.

  • Paid internships are 52% more likely to result in a full-time job than unpaid internships.

    Being paid during your internship can make a significant difference in getting job offers and finding full-time employment.

    Employment statistics show that 66.4% of interns that were paid during their internship received a job offer. Meanwhile, just 43.7% of interns that were not paid during their internship were given job offers.

  • Fewer than 20% of U.S. interns are offered participation in an employer-sponsored health insurance plan.

    Roughly 18% of employers offer health insurance to their interns, regardless of if the interns are paid or unpaid.

70% of interns are hired by the same company they interned with

Post-Internship Salary Statistics

  • The median starting salary for a college graduate with internship experience is $47,470.

    Recent graduates with internship experience are better suited to get college-level jobs, which earn a median salary of $47,470 per year. Meanwhile, college graduates with limited experience and little to no internship experience have a higher chance of becoming underemployed and making a median annual salary of $37,330.

  • College graduates with at least some internship experience are 15% less likely to be unemployed than college graduates without internship experience.

    Moreover, entry-level professionals with internship experience earn roughly 6% more than their peers who do not have internship experience.

    In other words, college graduates with internship experience are not only less likely to be unemployed than college graduates without internship experience — they also start out earning more, which affects an individual’s lifetime earning potential significantly.

  • The average hourly pay for interns rose by 6.2% from 2019-2020.

    The average hourly wage for interns in the U.S. was $20.76 in 2020. That hourly pay rate increased by $1.22 since 2019 when hourly wages for interns sat at $19.54.

    While the national average hourly pay rate is increasing for interns across industries, they’re also entering the job market at a time of increased inflation.

  • 70% of all paid and unpaid internship offers were rescinded in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The majority of internships across the nation were canceled in 2020 according to NACE statistics. Given all we’ve learned about the importance of internships, this is a bad blow for the class of 2020.

  • The unemployment rate of college graduates between 20-24 fell by 46.6% from 2020-2021.

    While business shutdowns related to the global coronavirus pandemic negatively affected the job and internship market for your professionals, there is a bit of bright news emerging.

    Opportunities are now improving with the unemployment rate for college graduates aged 20 to 24 totaling 9.4% in July 2021, a significant improvement from the 17.6% unemployment rate recorded in 2020.

Internship Industry Statistics

  • 90% of congressional offices pay their interns.

    The majority of U.S. representatives pay their interns, and do so using government-allocated funds. On average, interns working in the Senate are given a $1,986.75 monthly stipend, and interns working in the House of Representatives are given a $1,612.53 stipend.

    Although most political interns are paid, it should be noted that 76% of paid congressional interns are white and attend private institutions.

  • In the United States, entry-level professionals who intern with large tech companies have the highest compensation rates.

    Tech companies rank at the top of the list when it comes to intern payment. The top three highest paying internships programs are currently at VIDIA, Facebook, and Linkedin. On average, interns at these three large tech firms earn more than $8,000 each month.

  • The legal, congressional, and accounting industries are three of the most common fields that require internships.

    An impressive 89.4% of congressional employees have held at least one internship in the past. Meanwhile, 86% of law clerks and 80% of employees working at one of the Big Four accounting firms—including PwC, Deloitte, KPMG, and EY—have at least some internship experience.

top fields for internships

Internship Statistics FAQ

  1. How common are paid internships?

    Paid internships are actually common in the U.S., with 60.8% being paid, and 39.2% being unpaid. Many think that paid internships are a rarity, but they’re actually more common than unpaid ones nowadays.

    More employers are starting to see the value of cultivating talent from within and hiring those who intern with them. With this in mind, the company stands to benefit a lot by putting their best foot forward and convincing the most talented interns to continue working with them. A living wage goes a long way toward this end.

  2. What percentage of undergraduates participate in internships?

    Roughly 60% of college undergraduates and recent graduates complete an internship. This gives them a better opportunity to find full-time employment after completing their education. The majority of undergraduates participate in at least one internship prior to or post-graduation.

  3. Do interns get a lot of work?

    Yes, interns get a lot of work, but it tends to not be highly-skilled work. Generally speaking, both paid and unpaid interns are expected to complete tasks and contribute to a team, just like a full-time employee would be expected to do.

    While many people think that interns are given a lot of work and busy tasks, most successful interns perform smaller assignments and act as a support role for a specific department of an organization.

    Although every industry requires interns to complete different tasks and responsibilities, most fields expect interns to assist in business operations while also learning about the company and the field and growing as working professionals.

  4. Are unpaid internships legal?

    Yes, unpaid internships are legal, but only if certain criteria are met by the employer. Unpaid internships in the government and nonprofit sectors are completely legal. However, it gets muddy when for-profit companies offer unpaid training positions.

    In such cases, profiting businesses can only offer unpaid internships if they can prove that the internship benefits the intern more than it benefits the company — this is most often done by offering the intern college credit for the successful completion of the internship.

    The topic of unpaid internships is a grey area, but if you’re working for a private company and not receiving any college credit, you should almost certainly be getting paid.

  5. What percentage of interns are offered a job?

    70% of interns are offered a job at the company where they interned. 56% of these job offers are full-time, and 14% are part-time.

    80% of interns accept these job offers.

  6. Do internships actually help you get a job?

    Yes, internships actually help you get a job. Even interns who aren’t extended a job offer with the company they interned at report higher rates of employment post-graduation.

    In total, having internship experience increases a graduate’s chance of receiving at least one job offer by up to 32% in the months following graduation.

  7. Do unpaid internships look bad on a resume?

    No, unpaid internships do not look bad on a resume. In fact, you shouldn’t specify whether or not your internship was paid on your resume at all. As long as it was a legitimate work experience and your former employer can confirm that the job responsibilities listed on your resume are accurate, your prospective employer should be satisfied.

    Additionally, if you’re asked about previous compensation during the interview, don’t feel compelled to tell the interviewer that your internship was unpaid. Instead, focus on the value you provided in your last role and salary data relevant to the industry, role, and location of the job you’re applying for.

Conclusion

No matter how you cut it, internships are a key component of long-term career success. For college students and young professionals, apprenticeships and internships are essential to finding full-time employment, getting hired, and earning a competitive salary and benefits package.

In the United States, it’s estimated that 300,000 people intern each year—and just over 60% of them are paid, contrary to popular belief. While internship availability was severed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the market is bouncing back.

Today, more than half of all interns are hired at the same company they interned with, signaling a direct link between completing an internship and finding full-time employment.

References

  1. Spectrum News 1. “Job Market Uncertain For Future College Graduates.” Accessed on October 17, 2021.

  2. Chegg Internships. “Internships By The Numbers.” Accessed on October 17, 2021.

  3. CNBC. “Paid Internship Wages Are The Highest They’ve Even Been—But There’s A Catch.” Accessed on October 17, 2021.

  4. College Recruiter. “How Internships Impact Employability And Salary.” Accessed on October 17, 2021.

  5. Glassdoor. “25 Highest Paying Internships For 2021.” Accessed on October 17, 2021.

  6. CNBC. “Say Goodbye To Six Figure Starting Salaries—With These Exceptions.” Accessed on October 17, 2021.

  7. PR Newswire. “Pay Our Interns: Pay And Racial Disparities Are Still Rampant In Congressional Internships.” Accessed on October 17, 2021.

  8. The Conversation. “COVID-19 Shows Why It’s Time To Finally End Unpaid College Internships.” Accessed on October 17, 2021.

  9. SSRN. “Door Opener or Waste of Time? The Effects of Student Internships on Labor Market Outcomes.” Accessed on January 11, 2022.

  10. Springer Link. “Stairway to employment? Internships in higher education.” Accessed on January 11, 2022.

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Author

Elsie Boskamp

Elsie is an experienced writer, reporter, and content creator. As a leader in her field, Elsie is best known for her work as a Reporter for The Southampton Press, but she can also be credited with contributions to Long Island Pulse Magazine and Hamptons Online. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Stony Brook University and currently resides in Franklin, Tennessee.

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