Employers plan to hire 8.5% more college interns this year

by Grace
The Interns (film)

Good news for college kids: Companies plan to hire more interns this summer—with pay.

Employers plan to hire 8.5% more interns this year, with the vast majority of gigs slated for the summer months, according to a study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The nonprofit polled 280 member organizations, most of them large firms that recruit on campuses, between November and January.

Altogether, companies plan to hire more than 40,000 interns this year, up from about 36,900 last year, the study found. Nearly all respondents said they plan to pay their interns, though the projected average hourly wage for bachelor’s degree students fell slightly to $16.20, from $16.70 last year.

A sign of more hiring in the future?

The boost in internship hiring could be an early indicator that the job market is improving for college students, especially since many companies offer such programs as a stepping stone to long-term employment, says Andrea Koncz, an employment information manager at NACE.

Or is it simply employers taking advantage of cheap labor to get more work done?

Some labor experts caution against taking such an optimistic view. Companies with tight budgets sometimes cope with a heavy workload by hiring more interns or temporary workers, says Eileen Appelbaum, a senior economist with the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Since these types of workers often don’t show up on the payroll, firms can increase production without incurring permanent expenses, she adds.

“Given the way the labor market is, I wonder if this is not just a form of inexpensive recruiting,” she says.

‘Six in 10 internships lead to jobs’


6 Comments to “Employers plan to hire 8.5% more college interns this year”

  1. If this is a sign of an overall recovery, the timing might just be perfect for my college kid!


  2. One of my cousins just got a job flying for an airline you’ve heard of. He had been working at one of those little airlines, making $18k a year, if you can believe it. He’s now going to be making $60k a year, a very welcome change for a guy with a growing family.

    A year or two ago, another cousin got a job in structural engineering after two years of unemployment.

    A third cousin has been leapfrogging through a series of engineering jobs, getting new ones with amazing ease despite job losses. He’s switched between fields a couple times, and is now doing the South Dakota oil thing.

    These are all 30ish guys.


  3. Those are good anecdotes to hear, Amy. I notice none of them are liberal arts types, so I wonder if there’s hope for the area studies major? 🙂 (My college kid is not majoring in area studies, but in economics!)


  4. My third cousin is amazing. He started with a degree in structural engineering, worked with nukes and now is doing oil stuff. I know that’s very unusual to be able to transition between engineering fields like that, but he somehow manages.

    We were all very worried about my second cousin. His salary is less than was desired, but he’s very lucky to finally have something in his field.

    I don’t think the first cousin I mentioned has a university degree. I think he’s done some college, and then he went to school at a hideously expensive flight school. But it is working out for him. It seems to me that young people who want to be pilots should be especially leery about student loans, because if my cousin had had substantial debt, he would never have been able to afford to pay his dues with that $18k flying job as long as he did. I think that sort of Catch-22 comes up a lot with low-paying dream jobs.

    “I notice none of them are liberal arts types, so I wonder if there’s hope for the area studies major? (My college kid is not majoring in area studies, but in economics!)”

    I think my younger relatives with soft degrees have done pretty well (probably even better) with job security, but the timing of entry into the labor force probably makes a big difference. I’ve got a cousin with a hospitality (!) type major and she has a good job in that field, but she’s been working for the past 10+ years and isn’t looking for a job today. My sister has a business degree (German) and she does very well, but she runs about three different businesses. Nobody gave her a job–she just makes jobs for herself and for other people. Another cousin did a liberal arts degree and then dropped out of a medical program after accruing $60 some thousand in student loans. She’s doing all right now, but there were a couple of really suspenseful years. (By the way, that story has made me very suspicious of the push to send liberal arts kids to medical school. If they liked biology and chemistry enough to be successful in medical school, they would have studied biology and chemistry in college.)

    One of my younger relatives is just about to pay $500k cash for a first home, which is pretty amazing.

    Good for your college kid!


  5. Here’s a parody news story from Britain: “Graduates forced to take jobs that match their skills.”

    “…our higher education system continues to do its job of producing people who can round-up shopping trollies without supervision.”



  6. “Nobody gave her a job–she just makes jobs for herself and for other people.”

    I keep reading that’s a new ’21st century skill”, but it seems people have been doing that for centuries already.

    I love reading details about your family members’ success stories!


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