Internships are no longer ‘the golden key to employment’

by Grace

Linkedin surveyed its members to get a sense of how often internships lead to full-time jobs, and the findings were less than encouraging”.

The conversion rate (defined as interns becoming full-time workers with their employers) was low, according to Linkedin’s career expert Nicole Williams.

“Ten years ago an internship was the golden key to employment whereas in this competitive landscape only the strongest survive with a job offer,” she explained.

Accounting internships had the highest conversion rates, at 31%.  Here are the other top industries:

Management Consulting:  25%
Computer Software:  24%
Retail:  23%
Internet:  22%
Information Technology & Services:  22%

The industries with the lowest conversion rates:


Generally speaking, internships are important in securing employment after graduation.  But unpaid internships seem to offer minimal benefits in that regard, and other factors must be considered in assessing the value of getting work experience during college.  Variations by industry are important, as well as by the types of job duties.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reported that last year the overall conversion rate was 51%.  Considering anecdotal information about the popularity of unpaid internships, this is hard to believe.  NACE’s numbers come from surveying their own members, which I suspect are self-selected to skew toward more positive results.

Related:  “Many young college graduates faced with ‘culture of internships’”


Mark Koba, “These companies hire interns for full-time jobs”, CNBC, March 20, 2014.


4 Comments to “Internships are no longer ‘the golden key to employment’”

  1. I tell my students that they need to be very strategic in choosing internships. If they want to work in software development, they need an internship where they are writing code, not filling out sales reports or typing content into a website. I am always amazed at how many of them waste time on really trivial internships.


  2. However, the statistics here are a bit misleading. This is the number of students who take jobs at the same place where they held interships. In my field, that is not so common, yet the internships are still very important. Many of my stronger students will take an internship writing code for a small company, because it pays. But they aspire to working at more prestigious companies. The internships prove to employers that the student can handle a technical work environment.


  3. “This is the number of students who take jobs at the same place where they held internships.”

    Yes, and good internships help in securing a job with ANY employer. Internships can be very competitive, and many outside of technology and business simply do not pay. Although that is a changing situation, with recent settlements that required some media companies give back-pay to interns who worked there over the last few years.


  4. Here’s a thought–if an employer is unwilling to pay you for your labor, it may be because they don’t value your labor.

    It is not very surprising when an employer that doesn’t value your labor enough to pay you doesn’t want to actually hire you.


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