Policy

Report: Internships Don't Rate Much Attention

Even as some institutions struggle to justify the value of the education they're delivering to their students, internships, which provide work experience, get short shrift. Most schools don't track whether or not the rates of employment differ for students who serve internships from those who don't.

Nor do they necessarily give college credit for internships. Only 77 percent of internships overall are credit-bearing. Less than two in 10 colleges (19 percent) have a line item in their college or department budgets for internship development and management.

This data comes out of an extensive survey published by Primary Research Group, which questioned 45 private and public institutions about their internship programs. Three-quarters of the responses came from four-year colleges; two-thirds were private schools.

According to "College Student Internship Program Benchmarks," most students who serve internships don't end up working for the same organization after graduation; on average, only about 22 percent do so.

Staffing for internship development is higher for public institutions than private institutions; according to the results, public schools had an average of six people focused on that job; private schools had an average of two people.

Students at private institutions are far less likely to be paid in their internships. While 37 percent of private schools reported that interns are paid, that count was 66 percent in public institutions. As the report's authors suggested, "Public college students are generally less able than their private college peers to work for free."

Although the most common types of internships weren't broken out by fields or professions in the survey, multiple comments from respondents suggested that IT and engineering are popular. As one participant noted, "industry views internships as a talent pipeline."

The 114-page report is available for $119 in print or PDF from the company.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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