The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) conducted a recent survey about college internships. Amongst the 38,000 students that responded, 48% had worked unpaid internships. Pursuing paid internships are yielding higher salaries and job assurance for college grads. Those without paid internships are struggling to compete.
In regards to salary, paid interns received much more than other job applicants. The average starting salary for new grads with paid internship experience is $51,930—opposed to $35,721 with unpaid internships, and $37,087 who had no internship experience at all.
“This is the third year that NACE’s annual student survey has captured internship data for paid and unpaid interns,” says Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director. “In each survey, paid interns exceeded their peers in job offers and starting salaries.”
NACE’s 2013 Student Survey found that 63.1% of paid interns received at least one job offer. Only 37% of unpaid interns got an offer, which doesn’t differentiate much from the 35.2% of students who didn’t have an internship and received at least one job offer.
Glassdoor.com, a jobs and career community website offering an inside look at the salaries earned by employees, created a list of the top 20 highest paying internships, based on responses from at least ten current and former interns from each company. Out of the 20 ranked, four were oil and gas related, three were exploration and production focused, and the fourth, Schlumberger, is a service company.
The number one highest-paying company was ExxonMobil, providing their interns a monthly base pay of US $6,506. ConocoPhillips followed at $5,779 per month; BP was next with $4,839; and Schlumberger, rounded out the list with an average of $4,247.
Other leading industry companies also compensate their interns in similar ranges. According to Glassdoor, Chevron pays its interns $5,729 a month, and Shell’s interns receive a monthly average of $5,215.
According to NACE, the number of unpaid internships across different majors was fairly the same, whereas accounting, engineering, and business majors had high numbers recorded for their paid gigs. Responders to an article in The Atlantic speculate that employers may view paid interns as producers of higher-quality work since they are compensated for their tasks.
The alarming differences in salaries between paid and unpaid interns may cause students to think twice about accepting unpaid work. Despite the high numbers for paid internships being offered to students in high-demand majors, students in other majors may have to strive harder to find internships that will pay.
Below are tips for students looking to land a paid internship:
- Begin searching for internships months in advance of when you plan to start working. This way you can scout out what you’re looking for, and find a paying job before your peers join the hunt.
- Speaking with career services or an instructor at your school could help give you options about the type of internship you’re looking for, and how to connect with employers to get hired.
- Attend on-campus recruiting sessions held by different companies, and network with recruiters looking specifically for students.
- Research specific internships that you would like to get, and express to potential employers how your skill set can assist that company in achieving their goals.