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98 Internship Statistics: 2020/2021 Data, Trends & Predictions

by Arthur Zuckerman

More and more students seize internship opportunities, and for good reasons. Studies show that having an internship experience leads to full-time job prospects and higher pay. As such, companies build structured and often lucrative internship programs. These also double as a talent pool for a firm’s future hiring activities.

Yet, there is also a dark side to internships. In movies, interns often make coffee and do other menial tasks. Sadly, this caricature does exist in real life. They also face thorny legal issues like unpaid work and sexual harassment. For the Class of 2020, in particular, COVID-related hiring freezes impacted internship programs. Below are the top internship statistics that you should know about for 2020. internship statistics

1. Internships and the Chances of Getting Hired

An internship lets students apply classroom learning in a professional setting. It introduces them to the world of work and provides an opportunity to develop their careers. And although this might be an additional load to the students, most would be happy to know that there are productivity tools and websites that enable students to pay for research paper to make things easier for them. In addition, they can grow their technical know-how and soft skills, which are both crucial to landing a job. Thus, an internship paves the way for a full-time position later.

  • 70% of companies offer interns a full-time job.
  • 80% of students accept such offers.
  • As a result, 56% of interns get a full-time job from internships. 
  • 43% of those who graduate from college are underemployed in their first jobs. 
  • $47,470/year – the median salary of recent college graduates who work full time. 
  • $37,330 – the median salary of underemployed graduates.
  • Employers identify internship experience as a differentiator when choosing between two equally qualified applicants. Completing an internship within the hiring organization had a 4.6 influence rating on an employers’ hiring decisions. On the other hand, internship experience within the industry had a 4.4 influence rating on employers’ hiring decisions.
  • Fifty-three percent of the Class of 2019 seniors who applied for a full-time job got at least one job offer. Out of this percentage, 57.5% of students who received a job offer completed an internship. In contrast, 43.7% of those who got a job offer did not complete an internship.
  • Completing internships increases job offers by 16%. Students who accomplished at least one internship received an average of 1.17 job offers. In contrast, students who did not complete an internship received only 0.98 jobs on average.

Source: NACE 2019 Internship & Co-op Survey Report

2. Retention and Pay for Intern Hires

Intern hires with internal or external experience tend to stay longer in companies than those without internship experience. An internal internship means being an intern for the hiring organization. On the other hand, an external internship means being an intern for another organization. Students who did an internship have higher salary expectations than those who did not go through one. Moreover, interns report having higher salaries than their peers who did go through an internship.

  • <84% of companies offer unpaid interns planned social activities. 
  • 59% of companies help interns with housing and/or travel costs. 
  • 26% of companies offer interns 401ks. 
  • >18% of companies offer interns medical insurance
  • Only 5% of companies offer tuition reimbursement to interns. 
  • After one year, the retention rate for hires with internal internship experience is 71.4%. For those with external internship experience, the retention rate is 59%. In contrast, hires without internship or co-op experience have a retention rate of 42.4%.
  • After the five-year mark, hires with internal internship experience dropped to 43.9%. For those with external internship experience, it is at 37.3%. 
  • Graduates who were interns or co-op students said that, on average, their salaries are nine to12% higher than those without internship or co-op experience.
  • On average, graduates with internship experience earn more. They have annual salaries that are $2,082 higher than graduates without internship experience.
  • Paid interns said they expect to earn at most $50,000 more than those who were unpaid interns or have no internship experience.

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3. Rising Intern Wages

Paid internships are becoming more common nowadays. Under a paid program, interns not only enjoy monthly wages but also other benefits like travel and housing reimbursements. Intern wages are the highest in the tech industry. For example, with Facebook interns earning nearly double what the average American makes.

  • $19.05 – the mean hourly salary of paid interns who have bachelor’s degrees.
  • In 2019, interns made an average hourly wage of $19.05. On the other hand, co-op students earn $18.69 hourly on average.
  • Forty-four percent of the top-paying internships in the US are in tech companies.
  • Facebook offers the highest-paying internships. Interns have a median monthly pay of $8,000 in this social media company. In second place is Amazon, where interns earn $7,725 monthly. In third place is Salesforce, where interns take home $7,667 a month.
  • If Facebook interns worked for an entire year, they would earn $96,000. This is almost double the median pay of $52,807 per year for a typical job.
  • Employers pay interns an average lump sum of $2,892 for housing costs every semester.
  • Forty-four percent of employers reimburse interns and co-op students for round-trip travel expenses. In contrast, 36.7% of employers say that interns and co-op students shoulder these expenses.
  • On average, employers pay $978 in reimbursement for travel expenses to interns and co-op students.
  • Employers offered interns an average of $2,580 in signing bonuses in 2019. On the other hand, co-ops were offered $3,546 in signing bonuses.

Source: Business Insider, 2019

4. Unpaid Internships: A Grim Reality

Though paid internships are becoming more popular, unpaid internships are still a reality. Students usually take on these opportunities to gain industry experience. However, without any wages to shoulder the cost of living, an unpaid internship ends up being an opportunity cost.

An interesting case is Glatt vs. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc. In this class-action lawsuit, unpaid interns who worked on the movie Black Swan demanded minimum wage and overtime pay. The district court ruled in favor of the interns. However, the decision was overturned on appeal. Though the parties eventually chose to settle, it has led movie studios and agencies to move from unpaid to paid internships.

  • 66.4% of those who graduated in 2019 who underwent paid internship got job offers. 
  • 43.7% of those who graduated in 2019 who underwent unpaid internship got job offers. 
  • 60.8% of interns were paid in 2019. 
  • Unpaid interns are most common in social services.
  • An estimated 500,000 to one million Americans work as unpaid interns every year.
  • Around 43% of internships are unpaid.
  • An internship costs $6,000 on average in major cities in the US.
  • The opportunity cost for an unpaid internship is $12,986. This figure factors in minimum wage rates and the cost of living.
  • Paid internships are 34% more likely to lead to at least one job offer after graduation versus unpaid internships. Among 2019 graduates, 66% of them who went through a paid internship got a job offer. Only 43.7% of graduates with unpaid internships received job offers.
  • In the US House of Representatives, 61% of legislators do not pay their interns.
  • Only 9% of legislators in the US House of Representatives pay their interns.

5. Interns and Sexual Harassment

Another reality that interns face is sexual harassment. This is especially true for women, who are more likely to report cases of sexual harassment than men. Unpaid female interns are especially vulnerable because they are not considered as employees under federal law. Consequently, they are not afforded protection against sexual harassment. However, with the #MeToo movement gaining traction, some states have passed laws to address this issue. Interestingly, one of the campaign’s spokespersons is Monica Lewinsky, a former White House intern who figured in a scandal with former US President Bill Clinton.

  • An estimated 750,000 women work as interns every year.
  • Around 615,000 women who start working may see sexual harassment as they begin their careers.
  • Over 400,000 women will experience sexual harassment themselves.
  • Eighty-two percent of former interns said that they know about colleagues who experienced sexual harassment.
  • Only 18% of former interns said that they had complete knowledge of anti-sexual harassment policies and procedures during their internship.
  • Working women under age 35 are 12% more likely to say that they have been sexually harassed compared to women aged 35 to 44.
  • Alleged sexual harassment between civil servants and interns accounted for 6% of cases reported in the federal government in 2018.

Source: NASA Interrogatory Responses, 2018

6. Internships in Corporate America

Tech companies take the top spots when it comes to intern compensation. However, companies from various industries also recognize the value that interns bring. As such, they have paid internship programs with mentorship opportunities, fun teambuilding activities, and a host of other attractive benefits. Also, some companies tie their internship programs with their hiring plans. As a result, an internship often leads to a full-time, paid position after graduation. In some cases, interns go on to take executive leadership roles in the company.

  • 89.4% of employees in Congress have interned previously. 
  • <80% of employees in the Big Four accounting firms (PwC, Deloitte, KPMG, and EY) have had experience in internships. 
  • Tech companies are big fans of hiring workers with internship experience, including Facebook (80.2%), Google (78.3%), and IBM (70.1%).  
  • More than 90% of interns at PwC are offered full-time jobs. 
  • In 2019, SAP brought in more than 1,000 interns from six countries and 18 cities from around the world.
  • Accounting firm Ernst & Young held an Intern Leadership Conference for 3,400 interns from various parts of the globe in 2019.
  • Bank of America welcomed 1,500 interns for the summer of 2019. There were 47% female and 57% people of color in this batch of interns.
  • More than 90% of internships at The TJX Companies, Inc. can possibly lead to full-time roles after graduation.
  • At PricewaterhouseCoopers, 90% of interns get a full-time job offer.
  • Over 80% of interns who worked at Liberty Mutual Insurance are offered full-time jobs in a given year.
  • Eighty percent of high school student interns at Lockheed Martin who were college seniors in 2018, got full-time job offers.
  • Eighty percent of interns who worked at home Depot in 2018 got a full-time job offer.
  • During summer, Citi hires interns in the same number of full-time jobs that they are required to fill next year.
  • At insurance firm Gallagher, 39 former interns now have executive-level jobs.
  • At General Electric, 60% of participants in the GE Leadership Program were former interns for the company.

7. Internships at a Time of a Pandemic

Salary statistics for 2020 indicate that COVID-19 has caused workers to suffer pay cuts and job losses. Similarly, interns are not spared. Those with internships slated for the summer of 2020 find that employers will be canceling them without pay. While most students feel disappointed, they also sympathize with employers. Those who are lucky enough to have an internship will be doing so remotely.

  • 64% of companies that canceled internships did not offer compensation. 
  • 85% of students do not intend to include canceled internships in their resumes. 
  • 70% of students who had their internships canceled due to COVID-19 expressed disappointment but understood the situation. 
  • 25% of students who had their internships canceled due to COVID-19 expressed disappointment. 
  • 67% of students who engaged in virtual internships prefer to check-in daily with their managers. 
  • 51% of students who engaged in virtual internships expressed relief that their internships were not canceled. 
  • 22% of students who engaged in virtual internships expressed worry that the virtual internship experience will not be as good. 
  • 12% of students who engaged in virtual internships worry that they can’t prove that they deserve a full-time role.  
  • 9% of students who engaged in virtual internships say they were hoping to meet new people during internships. 
  • 4% expressed relief not having to travel for internship amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 1% of students who engaged in virtual internships say virtual internship could be strange. 
  • 40% of students who undergo virtual internships want 5-10 minute check0ins with their hiring managers. 
  • 20% of college interns want 5-10 minute check-ins. 
  • 7% of college interns want 30-60 minutes check-ins. 
  • 30% want weekly 30-60 minutes check-ins. 
  • 30% of College interns prefer frequent video conferencing when speaking wih their managers. 
  • 42% want the same every now and then. 
  • 22% say it doesn’t matter. 
  • 6% prefer chat over video conferencing. 
  • 35% of students think virtual programming for the whole intern class should be conducted multiple times throughout the program’s duration. 
  • 41% say it should be weekly.
  • 20% want it 2 to 3 times a week while 3% want it done daily. 
  • 30% of junior and senior college students had their internships canceled.
  • 83% of employers are moving their internship programs online.
  • 84% of college students are willing to participate in a remote internship.
  • 41% of employers will be cutting down on the length of their internship programs.
  • Only 7% of schools will give financial aid to students if employers revoke their internship.

Student Sentiments on Canceled Internships (2020)

Source: Yello, Virtual Internship Statistics and Trends (2020)

Created by

8. Corporate Roles That Require Internship

  • 86% of law clerks have undergone internships. 
  • 3 in 4 entry-level hires in positions such as (audit associate (85%), reporter (82%), and analyst (77%) have interned. 
  • 1 in three insurance agents, systems administrators, and real estate agents have had experience in internships. 
  • The offer rate for interns is 70.4% with a 79.6% acceptance rate. Meanwhile, the conversion rate is 56.1%.  
  • The offer rate for co-ops is while the acceptance rate is 79.3%. The conversion rate, on the other hand, is 39.9%. 
  • 71.4% – the one-year retention rate for employed interns with internal internship experience. 
  • 59.0% – the one-year retention rate for employed interns with external internship experience. 
  • $0.32 to $19.05 – The average hourly salary for interns. 
  • 59.4% of employers that offer relocation assistance offer them to interns. 
  • 28.7% of employers that offer relocation assistance offer them to co-ops. 
  • $2,580- The average signing bonus for interns in 2019 while for co-ops, its $3,546. 

Sealing the Deal on Internships

Study after study has shown how internships can be beneficial to students after college. Firstly, they boost their chances of landing a job. Secondly, they help them earn more than those without internship experience. The opportunity to learn and earn at the same time, thus makes paid internships attractive. This is especially true in the tech industry, where monthly wages are significantly higher than national average wages.

However, unpaid internships pose a barrier to entry-level jobs. Students who are especially affected are those who cannot afford to shoulder the costs of unpaid internships. Female interns are also vulnerable to sexual harassment, the effects of which can haunt their personal and professional lives in the long term. Moreover, the recent COVID-19 pandemic halted internship opportunities for most students. With experts predicting the worst recession since the Great Depression for the global economy, the future will prove to be challenging for the current crop of interns.


  1. Some college internships pay twice what regular workers earn
  2. NACE Job Outlook for the Class of 2020
  3. Internship Experience the Deciding Factor for Otherwise Equal Candidates
  4. How Internships Impact Employability and Salary
  5. Converting Interns, Co-Ops into Full-time Hires on the Rise
  6. NACE 2019 Internship & Co-op Survey Report Executive Summary
  7. How Important are Internships and Co-Ops?
  8. The Impact of Unpaid Internships on Career Success of Liberal Arts Graduates
  9. Intern Status: Job-Search Timing, Pay Expectations Differ
  10. The 25 highest-paying internships in the US
  11. Facebook pays its interns nearly double what the typical American makes
  12. ‘Black Swan’ Interns Lawsuit Overturned By Appeals Court
  13. Fox Settles ‘Black Swan’ Interns Lawsuit After Five Years
  14. How Unpaid Internships Reinforce the Racial Wealth Gap
  15. This is how the intern economy is shaping the future of work
  16. Experience Doesn’t Pay the Bills: Why Paid Internships are a Must in Congress
  17. Here’s what an unpaid internship will cost you
  18. Quick Poll: Employers Maintaining Plans for College Hiring, Holding Internships
  19. Coronavirus brings cloud of uncertainty over summer internships
  20. Virtual Internship Statistics and Trends: A 2020 COVID-19 Impact Report
  21. How COVID-19 Is Leading The US Into A New Type Of Recession, And What It Means For Our Future
  22. Top 100 Internship Programs 2019
  23. 2018 Top 100 Internship Programs
  24. 13 Depressing Facts About Internships In America
  25. Women Disproportionately Report Sexual Harassment in Male-Dominated Industries
  26. Judge: no protection against workplace sexual harassment for interns
  27. Monica Lewinsky is finally having her moment
  28. Internship by the Numbers
  29. Remote Internship Statistics: A COVID-19 Impact Report

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