By Jacquelyn Smith,
Landing a job in this tough economy is no easy feat—especially for college students and recent grads. They often spend weeks scouring online job boards, polishing cover letters and blasting out résumés to no avail.
But what they really need to do is get an internship. It turns out that may be the easiest way to secure a full-time gig, as 69% of companies with 100 or more employees offered full-time jobs to their interns in 2012, according to a new survey.
The Internships.com survey, conducted between Dec. 1 and Dec. 4, 2012, polled more than 7,300 students and recent graduates, as well as over 300 human resources and recruitment professionals. The results show that internships truly have become the “new interview” in the job search process for students and employers alike.
“First and foremost, these results tell us that at a time when 54% of recent graduates are unemployed or underemployed, the best chance you have as a student not to be part of that statistic is to do an internship,” says Stuart Lander, chief marketing office at Internships.com. “You have a 7 in 10 chance of being hired by the company you interned with.”
Not only can job-seeking students and college graduates land full-time jobs through internships—but they also get a chance to test-drive a career before committing. “Meanwhile, employers get the opportunity to find the talent they need to help grow their business without relying on just a short interview,” Lander says. “Entry level employees are the future of a company and so in many ways the most important recruiting decisions an employer can make.”
If you missed the internship boat this year, don’t fret: Next year should be even better.
Fifty-three percent of the surveyed employers said they expect to hire more interns in 2013 than they did in 2012. In addition, 36% more companies offered internships in 2012 versus 2011, and that number is expect to continue to rise in 2013, Lander says.
Other interesting survey findings: Thirty-three percent of employers hire virtual interns – a 20% increase from 2011 to 2012, while 71% of students are open to the idea of completing a virtual internship.
“The key reason [we have seen large growth in virtual internships] is the flexibility they give to students, particularly during school time,” Lander says. “Students understand the importance of internships more than ever before and virtual internships give them the opportunity to gain valuable experience outside of their short vacation time, when competition for positions is at its highest.”
They survey also found that 66% of employers believe interview performance and relevant work experience are the most important factors in their hiring decisions—far more significant than strong academic performance.
“The most important factor employers look at when deciding who to hire is interview performance because they want to make sure that the student will be a good fit for their organization,” Lander says.
Experience is also important but that doesn’t necessarily mean they need to have previous internship or work experience, he says. “The employer will look at what the student has been learning at school, relevant projects, course work and extracurricular activities. In a highly competitive job environment employers want to see that a candidate has the hunger to be successful more than purely in an academic setting.