According to a recent study from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, about 63% of 2013 college graduates and 60% of students in 2012 who participated in paid internships, received at least one job offer after their stint ended. The study notes 37% of unpaid interns earned job offers.
Salary-wise, paid interns fared significantly better that other entry-level job applicants. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the median starting salary for new grads with paid internship experience is $51,930. That’s way beyond what collegians who had unpaid internships earned – about $35,000. “These results are consistent with what we saw with the Class of 2011,” says Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director. “Students with a paid internship have a decided advantage in the job market over those who did an unpaid internship or didn’t do an internship at all.”
NACE says that paid internships usually have college students and graduates working in environments where their skills are put to beneficial use by firms that really need the help. There’s no fetching coffee for optimal internships – it’s real work companies want done. “Paid interns spend much of their time engaged in ‘real’ work; employers prize that kind of hands-on experience. Conversely, unpaid interns spend more time on clerical tasks and less on the type of duties that employers value,” adds Mackes.
What makes a successful internship for a college finance major?
Doing the Work You Were Trained to Do
A great internship depends on what field you enter, such as investment banking versus accounting. But by and large, being busy using skills you’ve learned and developed in the classroom define the best internship experiences. The NACE study reports that paid interns spend 42% of their workplace hours on professional duties (analysis and project management) and only 25% on non-essential work like filing data or ordering lunch for full-time staffers. So if you’re spending almost half your time doing challenging, rewarding work, your finance internship is on the right track.
How Many Hours?
College interns working in banks, brokerages and other financial services firms should aim for between 200 and 400 hours during their internship. Why? Because that’s what hiring firms look for in terms of on-the-job interning experience.