It’s summertime, and that only means one thing. No, not baseball, barbecues, and beaches like you may have been thinking.
Summertime is internship season!
Having an internship is one of the best ways for an ambitious college student to gain valuable experience in the working world, establish a network of professionals, bolster their resume, and, if they are lucky enough, make some money.
Interns have become much more than just the people who go to get coffee in the morning or file that paperwork that has been collecting dust for the past nine months.
Today, interns can be valuable assets and potential employees down the road. A recent study by CNBC found that 2017 interns at top financial institutions make more than 1.5 times the median earnings of full-time employees ages 18 to 24, while also contributing crucial financial analysis. According to Glassdoor, Facebook interns can make up to $8,000 a month!
We here at LendEDU have our own intern that contributes imperative financial models and analysis.
In the spirit of summer internships, LendEDU has commissioned polling data that asked current college students, those who will be interning this summer, a series of questions related to what they think about internships based on their experience and knowledge.
The results provide valuable insight in terms of what college students do at their internships, what they are looking for in an internship, and how they got their internships.
Want an Internship? You Need Connections!
1,497 current college students were asked the following question: “If you have ever had a summer internship, how did you get your interview?”
The leading vote getter was “family connections,” which raked in 43 percent of the vote. Following that choice, “I found it myself on the internet” registered 31 percent of the vote.
“College career centers” was the third most populated answer, bringing in 21 percent. Finally, the least common answer was “found through involvement in extracurricular activity,” which received 5 percent.
It was no surprise “family connections” was the simple majority by a comfortable margin. When it comes to internships, it is all about “who you know” and not “what have you done.” Speaking from experience, I was able to get my first summer internship many summers ago because my father was a business partner with the CEO of the company.
What was surprising was that “I found it myself on the internet” received 10 percent more of the vote than did “college career centers.” Although it is 2017 and the internet has changed the way we look for jobs, I did not expect this option to beat out “college career centers” by such a healthy margin.
Parents pay for their child’s education to not only gain valuable life experience, but to lay the foundation for a career. College career centers should be a much more helpful and effective resource for students seeking an internship considering how much money these institutions receive.
Law-school student Jessie Peng, a summer intern at Malik Law Firm, has had four internships and none came from a college career center. Peng said, “Prior to this internship, I did four internships in different industries. I applied to all of my internships online, except for one, in which I was referred by my friend who worked there.”
Another similar question corroborated the opinion that having connections is the single most important factor when trying to land an internship for the summer.
The following question was asked to 772 current college students: “What do you think is more important for getting an internship?”
The overwhelming majority of college respondents, 91 percent, said that “connections” is the most important factor when trying to get an internship.
Only 9 percent of current college students said that “grades” is more important than connections.
As mentioned earlier, landing a summer internship all boils down to knowing the right people, and not your merits.
More College Students Need More Internships
The next question fielded a more specific group of respondents. 2,405 college seniors were asked the following: “How many internships have you had?”
The simple majority of college seniors, 40.4 percent, answered that they have had “zero internships.”
Meanwhile, 33.8 percent of respondents claimed they have had “2+ internships.” Finally, 25.8 percent of poll participants have had “one internship.”
It was interesting that the two opposite ends of the spectrum were the two most populated responses. 74.2 percent of college seniors either have zero internship experience to put on their resume, or two or more internships to squeeze onto their CV.
All that being said, there are too many seniors that have had zero internship experience. Internships give college students useful skills, connections that could become useful down the line, and content to build their resume. Having no internships will not only hurt your chances of getting a job, but will look bad in their eye of the hiring manager.
Not to mention, having multiple internships will help a college student realize what it is they really want to pursue and what they have no interest in. Alexis Bruun, a student at Syracuse University and intern at KVH Media Group, reiterated this theory. “This (KVH Media Group) is my first internship. I hope that this internship will make it easier for me to obtain another internship next summer, when my interests in different individual aspects of advertising are more specific,” said Bruun.
College Students Want Tech Companies, Value Networking Opportunities
825 current college students were asked to respond to the following question: “Which type of company would you rather intern at?”
The highest percentage of respondents, 50 percent, said that they wanted to intern at a “tech company.”
On the other hand, 31 percent of college students answered “big bank,” while 19 percent said “neither.”
The trends from this poll most certainly represent the changing times that represent 2017, and the 21st century as a whole. Be it startups, giants like Facebook, Tesla, or Apple, or less glamourous I.T. jobs, this generation of college students want to work at tech companies. These are the companies that they see in the news everyday for bringing in huge profits, and these are the companies who offer services that are being used by millennials on a daily basis.
Meanwhile, a respectable amount of college students still want to take the more traditional path and intern at a big bank. However, there were a number of stories in the past couple of years that highlighted companies like Goldman Sachs who restricted interns to working just 17 hours a day following the death of an intern after he pulled a series of all-nighters.
Perhaps, college students are more intrigued by the relaxed environments of tech companies compared to the grueling internship experiences offered by Wall Street firms.
Neel Somani spoke to LendEDU about his internship this summer at the preeminent tech company, Google. “I was looking for an internship where I could gain software engineering experience from talented developers. I also wanted to make valuable connections, and learn about what industry computer science is like. So far, I’ve been working on an analytics project for Google Hangouts, Allo, and Duo. I regularly get to meet full time employees during lunch and after work. I think that the most valuable part has been the perspective that I’ve gained about what it’s like to be a software engineer in industry.”
We know where college students want to work, but what do they value in a summer internship?
722 college respondents were presented with the following question: “Which one seems like a wiser pick for an internship?”
A vast majority of current college students, 93 percent, answered “the internship that would open a lot of doors.”
The remaining 7 percent opted for “the internship with much better pay.”
This was an encouraging, and stealing an adjective from the question, wise, pick from the 91 percent of respondents.
In the end, a summer internship will be only last three to four months. And while nice, the money you earn from a high-paying internship will evaporate by the time fall finals come around. However, interning at a company that will greatly enhance your business network will provide value that could potentially last a lifetime of working.
Sarah O’Hanian, a marketing intern at New Eagle, values the working world experience she is gaining this summer. “I have found that, ultimately, the most valuable part of internships is learning how to apply college education when in the field, as well as how to communicate and operate in office settings. My internships have challenged me to improve the way I design, write, project manage, problem solve, and take or receive criticism,” stated O’Hanian to LendEDU.
So, What Exactly Are Interns Doing With All That Downtime?
Here is a more light-hearted question to round out LendEDU’s Internship Report of 2017.
2,908 current college students were asked to respond to the following question: “What do you do when you are bored at your internship?”
The simple majority of college respondents, 43 percent, “look at random websites.”
Meanwhile, 19 percent of poll participants “watch Netflix,” and 18 percent get their “online shopping” done. Finally, 20 percent of current college students are doing something “other” than the other three choices.
Anyone that has ever held a summer internship knows that there is a lot of time when you are doing nothing but watching the clock. It is the summer so work is lighter than usual, plus employees are hesitant to give interns any work that may be of consequence to the health of the company.
As it turns out, most interns are surfing the internet for current events, Game of Thrones’ theories, viral videos, and memes. Some interns are burning through last week’s paycheck by doing some online shopping. And, a decent contingent of summer interns are binge-watching their favorite Netflix shows.
LendEDU has commissioned the polling data used in this study from polling company Whatsgoodly. Each of the six questions used in this study had polled from January 5, 2017 to June 21, 2017. In total, 1,497 current college students were polled for the first question. For the second question, 772 current college students were polled. For the third question, 2,405 current college students were polled. For the fourth question, 825 current college students were polled. For the fifth question, 722 current college students were polled. Finally, for the sixth question, 2,908 current college students were polled.
According to the National Center of Education Statistics, there are 20.5 million current college students in the United States. We estimate that our samples are representative of that population within a margin of error +-2.53%, +-3.53%, +-2.00, +-3.41, +-3.65, and +-1.82, respectfully. Respondents were asked to answer each of the following questions truthfully: “If you have ever had a summer internship how did you get your interview?” “What do you think is more important for getting an internship?” “How many internships have you had?” “Which type of company would you rather intern at?” “Which one seems like a wiser pick?” and “What do you do when you are bored at an internship?”
See more of LendEDU’s Research