College & Workforce Readiness

Tight College Internship Market Signals Need for Students to Prepare Earlier

By Caralee J. Adams — May 22, 2014 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The job market is tough for interns this year.

Overall, the number of internships for college students is expected to decrease by 3.4 percent in 2014, according to the most recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. However, employers in the Northeast expect an increase of 10 percent.

While internships are typically thought of as learning experiences, applicants often need specialized skills to land a position, according to a report out this week from Burning Glass Industries. For instance, an engineering intern might be required to know AutoCAD; a design students might need to know JavaScript.

This makes it important for students to build their portfolios before ever applying to an internship.

Students can start in high school by contacting employers to learn about various careers well in advance of applying for an internship, suggests Karen Purcell, owner of PK Engineering, a firm in Reno, Nev. Start with a professional association to get a name of someone who might be willing to provide a job-shadowing experience.

Being in the workplace and talking to professionals can provide early insights.

“It helps you determine if it’s an area that is right for you,” said Purcell, author of Unlocking Your Brilliance: Smart Strategies for Women to Thrive in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

Especially in STEM fields, it can be difficult for students to imagine various careers without some first-hand exposure, said Purcell. Understanding what employers are looking for in applicants can help students as they make course decisions and give them an edge when hoping to secure an internship or job. Finding a mentor can also provide early guidance that can pay off later, she added.

Some schools are experimenting with career exploration programs beginning in kindergarten. In South Carolina, counselors help students sort through career options in the state’s Pathways to Success program. Following the students from grades K-12, they craft an individual plan in 8th grade that includes classes to support their field of interest and search for related internships. (See Is 8th Grade Too Early to Pick a Career? in the National Journal.)

A survey earlier this year found that employers think students should start to focus on their careers in high school to improve their chances of securing internships and jobs in the future.

Other research finds paid interns reap bigger benefits in the job market than unpaid ones. The average hourly wage rate for interns at the bachelor’s degree level ranges from $15 to $18 per hour, according to the NACE survey.

All the effort often pays off. The NACE survey found that employers made full-time offers to 65 percent of their interns.

A version of this news article first appeared in the College Bound blog.

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

College & Workforce Readiness Opinion Can College-Going Be Less Risky Without Being 'Free'?
Rick Hess speaks with Peter Samuelson, president of Ardeo Education Solutions, about Ardeo's approach to make paying for college less risky.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
College & Workforce Readiness Opinion What Will It Take to Get High School Students Back on Track?
Three proven strategies can support high school graduation and postsecondary success—during and after the pandemic.
Robert Balfanz
5 min read
Conceptual illustration of students making choices based on guidance.
Viktoria Kurpas/iStock
College & Workforce Readiness Opinion An Economist Explains How to Make College Pay
Rick Hess speaks with Beth Akers about practical advice regarding how to choose a college, what to study, and how to pay for it.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
College & Workforce Readiness What the Research Says College Enrollment Dip Hits Students of Color the Hardest
The pandemic led to a precipitous decline in enrollment for two-year schools, while four-year colleges and universities held steady.
3 min read
Conceptual image of blocks moving forward, and one moving backward.