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  • The Impact of Internships on Outcomes for New College Graduates

    BETHLEHEM, PA—Grade point average (GPA) and the total number of internships a student completed as an undergraduate student are the major predictors of initial career outcomes, according to a new study funded by the NACE Center for Career Development and Talent Acquisition.

    A team at Mount Holyoke College analyzed data on the college’s graduating classes of 2013, 2014, and 2015 to investigate the relationship between participation in different kinds of internships and career outcomes six months after graduation. Its finding are detailed in a free report titled The Impact of Undergraduate Internships on Post-Graduate Outcomes for Liberal Arts.

    As part of its research, the team also examined the relationship between internship participation and student development outcomes—such as academic performance and engagement in career development activities—and whether the introduction of Mount Holyoke College’s universal internship-funding program in 2014 has increased student access to internship opportunities.

    “[Our] findings suggest that participation in multiple internships in college helps students to secure employment or enter graduate school within six months of graduation, and that the introduction of internship funding for every student increases access to internship opportunities,” notes the team, which was composed of Eleanor Townsley, professor of sociology and director of the Nexus Curriculum to Career Program; Liz Lierman, director of the Mount Holyoke Career Development Center (CDC); Jenny Watermill, associate director for internships and student employment in the CDC; and Dyanne Rousseau, CDC program manager.

    In terms of outcomes, the team found that graduates with more internships and graduates with higher GPAs had higher odds of being employed relative to seeking employment six months after graduation. These students also had higher odds of being in graduate school relative to seeking employment at six months.

    Differences between graduates in employment and those in graduate school six months after graduation are more subtle, with several factors—citizenship status, academic major, financial need, and use of the career center—distinguishing the two groups from one another.

    Universal internship funding at Mount Holyoke College through its Lynk internship program has increased access to a first internship for students and, by implication, to two or more internships. The Lynk program guarantees a flat rate stipend for domestic and international internships to every student at least once during her undergraduate career.

    “Our study underscores the importance of increasing student access to internship experiences, as well as the central importance of academic strength, both in its impact on internships and independently, on post-graduate outcomes at six months,” the Mount Holyoke College research team points out. 

    The Impact of Undergraduate Internships on Post-Graduate Outcomes for the Liberal Arts is available as a free download at www.naceweb.org/job-market/internships/the-impact-of-undergraduate-internships-on-post-graduate-outcomes-for-the-liberal-arts/

    About the NACE Center for Career Development and Talent Acquisition: The Impact of Undergraduate Internships on Post-Graduate Outcomes for the Liberal Arts was funded by the NACE Center for Career Development and Talent Acquisition. The NACE Center is a 501(c)(3) charitable, not-for-profit organization. It supports the mission of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), and addresses critical issues around five topics: career readiness, the job market, career development, talent acquisition, and public policy and legal issues.

    About NACE: Since 1956, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has been the leading source of information about the employment of college graduates. For more information, visit www.naceweb.org. NACE maintains a virtual press room for the media at http://www.naceweb.org/about-us/press/.