Paid Interns/Co-ops See Greater Offer Rates and Salary Offers Than Their Unpaid Classmates

March 23, 2016 | By NACE Staff

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TAGS: graduate outcomes, nace insights, offer rate, salaries, surveys,

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Students who took paid internships or co-ops were more likely to receive an offer of full-time employment and a higher salary offer from their employers than were students who took unpaid internships or co-ops, according to results of NACE’s Class of 2015 Student Survey.

Paid internships/co-ops with private, for-profit companies yielded the highest offer rate (72.2 percent). In contrast, just 43.9 percent of students who had unpaid internships/co-ops with private, for-profit companies received offers. (See Figure 1.)

The difference in offer rates between paid and unpaid positions is evident across employer types, including nonprofit (51.7 percent vs. 41.5 percent), state/local government (50.5 percent vs. 33.8 percent), and federal government sectors (61.9 percent vs. 50 percent). (See Figure 1.)

There was also a similar pattern in regard to starting salary offers. Having had a paid internship/co-op with a private, for-profit company yielded the highest median offer at $53,521, while the median offer for students who took unpaid internships/co-ops with a private, for-profit company was $34,375.

The same held true across industry sectors—nonprofit ($41,876 vs. $31,443), state/local government ($42,693 vs. $32,969), and federal government sectors ($48,750 vs. $42,501).

Overall, an employer was far more likely to offer a job to a student prior to graduation if he or she had an internship or co-op—especially a paid position. The gap in offer rates between students with internship/co-op experience and those without such experience grew from 12.6 percent in 2011 to 20 percent in 2015 (56.5 percent versus 36.5 percent).

The Class of 2015 Student Survey was administered to 39,950 students at the associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree levels through NACE's college members from February 11, 2015, to April 30, 2015. The focus of the survey report is the 9,184 bachelor's degree students who indicated that they would be graduating—or already had graduated—during the 2014-2015 academic school year (July 1 to June 30), and were thus members of the Class of 2015. The Class of 2015 Student Survey was sponsored by Enterprise.

Survey participants can access a full copy of the report through MyNACE. Highlights from the Class of 2015 Student Survey are available at

Figure 1: Job offer rates and starting salary offers, by type of internship/co-op experience

Nonprofit organization
Employer Type178
Received Offer51.7%
Offer Rate$41,876
State or local government agency
Employer Type101
Received Offer50.5%
Offer Rate$42,693
Federal government agency
Employer Type42
Received Offer61.9%
Offer Rate$48,750
Employer TypePrivate, for-profit company
Received Offer111
Offer Rate43.9%
Median Starting Salary Offers$34,375
Nonprofit organization
Employer Type299
Received Offer41.5%
Offer Rate$31,443
State or local government agency
Employer Type139
Received Offer33.8%
Offer Rate$32,969
Federal government agency
Employer Type30
Received Offer50.0%
Offer Rate$42,501
No internship or co-op
Employer Type941
Received Offer36.5%
Offer Rate$38,572
Employer Type Applied Received Offer Offer Rate Median Starting Salary Offers
Paid Private, for-profit company 1,015 733 72.2% $53,521
Nonprofit organization 178 92 51.7% $41,876
State or local government agency 101 51 50.5% $42,693
Federal government agency 42 26 61.9% $48,750
Unpaid Private, for-profit company 253 111 43.9% $34,375
Nonprofit organization 299 124 41.5% $31,443
State or local government agency 139 47 33.8% $32,969
Federal government agency 30 15 50.0% $42,501
No internship or co-op 941 343 36.5% $38,572
Source: Class of 2015 Student Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers
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