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  • Study Shows Impact of Internships on Career Outcomes

    October 11, 2017 | By NACE Staff

    A young professional smiles.

    TAGS: internships, trends and predictions, liberal arts, graduate students, nace insights

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals

    Grade point average and the total number of internships a student completed as an undergraduate student are the major predictors of initial career outcomes, according to results of a new study from the NACE Center for Career Development and Talent Acquisition. The study was conducted by a team at Mount Holyoke College.

    The researchers 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 findings are detailed in The Impact of Undergraduate Internships on Post-Graduate Outcomes for Liberal Arts.

    The team, composed of Eleanor Townsley, professor of sociology and director of the Nexus Curriculum to Career Program; Liz Lierman, director of the Career Development Center (CDC); Jenny Watermill, associate director for internships and student employment in the CDC; and Dyanne Rousseau, CDC program manager, also examined the relationship between internship participation and student development outcomes—such as academic performance and engagement in career development activities. In addition, they studied whether the introduction of Mount Holyoke College’s universal internship-funding program in 2014 has increased student access to internship opportunities.

    Their research found:

    • 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.
    • 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.

    The Mount Holyoke College research team says the 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 Impact of Undergraduate Internships on Post-Graduate Outcomes for the Liberal Arts is available as a free download.