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  • Interns/Co-ops Spend Most Time on Problem-solving Tasks

    August 16, 2017 | By NACE Staff

    Interns use their analytical and problem-solving skills on the job.

    TAGS: internships, compensation, trends and predictions, surveys, nace insights, co_ops

    Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals

    Interns and co-ops continue to spend the bulk of their time on duties requiring analytic/problem-solving and project management skills, and very little time on administrative/clerical and non-essential tasks, according to results of NACE’s 2017 Internship & Co-op Survey.

    Since this survey first collected data on interns’ and co-ops’ work duties in 2009, the average percentage of time that they have spent across six various types of tasks has not changed in any significant way.

    In each of the last nine years, including 2017, both interns and co-ops have, on average, spent more than half of their time on project management and, in particular, analytics/problem-solving tasks; one-third of their time on communications and logistics tasks; about 10 percent of their time on administrative/clerical; and minimal time on non-essential tasks. (See Figure 1.)

    Contrary to what one might expect, the percentage of time interns and co-ops spent on these various work duties were not correlated with their respective acceptance rates for full-time offers. At face value, this suggests that students will accept a full-time offer even if they had a less than satisfactory experience and, considering the state of the college hiring market in recent years, that may be true for the time being.

    However, as the market continues to improve in the ways that this year’s hiring projections suggest, students are likely to become more selective and employers, in turn, should be particularly diligent in cultivating work experiences that predispose them to accepting full-time offers.

    NACE’s 2017 Internship & Co-op Survey was conducted from November 21, 2016, to February 17, 2017, from NACE employer members; there were 276 respondents, representing 26.4 percent of all eligible respondents. The 2017 Internship & Co-op Survey report is available to participants through MyNACE. An executive summary of the 2017 Internship & Co-op Survey is available on NACEWeb.

    Figure 1: Breakdown of work duties for interns and co-ops

    Work Duty Interns Co-ops
    Analytic/problem solving 35.3% 34.4%
    Project management 24.1% 24.6%
    Communications 18.5% 18.6%
    Logistics 12.0% 12.2%
    Administrative/clerical 8.4% 7.6%
    Non-essential 1.7% 2.7%
    Source: 2017 Internship & Co-op Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers