3 reasons why every student needs an internship

More students are pursuing higher education with career outcomes in mind, and many begin their college journey with the goal of landing a job by graduation.

In reality, only 27% of bachelor degree recipients from 2002-2016 reported having a job by graduation, Brandon Busteed and Zac Auter write for Gallup. And 22% of students take seven months or longer to find a job after graduation, according to the Gallup-Purdue Index.  

To help students land jobs immediately after they graduate, internships must become a graduation requirement, Busteed and Auter argue. Pulling from the Gallup-Purdue data, the authors round up three reasons why students need internships to succeed.

Reason 1: Work experience shortens the job search

Students who have completed an internship often experience a shorter job search, Busteed and Auter write. In fact, students with relevant work experience were more than twice as likely to land a job immediately after graduation (42%) than those who did not have relevant work experience (20%).

And among graduates who took longer than a year to find a job, only 8% reported having previous internship experience, compared with 21% who had no work experience.

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Reason 2: Internship experience benefits all majors

Relevant work experience benefits all students in their job search—regardless of major, Busteed and Auter write. Engineering students seem to benefit the most from internships, with more than two-thirds of these students landing a job by graduation.

Similarly, social science majors are more than twice as likely to have a job lined up by graduation if they had relevant work experience. Similarly, 29% of humanities students with internship experience had a post-grad job lined up, compared to just 15% of their peers without work experience.

Reason 3: Internships can strengthen the value of a college degree

Students with relevant work experience are also more likely to land jobs that are "completely related" to their undergraduate studies, Busteed and Auter note.

Students with relevant work experience who land degree-relevant jobs are more likely to consider the cost of their education worth it, they add. About 47% of graduates who work in a profession related to their academic studies strongly agreed that their degree was worth the cost, whereas only 29% of those who work in professions unrelated to their degree consider their education worth it.

Some colleges have already made internships a requirement for graduation. For example, students at Endicott College must complete at least three internships—and more than 90% of graduates get jobs in their field of study, according to Laura Rossi-Le, undergraduate dean at Endicott College.

In the long run, successful graduates can translate into future donors, Busteed and Auter write. Students who consider their degree was worth the cost "are twice as likely to have donated to their alma mater in the last 12 months," they note (Busteed/Auter, Gallup, 12/12).

It could be time to revisit the career outcomes conversation

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