New LinkedIn Data: Internships Are Really, Really Worth It

When you think of internships, what comes to mind? For many, it's the stereotype of the overworked, unpaid intern bringing coffee and performing other mundane tasks that have little to do with their chosen field. But today, a strategic internship can be so much more than that—and offer quantifiable benefits that can last long into your career.

New LinkedIn data has found that interns are almost 25% more likely than non-interns to start a full-time position within 6 months of graduation. In today's competitive job market, that's a big plus. "To stand out from the competition, job seekers should be looking for anything that would give them a leg up—and internships are proving to offer a real competitive edge," says Andrew Seaman, LinkedIn News Senior Managing Editor for Jobs & Career Development.

Seaman, who also authors the weekly Get Hired newsletter and podcast, believes more young people should pursue internship opportunities. "Even if an intern doesn't end up staying at the company where they interned, there's tremendous value in this experience when we think about the professional connections made through an internship," he says.

Sara Rahmani, Vice President of People Experience & DEI at Chronus, believes this is especially true today. "With most entry-level jobs now requiring several years of experience, internships are becoming critical for success in finding a desirable full-time job," she says.

I recently interviewed Seaman and Rahmani on the state of internships in 2024 and why they can give your career such a boost. Here's what we discussed.

How to Find an Internship

One of the biggest barriers to young people pursuing internships is often simply not knowing where or how to look. How do you find the right opportunity?

First, Seaman advises that students should first spend time thinking about what they want to be doing, as well as what they want to get out of the experience. Those seeking an internship should:

Choose wisely. "You want to choose an internship that aligns with long-term career objectives or provides exposure to a field of interest," Seaman says.

Seek practical opportunities. "Look for internships that offer mentorship and training," says Seaman, "as well as opportunities to work on real projects to gain hands-on experience."

Check the fit. "Understanding the company culture will help determine if an opportunity is the right fit for a professional's working style and personal growth," says Seaman. "84% of Gen Z say that cultural compatibility with the company they work for is essential."

Align your values. Seaman says company pages on LinkedIn can offer clues as to whether the company's commitments and values align with your own. "Use LinkedIn's Job Collections and Preferences features to find values-matched opportunities, for example, those offering flexible work, or companies with a commitment to diversity or sustainability," he says.

Seaman notes that LinkedIn currently shows 75k internship roles open across the U.S. "When applying to these, keep in mind that timing is important," he says. "Summer internships are the most common and there are some sweet spots timing-wise—start applying in early fall for specialized job functions like accounting, finance, and engineering, or in January/early spring for roles in consulting, business development, or marketing."

Rahmani adds that college students can often find good opportunities through their college's career center and alumni networks. "Many will have connections to companies that are hiring summer interns and could be valuable in helping someone get their foot in the door," she says.

Students should also take a look at their current network. "While young people may think they don't have a ton of connections or experience, they actually have a wide range of people they can tap to find opportunities or introduce them to people in their field of interest, including classmates and teachers, parents and family friends, volunteer coordinators or bosses from a summer job," Seaman says.

Unpaid Internships: Yea or Nay?

While many internships today are now paid, there are still unpaid internships available that you may consider. "Many students won't be able to accept an unpaid internship that often includes a cost for commuting in addition to time spent working without a salary," says Seaman. "But there are some internship scholarships that students can apply for that will give them a stipend."

Seaman does believe that unpaid internships can be a viable option, though generally they should be approached as a last resort. "Regardless of if an internship is paid or not, interns will gain a ton of learning experience and connections that can help further their career," he says.

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