An internship can be the springboard to an exciting, rewarding career. The term “internship” sounds exciting, but there are internships and then there are internships, so to speak. I’ve known college students who served internships and I've seen a wide variety.
If you’re in college and currently interested in interning, one advantage that you have is the experience you gained selecting the colleges to which you applied. That allowed you to match your personal needs, skills and preferences with many possible choices. Hopefully, you visited campuses and maybe even talked to current students to get a feel for what a certain college is really like.
The same selection techniques can be used for landing an internship. All internships are not shining examples of career building. One of the students I knew who interned with a relatively small company found herself being used as a kind of utility gopher. She made coffee and copies, ran errands for staff and learned practically nothing about the hows and whys of the business for which she was interning.
Of course, because she was such a positive, cooperative “intern,” when it came time for her to apply for jobs after graduation, she got excellent references from some key people at the company where she interned and ended up being hired by a company in the field she was hoping to get into -- not the company where she interned, though.
Before exploring interning in more depth, be aware of the kinds of things to look for from internships. If you’re not discriminating enough during your selection process, you could end up making coffee, sorting mail and dropping off the boss’ dry cleaning instead of getting hands-on, “real world” business experience.
You may be wondering which colleges are known for the high quality and effectiveness of their programs. I searched for “best college internship programs” and came upon The Princeton Review’s list, which is mentioned in the short but helpful article The 15 best colleges for internships — and 3 strategies to improve your offerings.
Here Are the Top 15 Colleges for Internships, As Rated by TPR:
1. Northeastern University
2. Wabash College
3. University of Richmond
4. Bentley University
5. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
6. Claremont McKenna College
7. College of William and Mary
8. Harvey Mudd College
9. College of Wooster
10. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
11. Wake Forest University
12. Bennington College
13. Pennsylvania State University — University Park
14. Barnard College
15. Clemson University
Ask potential colleges about how they promote their students for internships and see if their methods are similar to those of the top schools listed here.
If you are serious about internships, perhaps you may be interested in Vault.com. I received some information from Vault the other day about their rankings and it inspired today's article. The Vault site proclaims:
Career Intelligence: Find out what it's really like to work within an industry, company or profession, and how to position yourself to start, advance or change your career.
If I were looking into internships, this statement would certainly attract me. Obviously, this is a press release and I don’t usually pass along press release information here, but there’s some good info available in it, and I’d like to share some of it. The opening paragraphs set the tone about the competitive world of internships:
Students across the country know that an internship is essential in order to get their foot in the door of any industry. And with competition for internships at the most desirable US companies at an all-time high, Vault.com’s Top Internship Rankings have become an essential tool for students to get an edge over their peers. Vault will release its latest Internship Rankings on Thursday, November 1, 2018.
Accordingly, it looks like we have at least one source that ranks internships. Keep in mind that all rankings are in one way or another subjective, since there are so many non-quantifiable variables that can color ranking outcomes. However, unlike college rankings, there are relatively few internship rankings. This Vault information can be quite helpful. Here’s Vault’s ranking methodology:
Vault’s 2019 Vault Internship Rankings are based on a survey of more than 13,000 interns and include a variety of categories. The “Most Prestigious Internships” ranks the companies that students most desire to have on their resume, while the “Best 50 Internships” ranks the top internship programs based on ratings from current and past interns.
That’s a lot of helpful information, although the caveat is, just like it is with college admissions, the most sought-after internships in any field are going to be the most competitive and the hardest to get into. Keeping that in mind, then, let’s take a look at which companies are offering the highest rated -- and most prestigious -- internships. This comes directly from Vault’s release:
… This past summer, Vault surveyed more than 13,000 current and former interns from more than 120 programs. In addition to asking respondents to rate and review their own internship experiences for our 2019 Best Internships Rankings, we asked interns to rate the prestige of other employers, to determine which internships are the most desirable. Survey respondents were presented with a list of top companies and, on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the highest (“It’s a dream job!”) and one being the lowest (“No one wants to work there”), they were asked to rate each company on how prestigious its internship is. Interns were asked to rate only the companies with whose reputations they were familiar. Vault averaged the rating for each employer and then ranked the companies in order, starting with the highest score as No. 1 down to No. 50.
The Top 20 Most Prestigious Internship Programs for 2018 are:
6. Goldman Sachs
8. J.P. Morgan
10. The Walt Disney Company
12. Morgan Stanley
15. Berkshire Hathaway
19. The Boston Consulting Group
For the fourth year in a row, Google ranked No. 1 for prestige, with survey respondents saying that “it’s the best you can get” and “an engineer’s dream.” Respondents also call it “the most impressive internship to put on your resume,” “probably the most prestigious STEM internship opportunity” and “the number one firm for millennials to work for.” In addition, “it pays well” and has an “awesome work culture” and “amazing perks.”
…Apple held on to the No. 2 ranking. Respondents told us that Apple is “changing the world” and “the top company in the world” — it’s “where everyone wants to work [and] would be a “dream job” and “look incredibly impressive on a resume.”…
I’m leaving out a huge amount of helpful information from this Vault release. I encourage you to read it in its entirety. Here’s a sub-group of rankings:
Vault Ranks The Top Industry-Specific Internships
Vault also broke out the rankings further to include Top Internship for nine industry-specific categories:
- Best Accounting Internship: Elliott Davis Decosimo ENVISION Summer Internship Experience
- Best Consulting Internship: Infosys Limited InStep
- Best Energy Internship: Anadarko Petroleum Corporation Internship Program
- Best Financial Services Internship: Kleiner Perkins (KP) Fellows Program
- Best Healthcare Internship: Abbott Laboratories Internship Program
- Best Investment Banking Internship: Evercore Advisory Summer Analyst and Summer Associate Program
- Best Media & Telecommunications Internship: Nickelodeon Animation Studio Nickternship Program
- Best Retail & Consumer Products Internship: RAI Internship Program
- Best Tech & Engineering Internship: Abbott Laboratories Internship Program
Skipping to the end, here are some important trends you need to know:
Trends From Vault’s Internship Survey
In addition to ranking the companies with the best internship programs, Vault discovered some interesting facts about students, internships and the internship search:
- Half (approximately 50 percent) of internships resulted in full-time job offers.
- Pay was the No. 1 deciding factor when choosing an internship. Location was a close second, followed by career advancement in their chosen industry and the opportunity for a full-time job offer.
- 59.7 percent of respondents found their internships through campus recruiting, 11.4 percent through referrals and family members, 10.6 percent through a company’s website, 7.4 percent through professional networking and 5.1 percent through online job boards.
- 75 percent of respondents relied primarily on their laptops or desktops for researching internships, while 23 percent also used their smart phones, and 2 percent used tablets.…
Doing some serious research can pay off handsomely if you’re looking for an internship. Don’t settle for making coffee or copies. There are meaningful opportunities out there. Study up and find them.