According to surveys conducted by US News and World Report, Clarkson University in upstate New York tops the list of national universities with the highest percentage of 2011 graduates working as interns at some point in their undergraduate careers.
With 86 percent of its graduating seniors interning, Clarkson makes completing a “professional experience” a prerequisite for graduation from three of its schools, according to the Clarkson website. This kind of support for “experiential education” probably accounts for the astonishingly high numbers posted by the internship program.
Coming in second, the Colorado School of Mines not only placed 81 percent of its students in internships, but also found them very well paying jobs. In a salary survey completed for last summer, interns received from $8.75 to $44.00 per hour in their internship assignments, with the highest paying jobs found in Petroleum Engineering averaging $27.22 per hour.
Based on data provided by 330 colleges and universities, US News found that on average 36.9 percent of 2011 graduates took part in an internship while in school. Of the “national universities” providing data to US News, an average of 29.6 percent graduated with internship credentials.
In today’s competitive job market, grads are finding that it’s not always enough to have top grades to get the job. Employers are increasingly looking for hands-on experience to support academics.
And colleges are responding by encouraging students in all majors to seek out experiential learning opportunities. In fact, many are beginning to require internships, clinical experiences, or practicum experiences for graduation.
At American University, many students intern locally at institutions such as the World Bank, National Institutes of Health, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or the Smithsonian Institution. But there also exists a “global network of opportunities” where students may also find exciting internships at places like the Associated Press in Thailand or the Global Conscience Initiative in Cameroon.
“At American University (AU), interns don’t just fetch coffee or make copies,” notes the AU Intern Blog. “They work in one of the most exciting cities in the world and learn about their fields and themselves through stimulating experiences.”
According to the American University Career Center more than 85 percent of AU undergrads and 70 percent of graduate student complete one or more internships before graduation, also placing AU among the top intern-producing universities in the country.
Across town, George Washington University operates a cooperative education (Co-op) program alongside its well-established internship program. Co-op positions are always paid, related to the major, and last for ten weeks a semester. Although engineering opportunities are most available, students in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences have been employed as analysts and economists at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ernst & Young, FDIC, the Federal Reserve System, OMB, and the International Monetary Fund, among others.
And among many incredible local opportunities, Georgetown University’s Program on Science in the Public Interest (SPI) sponsors competitive science policy internships as learning opportunities for junior or senior science majors. SPI students are placed in Congressional, Executive Branch, and advocacy organization assignments and are exposed to administrative, legislative, and casework projects.
Internship programs are not without controversy, and colleges have recently been called to task for taking advantage of students or displacing paid workers with unpaid workers. The Department of Labor was concerned enough to publish a series of Federal Guidelines on Internships.
And according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, although 63.1 percent of paid interns received at least one job over, only 37 percent of unpaid interns got an offer—not much higher than the 35.2 percent of individuals without internship experience who received at least one job offer.
Nevertheless, for high school students looking for colleges emphasizing these kinds of experiences, the top 10 “national universities” producing the most interns are:
- Clarkson University NY (86%)
- Colorado School of Mines (81%)
- Dartmouth College NH (72%)
- Clemson University SC (67%)
- Pace University NY (65%)
- University of Pittsburgh PA (59.9%)
- University of Memphis TN (52%)
- Syracuse University NY (50%)
- DePaul University IL (45.3%)
- Stevens Institute of Technology NJ (45%)