Average Salaries for Interns Static at Bachelor’s Degree Level

By Theresa Minton-Eversole Apr 5, 2010
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College students taking part in paid internships during 2010 can expect to earn about the same as their intern peers earned in 2009, according to a new study conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

NACE’s 2010 Internship Survey shows that, overall, interns at the bachelor’s degree level will average $17 per hour, down slightly from the 2009 average of $17.13. Some interns, however, can expect higher hourly rates, with actuarial science majors realizing the highest average hourly rate ($20.26), followed by mathematics ($19.02), statistics ($19.02), engineering ($18.31) and computer science majors ($18.20).

While bachelor’s-degree-level interns won’t see an increase in their average hourly rate, those pursuing master’s degrees will.

“Among master’s-degree-level interns, we’re seeing an average hourly rate of $24.29,” said NACE Executive Director Marilyn Mackes in a statement about the results. “That’s up 5 percent from last year, suggesting there is more competition for interns at this level this year.”

In 2010, master’s-level interns averaged $23.18 per hour.

NACE’s 2010 Internship Survey was conducted from Jan. 11-Feb. 26, 2010, among employing organizations holding NACE membership. A total of 235 organizations, or 27 percent, took part.

Internship Program Best Practices

Provide interns with real work assignments. Ensure that hiring managers provide students with real work assignments related to their majors and considered valuable to the organization by checking job descriptions and communicating with interns frequently throughout the work term.

Hold orientations. Hold an orientation session for managers, mentors and students to ensure that everyone starts with the same expectations and role definitions./p>

Provide interns with a handbook and web site. The information serves as a guide for students, answering frequently asked questions and communicating the “rules” in a welcoming way. Also, use the web site to communicate announcements from the college relations staff or articles of interest written by the interns.

Provide housing and relocation assistance. Affordable housing will make a company’s opportunity the more attractive to students, broadening the pool of candidates. If paying for all or some of interns’ housing, design (and stick to) a clear policy detailing who is eligible, so as to eliminate perceptions of unequal treatment. Many organizations pay some or all of interns’ relocation expenses.

Offer scholarships. Pairing a scholarship with an internship can recruit for internship programs, especially when you are having difficulty attracting a particular type of student or student with a specific skill set.

Offer flex-time and/or other unusual work arrangements. Considering how students spend the day on campus (varied schedule with varied activities each day), an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-through-Friday schedule can be a bit of an adjustment. Other successful student work arrangements include keeping them on as part-time, remote employees after they go back to school and having them come back to work over school breaks for a couple of weeks.

Have an intern manager. If the program isn’t big enough to warrant a dedicated full-time staff member, hire an HR graduate student and put this college relations intern in charge of the daily operation of the internship program. This gives the interns a “go-to” person and gives staff a break from the many daily tasks involved in running a program. But plan the program structure and be accessible to the college relations intern.

Encourage team involvement. College recruiting teams, whether they are “volunteers” who participate in college recruiting, staff members dedicated to college recruiting or some combination, can sponsor social/professional development events and help to orient the interns to the company culture.

Invite career center staff and faculty to visit interns on-site. Some structured university programs include visits by career center staff and faculty, but most do not. Inviting them on-site helps to build better working relationships with these groups, leading to more student referrals, enhanced campus visibility and increased flexibility on their parts when business needs dictate.

Hold new-hire panels. New-hire panels of people who were hired as new grads within the past few years can showcase an organization as a great place to work. Meeting with interns, they can give a brief summary of their backgrounds and answer interns’ questions. The new hires can offer other advice to interns, such as how to handle finances those first couple of years out of school. College relations staff should attend these sessions but should remain unobtrusive so as not to stifle the conversation. Being there helps them stay aware of what is on the minds of the interns, and they can answer questions that might come up.

Enlist company executives as speakers. The best scenario is having the CEO willing to answer questions and able to spend informal time with the students after speaking.

Offer training and encourage outside classes. Providing students with access to in-house training, such as work-related skills and time management, is a tangible way to show students you are interested in their development. Consider providing interns with information about nearby community colleges where they might choose to attend class during their work term.

Conduct focus groups and surveys. Conduct focus groups and feedback surveys to see the organization as students see it. Focus groups in particular can yield information about what competitors are doing that students find appealing.

Showcase intern work through presentations and an expo. Providing a venue for interns to do presentations allows them to demonstrate their achievements and showcases the internship program to employees.

Conduct exit interviews. Whether face to face or over the telephone, a real-time exit interview done by a member of the college relations team can gather feedback on the student’s experience and assess their interest in coming back. Having the students fill out an exit survey gives some structure to the conversation.

Adapted from excerpted material from Building a Premier Internship Program: A Practical Guide for Employers, National Association of Colleges and Employers (2010)

Theresa Minton-Eversole is an online editor/manager for SHRM. She can be reached at teversole@shrm.org

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