By Devin Rogan, Assistant Director, On-campus Recruiting

Over the past decade, we at the career center, as well as university professors and staff have shared with students the increasing importance of obtaining an internship during their college tenure. Internships help students develop valuable skills and provides them with real world experience that they will need to have once they enter the workforce after college. As imperative it has become for students to gain this experience, employers have also noticed the benefits that internships have for their organization and it has had a direct effect on the way they recruit and attract the best candidates to their internship offerings.

According to NACE’s 2016 Guide to Compensation for Interns and Co-ops, “employers have bolstered the slate of benefits they have offered to their interns… with medical and dental insurance now offered by a significant portion of respondents.” Not only have employers increased their healthcare offerings, but 401(k) plan options, vacation time, and paid holidays have drastically increased as well. Please see the chart below that shows the increase in these benefits from 2007 to present.

Figure 1: Employee
Benefits Offered to Interns, 2007-16

Benefit
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
% of responses
Planned social activities
63.9%
68.6%
85.0%
61.9%
60.0%
65.6%
67.4%
69.7%
71.7%
79.1%
Paid holidays
47.6%
50.0%
62.0%
40.5%
49.0%
47.2%
40.4%
44.3%
68.3%
67.4%
401(k) plan
8.8%
10.8%
16.5%
16.7%
13.5%
13.7%
21.3%
21.7%
35.0%
53.5%
Medical insurance
7.5%
6.0%
10.5%
8.3%
9.5%
9.0%
8.7%
10.9%
16.7%
46.5%
Dental insurance
4.4%
4.4%
7.5%
4.2%
7.5%
6.1%
7.4%
9.5%
15.0%
44.2%
Service time
38.8%
35.4%
41.5%
31.0%
30.0%
26.9%
25.2%
31.2%
31.7%
44.2%
Vacation time
8.4%
11.9%
13.5%
10.1%
13.5%
10.8%
10.9%
12.2%
23.3%
30.2%
Scholarships
9.3%
10.1%
15.0%
7.7%
9.0%
7.5%
7.4%
6.8%
5.0%
9.3%
Tuition reimbursement
4.0%
2.6%
6.5%
2.4%
4.5%
4.2%
7.0%
4.1%
5.0%
7.0%

So what does this all mean? Well, internships can no longer be viewed as a time period where students complete all of the “busy work” that full time employees don’t want to spend time doing, such as getting coffee for the office and running errands. Employers realize that undergraduate and graduate students can be valuable assets to their organization and can contribute on a day-to-day basis, and as a result should be rewarded for their efforts.

This changing trend can also show that the competition to find the best talent is steadily increasing. With mostly all organizations offering some sort of internship program, students now have options to choose from and they want to join an organization where they feel valued. This can be in the form of pay or benefits, but may also include professional development, training, mentorship programs, and established goals that the student should be motivated to meet throughout the duration of the internship.

Lastly, employers are planning for the future. All of these extra benefits come at a cost, and that includes the time spent interviewing, selecting, and onboarding the students into their internship. Employers hope that the students excel in their positions, but more employers are using this time period as a “try before they buy” and planning to potentially hire this student as a full time employee after their internship. However, even if hiring isn’t in the employer’s plans, but the student has a great experience with that organization, then the employers brand recognition will increase on campus making their recruiting efforts that much easier.

http://www.naceweb.org/talent-acquisition/internships/trends–insurances-401k-plans-becoming-common-intern-benefits/