More Research Highlights Importance of Internships


By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.

We’ve heard repeatedly that employers value student internship experiences.  The results of a new survey clearly indicate that student internship experience can in fact become a deciding factor in hiring decisions.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) surveyed employers across the country during fall, 2021.  A total of 157 organizations of varying sizes responded to the survey.  Based on the results, NACE reports internships are the most influential factors in a hiring decision when a company chooses between two otherwise equally-qualified candidates.

The study actually distinguished between an internship with the company looking to hire and an internship within that organization’s specific industry. Those factors were the only two that employers consider to have “very much influence.” The full results of the study are in this table:

NACE said the drop in the influence of grade point average has been precipitous the last several years and that decline continued in this study, as did the influence of a candidate holding a leadership position.  NACE notes, however, that the influence of both internship attributes, while at the top of deciding factors, has also waned slightly since 2020.  

Nonetheless, the director of UofL’s University Career Center, Bill Fletcher, said this study again offers concrete evidence that students who want an edge in the job market need to keep internship and co-ops at the top of their to-do list. “There are many benefits to these experiences including exploring particular career paths, applying knowledge gained in the classroom, building skill sets, and networking to name a few. This study reinforces again that employers think internship-oriented experiences are highly desirable and provides yet another reason why UofL is giving more emphasis to ‘engaged learning.’”

More information about internships can be found on the University Career Center website. Students who are interested in an internship or co-op should talk with their program coordinator to discuss academic credit and potential assistance in seeking a position. Some current internship position listings/opportunities are available on Handshake