An Internship Can Lead to a Full-Time Job, But Your Industry Matters

August, 21 2014

Classes are starting again and you’re probably getting ready to take on another year of college. Time to make friends with new roommates, figure out what textbooks to buy, and get the scoop on where all the hot parties are (among other related things that PR won’t let me talk about). If your college experience was like mine, one question will come up more often than others when you’re back at school: “Where did you intern over the summer?” Or, more worryingly, “Did you intern over the summer?”

Internships can give you an edge in some cases, but is an internship right for you? It’s a reasonable question - whether internships lead directly to full-time opportunities at the same company, particularly through the lens of specific fields of study. Given how difficult it's been for recent grads to get full-time jobs in this economy, we wanted to provide some insights into the trends around internships by mining the data in over 300 million LinkedIn member profiles to answer two questions:

  • Which industries offer the most internship opportunities?
  • How often do those internships lead to a full-time jobs at those companies?

Below, you can see the results of our analysis. The x-axis represents the likelihood that an internship will lead to a full-time job at the same company, and the y-axis represents the availability of internship opportunities.

  • Intern

What does this all mean? Well, it appears that some industries have a ton of internship opportunities, while others have barely any at all. For example, 61 out of every 1,000 hires made in the Public Relations/Communications industry are interns. Compare that to the Education Management industry, where only 5 of every 1,000 hires are interns.

Additionally, some industries are much more likely than others to offer full-time jobs to their interns. Almost 60% of members who interned at companies in the Accounting industry accepted a full-time job at the same company in the year following their internship. Compare that to companies in the Mining and Metals industry, where only 21% of interns take a full-time job at the same company a year later.

Getting an internship anywhere can be a valuable experience. According to Bloomberg61% of students who had an internship also had a job offer by the winter of their senior year. Beyond the obvious benefits of getting your foot in the door and learning relevant skills, it’s a crucial opportunity to grow your professional network on LinkedIn by connecting with your managers and colleagues.

Lets dig a little deeper into the data to see how every industry stacks up:

Top-right quadrant: Lots of intern opportunities, and many turn into full-time jobs

If you’ve got your eye on a specific company you’d like to work for in the future, and they’re in one of these industries, landing an internship may be the best path forward.

Top-left quadrant: Lots of intern opportunities, but few turn into full-time jobs

These industries are likely to offer experiences that are applicable at many companies. Having internship experience may still be valuable when it’s time to apply for a full-time job, even if it’s not at the company you interned in.

Bottom-right quadrant: Few intern opportunities, but many turn into full-time jobs

These industries tend to be really competitive, and hiring managers are likely to rely on a pipeline of top-notch interns to fill full-time jobs. If you manage to get an internship in one of these industries, hang on to it for dear life!

Bottom-left quadrant: Few intern opportunities, and few turn into full-time jobs

Given how few opportunities are available, these industries probably don’t rely on internships as a source of full-time hires. Don’t sweat it if you didn’t get one, as few do. However, if you’re still looking to get your foot in the door, you’ll need to brush up on those networking skills.

If you don’t know what industry to work in, consider using our chart as a guide. If you’re simply looking for internship experience, consider an industry in the top half of our chart. If you’re more interested in full-time opportunities in the future, consider an industry in the right half of our chart. If you want more details on career opportunities available for your field of study, or for graduates at your school, check out LinkedIn for Education.

As we continue to build the Economic Graph, a digital map of the global economy, we’ll be able to provide students with more information to navigate an increasingly complex and challenging job market. Youth unemployment is one of the most important challenges of our time, and we hope to provide meaningful solutions in the near future.

Methodological details: The results of this analysis represent the world seen through the lens of LinkedIn data. As such, it is influenced by how members choose to use the site, which can vary based on professional, social, and regional culture, as well as overall site availability and accessibility. These variances were not accounted for in the analysis.

To determine the likelihood that an internship will lead to a full-time opportunity, we isolated members that indicated in their profile that they held an internship at some point in the past, and currently hold a full-time position. Members whose current full-time position is in the same company as their past internship position were considered to be ‘retained hires.’ We then grouped the company data by their respective industries to determine the internship retention percentages for each industry.

To determine the availability of internship opportunities, we looked at the population of members who indicated they had an internship in 2013 as a fraction of all hiring activity in 2013, broken down by industry.

Only members with English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, and Dutch language profiles were included in the analysis.

Interactive chart by Skye Riley