Internships have become a common form of work experience, with an estimated 70-75% of college students participating in some kind of internship before graduation. Recent evidence suggests that some employers perceive internship and other work experience to be more important than academic credentials such as GPA or college major when evaluating graduates for employment. However, internships have the potential to reproduce inequality at a critical point in the career ladder: labor market entry. Many internships are unpaid or underpaid, which may restrict access to those who can afford the cost of working for free or at reduced wages. If internships have become the new gateway to entry-level careers, this suggests that an analysis of internships can further our understanding of school-to-work transitions.
Sociologist Carrie Shandra will provide a descriptive account of the internship market and its growth. She will explore whether internship prevalence and growth varies with labor market characteristics, including geography, industry and occupation, and company characteristics. Shandra will also examine education, experience, and technical and soft-skill requirements to explore how internship credentials and skills have changed over time and how they compare to entry-level credentials and skills.