Internship Opportunities In a Steep Decline

2020 has not been a good year for internships. As signs of coronavirus began to show in February, job postings for interns dropped by half. In April, they dropped again, by 70%.

Job Postings with “Intern” In Job Title by Month


Job posting with Intern in the job title by month


From January to May, job postings for interns declined 40% more than the market average. Internship postings in the computer science sector dropped from 17 in January to only 1 in April, while internships for Business CIP codes dropped from 62 to 4. Postings relating to Finance CIP codes dropped from 560 to 71 in the same time frame.

This pattern seems to hold true for all major job sectors except one: Nursing. Overall, trends in postings for nursing interns seem to have barely deviated from their usual pattern, remaining within normal ranges. 42 nursing internships were posted in both January and March, when the pandemic was quickly gaining momentum. 21 internships were posted in May, still higher than the 19 posted in December of 2019.

Nursing-Related Internship Postings by Month and Degree Level


Nursing Related Internship Posting Percent of Jobs by Degree Level


Nursing internships are offered mainly to students in master’s-level programs, but analysis showed that this positive trend did not extend to the master’s-level internship market as a whole, which fell 88% from January to May.

Internship Postings for Master’s-Level Students by Month

Jobs by month Internships Master Level Students


Overall, the decline in internships poses a challenge for students and their colleges. Numerous studies have indicated that internship experience gives students a significant boost in the job market, whether it be through direct hiring through their internship or the increased employability of “real-world experience.” For example, at Endicott College, 53% of graduates reported securing their first job at the company where they interned at or through contacts made during their internship.

A larger portion of the class of 2021 will be entering the job market without these crucial industry experiences and connections. In a time of tightening resources, colleges and universities will need to invest in more robust employer recruiting, career fairs, and other approaches to help their students and graduates get started in their careers.

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Gray Associates, Inc. is a software and services firm focused on higher education. We help education clients develop fact-based institutional and marketing strategies that maximize outcomes for students, the school, and its constituencies.

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