How to Find and Apply for Paid Internships

Internships are an important part of finishing college. It’s an opportunity to get to know a future career and network in ways you can’t do otherwise. Paid internships are the best kind you can get, as salary can be competitive with other jobs available to college students. Here’s how to find the best paid internships, as well as what you need to apply to land your first one.

What are Paid Internships?

Time spent working for a company in a field closely related to your major (and often for college credit or as part of trade training) is often called an internship. Internships happen during the final few summers of your college career. Some students, however, start interning as early as their freshman year in school. Paid internships offer some kind of hourly wage or salary, although it can be significantly less than a regular job at the same company.

How to find paid internships

What Do Paid Internships Pay?

Wages vary significantly. A start-up may only pay a bit above minimum wage, while a giant and well-established tech giant can pay $40 an hour or more. Interns find that a good mix of wages and benefits are most important. (For example, lower pay can often be justified if connection for a future job are able to be made.)

Here are some sample paid internship wages as listed at GlassDoor.com:

Avg Hourly Wage
Tech Startup$10.00
Softdrink Manufacturer$22.00
Health Insurer$19.00
Top Online Shopping Site$32.00
Advertising Agency$16.00
Big Hollywood Film Studio$16.00
Major Electronics Manfacturer$19.00

The average rate for a Bachelor’s degree level intern was $17.20.

The highest paid internships are for the following majors:

Avg Monthly Salary
Computer Science$8,000.00
Supply Chain and Logistics$2,800.00
Engineering$6,250.00
Oil and Gas Extraction$5,900.00
Chemical (Pharmaceutical) Manufacturing$5,000.00
Financial Analysts$5,400.00

The lowest paid interns were found in the following majors:

Avg Hourly Wage
Liberal Education$10.90
Social Sciences$11.00
Media$12.00
Fashion Design$11.00
Music$11.00
Theater$9.00

Employee benefits are not usually available to interns – even paid interns. Fewer than 33% of paid internships come with benefits.

How to Find Paid Internships

Employers that offer internships usually start planning for new interns around seven months in advance. These are their recommendations for anyone looking for a paid internship:

1. Employers favor career and job fairs over off-campus recruiting opportunities. Since many companies look for interns as colleges they have already worked with, it helps to know about these relationships ahead of time. Ask your college if they have a list of past companies that have done them. Then, start researching each one to see which might be a good fit. Be sure to attend any and all career fairs to get all the information you can!

What paid internships pay

2. Companies looking for interns choose schools based on several important factors. They include geographic location, majors offered, and quality of programs. If you attend a school notable for its science program, for example, expect to access to more science-based internships that a school who isn’t as reputable.

3. You want to stand out as a potential intern. It’s important that your experience, resume, and overall interview showcase what employers are looking for. Demonstrate the following skills to improve your chances:

  • Teamwork
  • Research and analytics
  • Organization and planning
  • Communication (both verbal and written)
  • Critical thinking (decision-making)

Top 6 Websites for Finding Paid Internships Online

If your school is not very active in courting big companies for their internship programs, you may have to handle the job search on your own. The following websites often list several internships at any time. Be sure to search or sort by “paid” internships.

1. GlassDoor

One of the most detailed salary and job search sites available, GlassDoor uses crowdsourced info to provide salary information and employee reviews. Many internships are listed, as well, and you can see what each one is paying before you apply. This site works best when searching for industry-specific internships or internships by company. If you don’t find many results, try broadening your search. Click here to search GlassDoor.com for paid internships.

2. Ed2010

Specific to those in media and publishing, Ed2010 has many internship listings not available anywhere else. Unique to the site is the ability to choose jobs by region, including a healthy section of work-from-home internships. You’ll find internships with major newspaper, magazine, and online content portals. Click here to search Ed2010 for paid internships.

3. LinkedIn

This is the top networking site for job-seekers, but their listings are healthy, as well. Find paid internships searching the job section for the title you want, or click on the company page you hope to work at and see what’s available. Remember to beef up your LinkedIn profile before apply. Include any volunteer or work experience that will show you to be a good candidate for the internship! Click here to search LinkedIn for paid internships.

4. Internships.com

This site was started by Chegg.com, a top textbook seller and educational tutoring provider. It currently offers thousands of employer-listed internships. Searching for an opportunity is straightforward and should yield dozens of results. If you’re unsure as to what type of internship might be relevant to you, they offer a search engine by college major and zip code to help narrow it down. Click here to search Interships.com for paid internships.

5. Looksharp.com

This site is an all-in-one hub for both creating a resume and finding the perfect internship. With free tools such as resume templates and cover letter tips, it’s a good resource for those just starting out with their internship search. Featured jobs and employers can expose students to new kinds of jobs they may have not considered, as well. Click here to search Looksharp.com for paid internships.

6. Idealist.com

Finally, if your values lead you more than your wallet, an internship through the this search engine may be more your thing. The Internship tab offers a variety of service, social action, health, and non-profit positions, with many of them being paid. If you are hoping to score a career working in these types of positions, this is a good place to start. Click here to search Idealist.com for paid internships. 

Students who have the paid internship of their dreams stress that you cannot start trying too early for the good jobs. Some have sent over 40 applications to get just one call back. Internships can pay well and set a course for a lucrative career.

When the NACE queried more than 9,200, they found that 63.1% of students with a paid internship received at least one job offer. Only 37% of former unpaid interns did, however, (which was only 1% more than those who never interned at all.) A paid internship means more than just some spending cash for the summer. It can actually jump-start your career sooner and for more money.

Sources:

NACE.org