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Articles / Paying for College / Internship Programs

Internship Programs

Dave Berry
Written by Dave Berry | May 26, 2016

Interning is a great way to gain valuable real-world workplace experience. It's also an excellent way to earn money to pay for college and other expenses, assuming that the internship is one that pays the intern. Some don't.

Most, if not all of this summer's interning opportunities have been filled for some time now, as we're on the eve of a Memorial Day weekend. Thus, the information here should best be observed by students who will seek internships next year.

Internships are not just summer gigs. Some colleges incorporate internships as part of their curriculum. Northeastern University, for example, is known for its outstanding internships. Their Career Development pages offer key insights about interning. Such as:

Why do an Internship?

- “Test the waters" to see if a potential career is right for you.

- Get some experience to add to your resume before co-op.

- Help build your network of connections-Employers love to hire from within!

- Students, especially those in the sciences and engineering.

- You may also want to consider an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates).

There is lots of good information on that site, so don't hesitate to give yourself a comprehensive briefing about interning and so-called "co-ops."

You may be wondering about which internships are the "best," the most sought after and -- yes, here's that word -- prestigious -- out there. Well, thanks to good luck and timing, yesterday I received the article Best College Internship Programs from our friends at Campus Grotto (CG). I thought that I would share a little of that information with you today.

In introducing these "best" internships, CG notes:

It's time to drop the coffee-getting intern stereotype as we look at these top college internship programs that offer college students not only real work experience, but a chance to get a foot in the door towards a career. An internship at one of these companies will be fun, knowledgeable and career building and provide a great way to gain experience, determine if you are interested in a certain career, receive on-the-job training and get paid for it at the same time.

These are the Ivy League of internship programs. Getting into the program is the hard part. The reward is the work experience you will receive and the future job offers that come as a result of completing these coveted internship programs.

These are world-class programs with well-respected companies that involve students in projects that give them an opportunity to lead, be a part of a team, and provide a fresh take on new ideas for the company. These internships are so selective that just being offered a position and successfully completing the program at one of these companies can add a significant accomplishment to any resume.

Outside of a resume booster, the true value lies in the connections you'll make working in the business world, the mentoring and feedback you will receive, and the leadership skills you're able to build as you work on projects that will essentially make you an asset to any team (which is why so many interns in these programs end up being offered a real position upon completion of their internship).

The typical college internship program lasts 8-12 weeks during the summer months ...

The article goes on to list the Top 10 programs. I'll fill you in on five of those (my random picks). You can review the rest.

10. ExxonMobil

The ExxonMobil internship program gives you the opportunity to work for a company that tops the Fortune 500 list nearly every year. With an internship providing one of the best ways towards career development and getting a job after college, an internship at Exxon is a great way to get your foot in the door while receiving competitive pay at the same time. Most internships are filled through on-campus interviews so look out for the next career fair to get into this 10-14 week summer program.

5. Genentech

The Genentech internship program gives students the opportunity for real-life work experience at one of the leading companies in biotechnology. Interns get to work side-by-side with biotech industry experts at Genetech headquarters in San Francisco and in other locations in the U.S. that include Vacaville (CA), Oceanside (CA), and Hillsboro (OR).

Interns are challenged with business-critical projects, end-of-summer project presentations to senior management, and an intern video contest. The program is specially designed to allow students to receive feedback on their progression and earn some solid business contacts in the industry.

The program accepts undergrads that have completed at least their sophomore year of college, current grad students, and recent graduates who have graduated within the last two years for the 9-12 week paid internship that is typically completed over the summer.

Students can work in various departments within the company including Research and Development, Manufacturing, Sales and Marketing, and Finance. What makes Genentech one of the top internship programs is the effort put into helping students learn on the job and the networking opportunities they offer through various company social events, career development panels, and their VP Lunch and Learn speaker series that introduces interns to Genentech senior management.

3. Southwest Airlines

By interning at Southwest Airlines, students really get a feel for the company culture and begin to see why it is truly a great place to work. The program provides the best of both worlds, offering a unique opportunity for college students to both work and travel over summer break.

This highly sought-after program remains very competitive, as 311 applicants were given internships out of the 14,000+ that applied in 2015. The program has a wide reach, with last year's intern class being comprised of students from 104 different colleges, so don't feel discouraged to apply if you happen to attend a small school.

After submitting a resume and completing a “Why Southwest?" essay, selected candidates who pass an initial phone interview screening are flown into headquarters for an in-person interview. Those offered positions are given internships at Southwest headquarters in Dallas, Texas, so students will need to relocate for this 3-4 month long program. Travelling between home, school, and company headquarters shouldn't be a problem though as interns fly for free on Southwest flights.

If you're a college student who loves to travel (who doesn't?) and are looking for work experience related to your major, this is a near-perfect opportunity. Check out Campus Reach and view their internship FAQs for more.

7. Nike

In the Nike Internship Program, students become part of the Nike innovation process of combining sports, science, and technology. Interns are given complex business tasks that are challenging and allow real-life development in creativity, teamwork, and personal growth. Opportunities exist for a wide range of majors with interns being able to work in teams and departments that include Design, Global Communications, Digital and Technology, Finance, and Supply Chain Management. With Nike being a global company, intern positions exist everywhere from Nike World Headquarters to Europe and Asia. Some of the best perks of interning at Nike include a membership at their state-of-the-art fitness center and access to the Nike Employee Store.

6. Edward Jones

In the Edward Jones internship program, students have the option to intern with a local Edward Jones branch or at a headquarters location in either St. Louis or Tempe. With branch offices located across the United States, the program offers the convenience of performing an internship locally with a nationally-known corporation.

For ten weeks, students work alongside an Edward Jones Financial Advisor during this full-time paid summer internship. By working side-by-side with a professional in the field, students gain a valuable mentor who can teach the ins and outs of the financial services industry. Students complete the internship during the summer before their senior year and assist the Edward Jones team with marketing and promotions, planning financial seminars, and performing various client services.

I'll leave #1 for you to discover ...


Now, before you get your head in the clouds about Nike, Microsoft, et al, it may pay to do a little balanced research about the pros and cons of internships. I found two excellent articles that address just that.

The first, Advantages & Disadvantages of Internships, discusses both sides of the coin. Just landing an internship is not necessarily your ticket to a wonderful summer experience.

The second article takes a deeper look at the downside of internships. In The Cons of an Internship, you'll see what I meant up above when I mentioned that some internships do not pay:

Many internships do not pay, or pay very poorly. This is probably the biggest drawback for most people who consider an internship over employment. In fact, many adults cannot afford to do an internship that doesn't pay, or may even cost money. The United Nations, a competitive internship provider, doesn't pay its interns. While unpaid internships are legal for non-profit organizations, they may deter students who are economically disadvantaged from gaining valuable experience they otherwise need. Federal regulations require internships at for-profit organizations to be paid, unless the position meets the stringent criteria of a trainee position.

The article addresses another key -- almost traditional -- aspect of internships: menial work:

An internship that offers less experience than promised is a major disappointment. When this is the case, interns often do not find this out until they have already committed to and even begun the internship. Employers may abuse the purpose of an internship; instead of arranging an informative learning experience, they may dump unwanted or menial tasks on the intern, viewing her as unskilled or temporary help.

Check the complete article for additional, perhaps sobering observations .


Be sure to check out all my college-related articles at College Confidential.

Written by

Dave Berry

Dave Berry

Dave is co-founder of College Confidential and College Karma Consulting, co-author of America's Elite Colleges: The Smart Buyer's Guide to the Ivy League and Other Top Schools, and has over 30 years of experience helping high schoolers gain admission to Ivy League and other ultra-selective schools. He is an expert in the areas application strategies, stats evaluation, college matching, student profile marketing, essays, personality and temperament assessments and web-based admissions counseling. Dave is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and has won national awards for his writing on higher education issues, marketing campaigns and communications programs. He brings this expertise to the discipline of college admissions and his role as a student advocate. His College Quest newspaper page won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publisher's Association Newspapers in Education Award, the Thomson Newspapers President's Award for Marketing Excellence and the Inland Press Association-University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Mass Communications Inland Innovation Award for the Best New Page. His pioneering journalism program for teenagers, PRO-TEENS, also received national media attention. In addition, Dave won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award for Celebrate Diversity!, a program teaching junior high school students about issues of tolerance. His College Knowledge question-and-answer columns have been published in newspapers throughout the United States. Dave loves Corvettes, classical music, computers, and miniature dachshunds. He and his wife Sharon have a daughter, son and four grandchildren.

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