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Survey: majority of internships done by college Class of 2011 were paid

internship leads to job

More than half of the internships undertaken by the college Class of 2011 were paid, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers' 2011 Student Survey.

Of the almost 20,000 graduating seniors surveyed, 52.5 percent said they had taken part in an internship at some point during their college career. "Our survey found that about 52 percent of [those] internships were paid," Marilyn Mackes, executive director of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, said in a statement.

What's more, 62 percent of respondents said they were interested in working full-time for their internship employer, regardless of whether or not they were paid as interns.

"The type of work they did as interns had a bigger effect on their interest in working for their intern employer," Mackes said. "The more time they spent on professional-level work, the more likely they were to want to work for the employer full-time following graduation."

Still, the survey found that pay does seem to correlate to an intern's ability to get a job offer. More than 61 percent of college students who undertook a paid internship in the for-profit sector had a job offer at the time of graduation, while just 37 percent of those who did an unpaid internship in the for-profit sector had a job offer, and only a third of those who didn't have any type of internship experience had a job offer upon graduation from college.

According to Mackes, the difference between the type of work a paid intern does as opposed to an unpaid intern might well account for the difference--among survey respondents, paid interns generally spent more time on professional tasks, while unpaid interns performed more clerical work. The result could be that a paid intern "may offer employers more of the type of experience they're seeking in their new hires," Mackes said.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers' 2011 Student Survey was conducted from mid-February through April 30, 2011. More than 50,000 college students nationwide, including nearly 20,000 graduating seniors, participated in the survey.

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