The 2020 intern class faced major challenges during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. In April 2020, an estimated 16% of employers withdrew internship offers and CNBC Make It spoke to several interns whose internships were postponed or canceled.

But among the internships that were not canceled, wages remained high. According to a recent survey of 267 employers (including big names like Adidas, Dell, and Wells Fargo) conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the average hourly wage for paid interns was $ 20.76 in the summer of 2020 – an increase of 1 . $ 22 from last year and the highest rate ever recorded.

More than half (56%) of companies said they helped interns move, including an average of $ 2,500 for accommodation and $ 1,700 for travel expenses. About 14% of employers said they use signing bonuses to turn interns into full-time workers.

Of the employers who completed an internship in summer 2020, around 72% did so virtually.

Today internships are the “primary resource large corporations use to recruit their full-time employees,” said Joshua Kahn, associate director of research and public policy at NACE. “Companies expected that the competition would no longer be in the charts. And what are the other options for attracting talent? You can change wages, perks, and benefits. Corporate culture is something that they can manipulate to attract and hold, but that’s a long term change. “

According to a NACE survey of 5,286 interns in the internship class of 2020, 66.4% have received and accepted full-time offers.

But while competition from top employers may have resulted in good pay for some, nearly 40% of interns surveyed said they weren’t getting paid at all – creating a growing gap in the benefits of internships.

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“At the big companies, practically everyone pays them,” says Kahn. “What we are seeing is that most of the unpaid internships are in the non-profit sector, the government sector.”

Kahn adds that NACE is campaigning for employers to pay interns.

“There’s a movement building to get rid of unpaid internships,” he says. “It’s a justice issue. Often times, those who can do an unpaid internship are in a more privileged position. It’s almost an obstacle or barrier for people from lower income families who want to go into public service or government or the nonprofit sector, it becomes a barrier. ”

NACE data indicate that there are significant inequalities in the types of young people using internships and ‘collaborations’, a name used to describe a long-term internship program. Co-op participants often receive school credit and payment.

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Men make up the majority of interns (57.6%) and co-ops (67.5%), and the majority of college students who take part in these experiences are white (62.0% of interns and 71% of co-ops ).

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“There was a lot of oral engagement for DEI [efforts.] Last summer we asked employers about their future plans, and an overwhelming number of them committed to equity-based recruiting, ‘says Kahn?’ And the number they had was much smaller than the number they had made commitments. So we talked a lot, saw less action. “

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