Straight A’s are no longer the golden ticket to land you your dream job. Instead, what employers value today is a strong resume with skills and experiences that go beyond classroom learning.
Undertaking an internship during college arms you with relevant work experience in your field. So, why not choose a school that offers the best of both worlds: a strong academic program backed up by incredible internship opportunities?
Here is a lineup of 20 colleges — selected by US News with the help of college presidents, chief academic officers, and deans of students — that offer the best internship programs in the United States.
Topping the list is this private Boston, Massachusetts college. Northeastern boasts an extensive network of organizations that partner with the institution to offer students valuable work experience. Besides academics, this college has more than 400 clubs and student organizations, over 30 fraternities, and receives hefty research grants every year from government bodies.
At Drexel University, students can get a mix of in-class education and extensive on-the-job experience. Drexel collaborates with government bodies, non-profits, and human rights organizations to make it easier for students to land internships and entry-level job opportunities. Even better, most co-ops are paid, and the average salary a Drexel student will take home from these is more than $16,000.
Georgia Institute of Technology
The Graduate Internship Program at Georgia Tech is super helpful for graduates who want to work with industry and government leaders in their respective fields of study. If that’s not enough, the university also mentors disabled students enrolled in its Expanding Career, Education, and Leadership program to find internships and create employment goals.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MIT’s highly ranked graduate schools work closely with premier corporations, universities, and research institutes. Meanwhile, the MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (better known as MISTI) offers world-class opportunities for students to work with leading companies and research labs around the world. Even better, all expenses, including airfare, are paid by the university.
University of Cincinnati
University of Cincinnati’s students gain real-world experience working in companies that range from P&G to NBC’s “Today Show.” Internships and co-ops aside, the college also hosts some excellent undergraduate summer research programs for those who want to dip their toes into the academic world.
Berea College in Kentucky is popular for being the first interracial and coeducational college in the South. Students can choose from volunteering for nonprofits to enrolling for project-based micro-internships and international internship opportunities. The study abroad program is also well-known at Berea College with more than 50 percent of the students traveling internationally during college.
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Elon is a private institution in North Carolina organized into six schools and colleges. The university has an online database called the Elon Job Network where students and alumni can search for opportunities, including on-campus jobs, full-time positions, part-time positions, and internships. Additionally, each year, the university admits 45 first-year students into the honors program, which offers smaller discussion classes and benefits like study abroad grants and special honors housing.
Duke partners with over 3,000 organizations — including some big names like the World Trade Organization, Warner Brothers Entertainment, and Apple — to offer internships and summer jobs for students. The university also offers short-term and gap-year opportunities to students after graduation, making it one of the colleges with the best internship programs.
The Global Engineering Internship Program at Stanford matches undergraduate engineering students to internship opportunities in developing economies. Since Stanford has a long list of famous alumni members, students are encouraged to connect with employers and alumni through LinkedIn and the Stanford Alumni Directory. Additionally, there are community-based internships both on and off-campus and research opportunities for undergraduates majoring in science and technology.
Located in Ithaca, New York, Cornell has world-famous academic programs, a thriving Greek life, 5 NCAA Division I varsity teams, and a strong ice hockey team.
But not all the fun is on campus. Students also get valuable work experience through internship programs, some of which are specifically designed for freshmen and minorities — such as LGBTQ and historically underrepresented groups — enrolled in engineering, computer science, finance, and consulting. The Cornell Handshake system provides a detailed list of job postings and on-campus recruiting information.
Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon’s Summer Internship Experience Fund pays for undergraduates participating in off-campus, low paying, or unpaid internships. There are also plenty of opportunities for academic research, and students can participate in programs or receive grants or fellowships to support research in their field of study. The university also helps its students to network and expand their connections to land high-paying jobs after graduation.
Rochester Institute of Technology
At Rochester, students have the exciting option to intern abroad through the Global Experiences program — an opportunity that over 6,000 students have taken advantage of so far. Unlike most schools where internships and co-ops are optional, co-ops at Rochester are mandatory for most majors.
Located in West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue’s Interns for Indiana program connects undergraduates to the state’s startups and early stage companies to provide internship opportunities. If you’re looking to widen your horizon, the university’s CLA Global Internship allows students to live and work in another country for a month while earning Purdue credit.
Agnes Scott College
Agnes Scott College is a private liberal arts college for women in Georgia. Of all undergraduates at Agnes Scott, 84 percent participate in internships and many receive funding from the university for unpaid experiences. The resume workshops, recruiter visits, and networking events with alumni that Agnes Scott College hosts all help in securing this university’s place as one of the best colleges for internships.
Located 20 miles north of Boston, there are a number of internship opportunities for Endicott students — including new joiners. Endicott students are required to complete two 120-hour internships: one during the freshman year and the other during the sophomore year. The college also supports travel and transportation costs for students enrolled in semester-long unpaid internships.
George Washington University
George Washington University has over 12,000 yearly internship program opportunities on offer for its undergraduate and graduate students. In addition, the career services section also offers career coaching and self-assessment, and provides assistance with networking and interviewing. The university has a flourishing Greek system and encourages students to undertake outdoor excursions like hiking and kayaking.
First things first, almost all of Bentley’s internships are paid, with salaries ranging between $10 to 18 an hour. This motivates a large population of Bentley students to complete at least one internship a year — 92 percent, to be precise. The university’s Career Services center is a big help too, posting nearly 3,000 college internship opportunities every year.
Clemson undergraduates have worked at over 375 organizations through co-ops including Amazon and ABB. There are also international internship opportunities and off-campus micro-internship programs where students can take up short-term, paid, professional assignments.
At Georgetown University, students gain real-world experience by working with the federal government, the DC government, nonprofits, think tanks, private businesses, news organizations, and museums. Students can also participate in community work with nonprofit organizations in the Washington, DC area.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Worcester Polytechnic Institute is a private institution located in Massachusetts. The Career Development Center at the university offers numerous valuable services and resources to help increase students’ chances of landing an internship. The CDC also assists undergraduates in financing unpaid summer internships through the Summer Experience Grant.
Since internships give you a leg up in the competition, dipping your feet in the professional world before you graduate leaves you with a better chance at scoring that perfect job. After all, a great college internship shows that you are bringing more than just your degree to the table — but experience as well.
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