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Companies Offering More Benefits to Interns

Interns may be getting more than just experience as a new study shows that more companies are offering benefits packages to attract permanent workers.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has released a new survey that shows a significant increase in interns being offered benefits over the past decade. In 2007, less than 10% of companies surveyed offered a 401k plan, paid vacation time or dental or medical insurance. This year 46.5% of respondents reported offering medical insurance to their interns and 44.2% offered dental insurance. Employers offering 401k plans grew from 8.8% to more than half in the past nine years.

The Affordable Care Act has played a major factor in the rise of health insurance offers over the past year. The law states that paid interns who work full-time (more than 30 hours a week) and are employed at a company with 50 or more employees are entitled to health-insurance benefits. Interns also have to be working full time for about 17 weeks, or 120 days, to be legally entitled. In 2015, 16.7% of companies surveyed offered health insurance to interns – a percentage which almost tripled this year. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that students have taken advantage because the ACA allows students to stay on their parents’ health-care plan until they’re 26 years old.

In terms of recruitment, students respond well to benefits packages. In a NACE survey of nearly 10,000 students graduating from college in 2015, 79% reported that “a good benefits package” is more important than a “high starting salary” and “diversity.” The survey also reported that a company-matched 401k plan ranked fourth in a list of preferred employer benefits, behind tuition reimbursement, the promise of a salary raise and more than two weeks of vacation.

Although the average hourly pay for interns, $17.69, has remained unchanged for seven years, the position seems to be paying off. In 2016, 72% of interns surveyed received job offers at the end of their internships as compared to 58.9% last year.

Taraynn Lloyd, marketing director at Top 40 supplier Edwards Garment Co. (asi/51752), had a social media intern for the summer who was offered a paid internship with a flexible schedule. Lloyd says that it was a limited time-frame internship, so no benefits were offered.

“Young workers really enjoy having the flexibility with their work schedule in order to get things done,” Lloyd says. “She worked 36 hours and she set the days and times she worked. She accomplished a great many projects for Edwards since her primary focus was social media.”

NACE’s 2016 Internship & Co-op Survey is based on responses from 271 organizations, representing more than 20 industries, with internship and/or co-op programs.