Trends in One-Year, Five-Year Intern Retention Rates

June 09, 2021 | By Kevin Gray – Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals

An illustration of people analyzing data.

One of the benefits of employers converting their interns to full-time hires is evident in employee retention rates.

NACE’s 2021 Internship & Co-op Survey Report shows that, at both the one-year and five-year marks, hires who have interned with the employer (internal interns) are more likely to be retained than hires who interned with other organizations (external interns) and hires with no internship experience.

After one year, internal interns are 16% more likely to be retained than external interns. Furthermore, internal interns are 32% more likely to be retained than new hires who lack internship experience. (See Figure 1.)

Although the gaps narrow somewhat at the five-year mark, they are still substantial: Internal interns are 9% more likely to be retained than external interns and 15% more likely to be retained than those with no internship experience.

While these differentials are meaningful, the retention rates for almost all types of interns and employment durations have dipped in recent years. In fact, all retention rates are down since 2018, and there are just several small fluctuations. Most notably, the retention rate for internal interns hit a high of 71.4% in 2019, but, even then, that bump was less than 1% from 2018 and has dipped nearly 4% since.

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By Amber Graham
Amber Graham Director of Data and Operations