Suppose you’re only looking up “summer internships” in late January. In that case, you’ll want to pick up the pace because the leading pack of applicants have already started applying back in September.
The internship scene has always been competitive, but 2024 might take the cake.
Between the increasing number of people worldwide holding a bachelor’s or an associate degree, how companies are still laying off employees, and more than half have plans for a hiring freeze in 2024, the future can seem grim.
But even with the hurdles ahead, the struggle to secure summer internships will be more than worth it.
Why you should still be applying for summer internships
First things first, though — why spend your breaks doing summer internships?
Being outside of term time, it’s a productive way to spend the break.
With the limited number of summer breaks you have during your studies, each one is a chance to increase your chances of getting ahead of the pack and securing the best possible career for yourself after graduation.
And how does an internship do that? Well, the most obvious lies in boosting your employability.
- The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) 2021 Internship & Co-op Report shows more employers extending full-time offers to nearly 80% of interns.
- The NACE 2023 Internship & Co-op Report shows that the retention rates for employees who served as interns are higher at the one-year and five-year marks than those who did not engage in such an experience.
- Institute of Student Employers’ (ISE) Development Survey 2023 shows that 72% of employers said graduates with an internship had better skills and attitudes.
- Prospects report that students with work experience felt more prepared for work than those without, as an internship is a prime time for developing skills and confirming career choices.
But improving job prospects aside, it’s the plentiful opportunities to work on stuff you can’t manage in a university setting.
It’s a time to hone or develop your skills, gain professional feedback, and connect with people within the industry, amongst other things.
From a global cybersecurity company, a network and guide for expats worldwide, or a leading online graphic design app, there are internships everywhere for you to seize your chance to do all of the above and more.
Answering your summer internships FAQ
As international students, finding an internship outside your home country may be more challenging.
Not only are companies less willing to hire international students due to visa regulations, but there are also concerns about work hours and if your current accommodation will let you extend your stay over the summer – assuming you’re staying in the same place, that is.
So here are the questions you might find yourself asking and the answers to them:
Q: Does your visa support any internships during your (full-time) studies?
In the UK, the Tier 4 Student visa allows you to work for a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time and full-time outside of term time.
In the US, an F-1 student visa allows you to work during your studies if the position is part of an academic internship; the J-1 visa lets you work part-time from up to 20 hours per week; you are only allowed to work at the educational institution, and the job must be related to the field of study.
In Australia, the Student Visa (Subclass 500) lets you work up to 48 hours every two weeks when your studies or training is in session.
In Canada, a study permit and an intern work permit are required to allow you to work. You also need to meet the following conditions:
- you are required to work to complete your study programme in Canada
- you must submit a letter from your school that confirms all students in your programme need to complete work placements to get their degree; and
- your internship totals 50% or less of your study programme.
If your country isn’t one of the four above, check your university’s and the country’s official immigration rules and regulations for the exact details.
You can also ask your university’s international students’ office for advice on how to go about this matter.
Q: Can you join an internship outside of your home and university country?
Yes, but check your work visa status in the country you’re applying to ensure you have the legal right to work there.
You should also inform and clarify with your university whether your international student status in the university’s country allows you to join internships outside the country.
If you hold a scholarship, it’s good to confirm if you’re allowed to intern.
Q: Is a summer internship considered full-time work?
This is tricky – most internships, particularly summer ones, have a full-time schedule and thus require a full-time commitment to the work.
However, the classification of full-time work varies by companies, universities, and countries, so it is strongly advisable to clarify with the company and your university (who will be more familiar with the country’s laws and regulations) about the commitments the internship requires.
Q: Will taking an unpaid internship affect your employability prospects?
No, taking an unpaid internship will not affect your employability prospects.
While some countries, like the UK, strictly enforce paid internships, interns in other countries are still fighting to ban unpaid internships.
A NACE 2022 survey found that students who had completed a paid internship received, on average, 1.61 job offers after graduating, while unpaid interns averaged 0.94.
Paid interns reported making a median starting salary of US$62,500, while unpaid interns earned a median starting salary of US$42,500.
However, paid and unpaid interns received more job offers than those without internships.
How to find the right summer internship
With your questions answered, it’s time to consider additional questions to help you find the right internship.
The ideal internship hits all the marks, but sometimes, that’s easier said than done.
Setting out your goals for this productive summer internship is important as it keeps you in the right direction, rather than participating just because it looks good on the CV (which it does).
Here are some things to consider:
- What industry will you be going into? The relevance of your study may play a big part in helping secure the position. A computer science student will do better at Google, than at Vogue, for example.
- What specific internship role are you looking for? A digital marketing intern’s job scope will be vastly different from that of a tech engineering intern.
- Is the internship conducted on-site or remotely, or is a hybrid system in place? This will affect the cost of your transport and accommodation, if relocation is necessary, and your overall experience.
- What do you want to get out of it? Sharpening your skills, participating in real-world projects, networking with people in the company – know your priority and if the company is the right place to do it.
7 most popular summer internships of 2024
With more than 70 offices in 50 countries, the tech giant is great for computer science majors and those with design, marketing, and business expertise.
How to apply: Submit a resume with a visible graduation date, including the month and year, and undergraduate or graduate transcripts (in lieu of transcripts, a course list will suffice).
Discover more here.
Amazon has internships available in more than 30 countries, and in 2022, the company had a class of 15,000 total interns, making it the largest batch yet.
How to apply: Create an Amazon Jobs account and apply for the role you’re interested in by filling out the necessary details.
Learn more here.
Awesome, immersive, and fun – that’s how a former Microsoft intern describes the experience. Plus, interns here get an estimated total pay of US$8,386 per month.
How to apply: Upload the necessary information and materials onto Microsoft’s internship page.
Take note that to be considered for the internship, you need to be enrolled full-time as a student majoring in an applicable field and must be returning to your studies for at least a term, semester or quarter following your internship period.
Check out more here.
JPMorgan Chase & Co
The largest bank in the US and the world’s largest bank by market capitalisation as of 2023, figures from 2023 show that an intern reportedly earns a salary of US$13,019 with a US$2,500 relocation bonus.
How to apply: Applications are made via JPMorgan Chase & Co’s website.
Take note that the summer internships are typically for penultimate-year (one more year to your final year) undergraduate students looking to gain work experience in the industry.
Find out more here.
With offices in more than 170 countries, those interested in gaining a new outlook on the world and its possibilities for emerging tech will find the perfect place to do so at IBM.
How to apply: Applications are made via IBM’s website.
Explore more here.
Located in over 190 countries and territories, UNICEF is the ideal organisation to be in if you’re looking to help the most disadvantaged children and adolescents.
How to apply: Applications are made via UNICEF’s website.
Discover more here.
AI Research, tech, product, sales, customer success, and corporate — interns at Salesforce work on real projects that affect how the business runs, allowing you to make a tangible impact on the future of the company.
How to apply: Applications are made via Salesforce’s website.
Learn more here.