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Vol. 3 No. 6
Strategic National Arts Alumni Project
DataBrief provides arts educators and arts policy makers
with highlights of SNAAP data and insights
into the value of arts-school education.
Contact us for more information.

Spotlight On: The Internship Divide for Recent Graduates

SNAAP is out with a new report on internships that suggests that paid internships are more effective than unpaid internships in leading to professional success.

The 2015 Special Report, The Internship Divide: The Promise and Challenges of Internships in the Arts, details findings from nearly 68,000 individuals with undergraduate degrees in the arts from 140 institutions in the U.S. Alumni were surveyed between 2011 and 2013.

The Special Report is an outgrowth of findings in DataBrief, Vol. 3 No.1 published in January 2015.

This DataBrief (Vol. 3 No. 5) focuses on recent graduates: the 10,000+ SNAAP respondents from 140 institutions who received a bachelor’s degree between 2009 and 2013.

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Uneven Rewards: Paid vs. Unpaid

A majority (69%) of recent graduates have done internships. And, alumni who interned during school spend a majority of their time working in the arts (59% versus 45%).

However, paid internships yield more substantial career rewards than unpaid internships.

Key findings:

  • 84% of recent graduates who had a paid internship reported greater overall satisfaction with their current jobs, compared to 77% for those who were not paid interns.
  • 89% of recent graduates with paid internships found work within one year of graduation, compared to 77% for alumni who were never paid interns.
  • 64% of recent graduates who had paid internships reported satisfaction with income versus 55% of those who were never paid interns.
  • Conversely, alumni who did an unpaid internship were only slightly more likely (83%) than those who were never unpaid interns (81%) to secure work within one year of graduation.

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Intern Equity Issues

The study bears out concerns that gender, race and socioeconomic status have an influence on the ability of graduates to take advantage of internships.

  • Women (57%) are considerably more likely than men (46%) to do (less beneficial) unpaid internships.
  • White and Asian graduates are more likely to do paid internships than Black and Hispanic/Latino graduates; conversely, Whites are least likely to do unpaid internships.
  • First-generation college students are less likely than non-first-generation students to have been interns while enrolled in school (51% percent compared to 56%).
  • 75 percent of recent alumni who interned while in school indicated that parents or family helped pay for their education; fewer recent alumni (67%) who did not intern while in school received such support.
Taken together, the report calls attention to this important divide: paid internships are tied to considerable career rewards, yet groups at a historical economic disadvantage such as women, Blacks, Hispanic/Latinos, and first-generation college graduates hold a disproportionate number of unpaid internships, which appear to be far less beneficial. Educators must lead in ensuring a more formalized, meritocratic, and therefore more equitable intern economy.

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SNAAP Deadline Extended by Popular Demand!

The registration deadline for SNAAP 2015 has been extended by two weeks to July 31, 2015.

Participation in SNAAP is open to all degree-granting colleges and universities. This year, schools can enroll in either a one-year survey administration or elect a three-year membership. View our Invitation to Participate and contact SNAAP staff for more information: 812-856-5824 or

In addition to the core questionnaire, institutions can select one or two topical modules that delve into the issues of internships and career skills and entrepreneurship.

Thanks to Alexandre Frenette, principal author of The Internship Divide: The Promise and Challenges of Internships in the Arts for this DataBrief.

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