Internships help community college grads’ job prospects

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Associate-degree students with internships related to their studies are much more likely than those without such opportunities to have good job prospects upon graduation, according to a new study.

Forty percent of recent associate-degree graduates who had a relevant job or internship while in school had a good job waiting for them after graduation, according to the study by Gallup-Strada.

That’s compared to 16 percent of those with a job or internship that was not relevant to their field of study who had a good job waiting for them. Those without a job or internship fared the worst, with only 6 percent saying they had a good job upon graduation, according to a summary of the study, which polled 2,548 U.S. adults in 2015 who said an associate degree was their highest level of education.

Despite the promising ties to jobs, only a fifth of two-year college graduates strongly agree they had a job or internship relevant to their studies during school; slightly more than half disagreed or strongly disagreed.

“Two-year colleges should consider the value of an increased emphasis on internships for their students as a supplement to their academic curriculum,” according to a summary of the study. “By focusing more on internships, community colleges can prime their graduates to obtain good jobs related to their field of study upon graduation.”

More engaged at work, too

Nearly two-thirds of two-year-degree graduates who strongly agreed they had a relevant internship or job during school say their current job is completely related to their academic program, according to the summary. By comparison, fewer than three in 10 graduates who had a job or internship during school that was not relevant to their studies are now in jobs related to their field of study, a percentage almost identical to the one for those who had no job or internship at all.

The study also found that graduates in jobs that are related to what they studied in school are much more likely than others to be engaged at work. About half of two-year-degree graduates who have jobs related to their field of study are now engaged at work, compared to 19 percent of graduates with jobs unrelated to their field of study.

“Gallup has consistently found that companies with engaged employees see lower absenteeism, higher productivity and more profit,” the report said. “In the U.S. more broadly, about 33 percent of the workforce is engaged at work.”

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