Internship Benefits Offered by Employers

Dana Guterman
Updated: October 23, 2019

They say there is no such thing as a free lunch, but that’s not always the case. Some internships do indeed provide a gourmet lunch each and every day, while others offer social outings, special trainings, or paid holidays. While these perks certainly have curb appeal, there are also other internship benefits to consider—benefits that tend to cost employers more. These include insurance, retirement plans, and reimbursement.

When you contemplate an internship, you look at a number of factors: relevance, compensation, location, name recognition, growth opportunities, and more. In this article, we’ll use the NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) 2018 Guide to Compensation for Interns and Co-ops and 2018 Internship and Co-op Survey to explore the potential employee benefits offered to interns—and the likelihood that you’ll be able to, well, benefit from them.


The Usual Suspects

First off, let’s look at the benefits interns are most likely to receive. NACE found that over 84% of responding employers offer interns planned social activities. Social outings provide prime networking opportunities, free food, and a change of scenery—so get ready to mix and mingle with your colleagues!

Another popular internship benefit is relocation assistance, with 58% of employers assisting with housing costs and/or travel expenses in some form. Of that 58%, about half provide a lump sum (averaging $2,321 per semester) to offset housing costs, while 33.6% provide employer-rented living facilities—at no cost to the interns. In terms of reimbursing travel costs, 46.6% of employers reimburse for round-trip travel, averaging $1,477 per student per semester.

One more prevalent benefit: just over half of employers offer interns the opportunity to rest and recharge, while paying the bills, with paid holidays. That’s assuming, of course, that you’re doing a paid internship in the first place.


Against the Odds

Since an internship is often your first real-world experience in your chosen field, you’re likely thinking a lot about the future. While retirement might feel impossibly far off, it’s never too early for a 401k plan, and just over 25% of employers offer their interns matching 401ks. And although three-quarters of employers don’t provide this benefit, another 26% offer service time. So, if an intern accepts a full-time offer with an employer, they’ll receive credit towards their 401k, pension, and/or vacation based on the time they already served with the company.

For most interns, insurance is one benefit that’s not on the table. Hopefully, you’re covered under your parents’ plan or enrolled in a student health plan, because less than 18% of employers offer medical insurance, while just 12.2% offer dental. Additionally, given the brevity of most internships, vacation time is unlikely, with 14.8% of employers offering it.

On the least-likely end of the benefit spectrum are scholarships and tuition reimbursement. NACE found that just 6.6% of interns receive scholarships from their internships, and 4.6% receive tuition reimbursement.


A successful internship is all about finding the right fit—about finding that experience that sets you up for career success and meets both your needs and your potential employer’s. As you search for the internship of your dreams, and when you weight the pros and cons of an actual offer, consider the importance of the benefits above to your overall experience.