Less Competition, Less Problems (Internships)

Updated: September 9, 2020

First things first: we know the correct title should be “Less Competition, Fewer Problems,” but this is a case of artistic license.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the issue at hand. The long days of summer are just around the corner, you spent all of March and April applying to three dozen internships at top-tier companies, and you didn’t land your dream job. Why? Well, there are a lot of possible reasons, but a big one is simply that you’re facing stiff competition when it comes to summer internships! In 2018, Under Armour had 98 internship positions available; they received over 17,000 applications. That’s a 0.56% chance of getting an internship! So sure, you might be awesome, but so are the other 172 students competing for that single coveted spot.

Here’s the good news: there’s an easy way to leave the competition behind, and that’s by facing less competition.

A classic summer internship is hard to resist, but you can get that same experience with a spring or fall internship—and you won’t be battling nearly as many of your peers for the privilege. As you can see from our Internship-Application Cycle graph below (based on Chegg Internship postings), summer is indeed the standard time for internships, with May being the most popular time to start. You’ll see that the highest application activity occurs two to three months before summer internships begin. However, almost as many internships start in January (in internship land, that’s spring), and there’s no flurry of applications in November or December. So, if you’re willing to take on a non-summer internship, you’ll be up against way less competition.

The Internship-Application Cycle

Graph comparing when internships start and when applications are submitted

Chegg data model

Now, let’s look at those other numbers: More than 11% of internships begin in September (fall), and a whopping 13% kick off in January. And yet a scant 9.4% of candidates apply to internships in November and December combined! So, if you apply to those three dozen internships in less-popular November, rather than in cool-kid April, you’re increasing your odds by a lot. Getting a fall internship is slightly more popular, but still ups your odds of an offer greatly. For the 11% of internships starting in September, less than 12% of applications are completed in the previous two months.

And sure, spring or fall internships mean you’ll be balancing coursework and work-work, but many companies understand that and offer virtual or part-time programs. Many even offer school credit. So regardless of whether you’re reading this in August, AC blasting and summer days dwindling, or in December, drinking hot cocoa and wondering how to make the most of your spring semester, it’s time to turn on your laptop and apply to those open internships! A few months from now, you could be anywhere.