Nailing the Landing: The Likelihood of Moving from Intern to Employee

Updated: October 26, 2019

Ah, summer. Long days by the pool. Endless iced coffees. Not a care in the world except figuring out your career trajectory and adult life.

More and more, summer is about landing an internship and figuring out your next steps. For some, an internship is a key learning opportunity, meant to broaden horizons or round out resumes. But for most, it’s a direct line to a full-time, post-graduation job offer. It’s the beginning of your career.

For the most part, companies hire interns to build out their talent pipeline. They invest significant time and resources into each intern with the hopes that you’ll bring that knowledge to the post-graduate table and become a permanent member of their team. To put things in context, in 2018, 59 percent of interns were offered a full-time position and 77.3 percent accepted an offer, for a conversion rate of 45.6 percent (as per NACE’s 2018 Internship and Co-op Survey Report).

So, whether you’re planning a summer internship or a school-year one (and we think you’d be wise to consider that second option), you want to really make it count. We sat down and crunched the numbers; here are the top companies, broken down by industry, to intern at if you want to leave with a full-time job.

Bar chart comparing likelihood of converting from intern to full-time employee across industries

Chegg data model

To start, if you really want to get hired post-internship, the industries with the highest intern-to-hire conversion rate are accounting, insurance, and retail. In our analysis, Macy’s took the number one spot, hiring a whopping nine out of ten interns, while high-end retailer Nordstrom also cracked our top five. On the accounting side of things, PwC, known for its prolific (and competitive) internship program, took second place, closely followed by Deloitte in fourth place. Insurance company State Farm came in at number three, while competitor Liberty Mutual Insurance took spot number ten. Rounding out the top ten companies, in order, were McKinsey & Company, Dow, J.P. Morgan, and PepsiCo.

While only two of the Big Four accounting firms made our top ten, KPMG and EY weren’t far behind; both are good bets if you want a full-time offer. If you’re interested in aerospace and defense, Boeing and Northrop Grumman are your best bets, while those who like the wheeling-and-dealing automotive industry should consider internships at General Motors or Ford Motor Company. In addition to J.P. Morgan’s strong intern-to-hire track record, most banking and finance firms have a generally high rate of conversion, so interning at Capital One, Quicken Loans, or BlackRock is a salient move. Within the health care and pharmaceutical sector, Kaiser Permanente and Genetech were most likely to hire their innovative interns. Other companies that are extremely likely to take you from intern to employee include Kohl’s, Cummins, Sherwin-Williams, Unilever, and GE. 

You might be wondering where the headline-catching tech sector lands on this list. The prominent industry doesn’t lend itself to the highest conversion rate, but you can increase your odds of a snazzy tech job by interning at Salesforce or Dell.

Any internship will provide a line item on your resume, and most will give you some valuable experience, but the best ones will serve as the first rung on your career ladder. So, if you’re looking to get a jump start, start applying here. If you get an internship at any of these companies—and don’t spill coffee on the CEO—you could be walking away with a shiny offer letter.