To Intern or Not to Intern: Which Positions Require an Internship?

Dana Guterman
Updated: December 19, 2019

When you were little, perhaps you wanted to be a firefighter. A little older, and it was an artist. Then, a producer. Our career goals are always shifting—and, for many, they’ll continue to change, thanks to having new experiences and developing new skill sets.

The thing is, you don’t have to have it all figured out. If you know what you want to be right now, that’s a great starting point. Since you’re in college, chances are you have some more concrete (and, let’s face it, realistic) career goals in mind—not an ice cream flavor tester, but a sales analyst; not a race car driver, but a paralegal.

For those who have it all figured out, we already looked at whether an internship is advisable for popular job-company pairings. For those of you who know what you want to be, but are open to exploring the possibilities in terms of where you pursue said opportunity, here are the positions where you really need an internship—and those where you can probably succeed without one. And if you know the company you want to work at but not the type of job you want to hold, you can check out our analysis of which companies require an internship.

A little background on the data: All the positions below are for employees with bachelor’s degrees. We’ve selected the most common entry-level job titles based on sheer volume and our internal data, these are the most popular positions for postgraduates.

Employees by job title who have interned

Chegg internal data model

Get an internship:

Certain positions necessitate on-the-ground experience—skills honed through practice or specialized knowledge gained through action. For these roles, you’ll want to have some solid internship experience under your belt before applying. At the top of our list, 86.2 percent of law clerks, across all companies, have done an internship. Other roles in which more than three in four entry-level hires have interned include audit associate (84.5 percent), reporter (81.6 percent), and analyst (77.2 percent). Based on the data, roles in which you may increase your odds of an offer by interning include marketing specialist (73.7 percent), consultant (67.6 percent), graphic designer (65.9 percent), engineer (65.7 percent), research assistant (63.9 percent), and paralegal (63.1 percent).


Go either way:

These roles are flexible, with around half of workers having held an internship prior to getting hired. Sure, in an ideal world, an internship might help your chances, but also, you could be just fine without one. Fifty-five percent of project managers have held an internship, 51.4 percent of retail sales associates, 50.2 percent of recruiters, 50 percent of accountants, and 48.9 percent of administrative assistants.

Get extra credit:

For some roles, internship experience is more of a bonus than a necessity. For the following positions, workers are unlikely to have internship experience: customer service representative (just 38.1 percent have done an internship), pharmacy technician (36.1 percent), bank teller (34.9 percent), real estate agent (31.6 percent), insurance agent (30.6 percent), systems administrator (28.9 percent), and registered nurse (10.9 percent). Additionally, if you’re considering a career as a teacher, most have never done a typical internship. Keep in mind, however, that most certification and degree programs require you to get some hands-on experience as a student-teacher—essentially a teaching internship, but by another name. For substitute teachers, 35.4 percent have held an internship; that number is 32.1 percent for music teachers, 30.6 percent for special education teachers, and 29.5 percent for elementary school teachers.