UArizona Graduating Senior Survey Reveals the Importance of Internships, Especially for Underrepresented Students

Nov. 2, 2021

UArizona Student Engagement & Career Development administers the Graduating Senior Survey to all UArizona graduating seniors and discusses the importance of internships in landing a job.


Each year, UArizona Student Engagement & Career Development administers the Graduating Senior Survey to all UArizona graduating seniors, in effort to understand career destinations after graduation, as well as student satisfaction with their college education. Recently shared results from the 2019-20 survey emphasize the importance of internships in landing a job after graduation, especially for students demographically underrepresented in college.


Students who completed an internship were nearly 2x times more likely to report full-time employment after graduation than students who did not report completing an internship. However, an internship was even more significant in the likelihood of employment for students in certain demographic groups, as detailed in the table to the right.

Additionally, when asked, “Which experience was most valuable to your career preparation?” more than 1 out of 3 (36%) UArizona graduating seniors identified an internship they engaged in during their undergraduate years. Of these students, 51% described their internship as paid and 49% reported having an unpaid internship. Nationally, data suggests that racial/ethnic minorities, women, and first-generation students are underrepresented in paid internships. This same national study also suggests that paid internships are more likely to correlate with employment after graduation, as they are taken more seriously on resumes and in letters of recommendation.

From this data, we recognize that internships are an important factor in employment, especially for students of marginalized demographic groups. However, students of these same groups are more likely to have unpaid internships during their college career, potentially increasing their stress and financial debt. Providing meaningful paid internships to students with underrepresented identities is one of the key strategies that Earth Grant employs to prepare the next generation of resilience leaders.

About the Graduating Senior Survey: Students may take the survey from 2 months prior graduation to 2 months after graduation, and may update their responses during this survey window if their situation changes. For the 2019-20 survey, 42% (n=2,959) graduating seniors responded, a significantly lower response rate compared to recent years, likely due to general pandemic-related disruptions. However, the statistics shared above are similar to what was reported in the 2018-19 survey, which had a 71% response rate.

Thank you to UArizona Student Engagement & Career Development for collecting, compiling, and sharing this data.



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