Study Shows Only 30% of RI Employers Host Interns

Yet 91% believe an internship is beneficial on a job applicant’s resume

WARWICK, RI –, a program of the RI Student Loan Authority (RISLA), the Governor’s Workforce Board, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of RI, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Rhode Island’s public colleges and universities, and the RI Partnership Project, released findings of an independent study that demonstrates the importance internships have on hiring decisions, but a relative lack of participation among local employers.

The study, conducted by GreatBlue Research on behalf of, showed that only 30% of Rhode Island employers with more than three employees hosted interns. However, of that same group, 91% of employers felt that internships were either very or somewhat beneficial on a job applicant’s resume. The study shows that employers recognize the valuable role internships play in the preparation of the state’s workforce, but many have yet to come forward to help increase the number of internship opportunities available to students and adults.

RISLA and its partners are aggressively working to develop new internship opportunities as a way to spur job creation and improve the state’s economy. This initiative is fueled by a $100,000 grant from the Rhode Island Foundation as part of the Make It Happen RI campaign.

“We believe many of the barriers employers cited in the study for not providing an internship can be overcome,” said Charles Kelley, Executive Director of Rhode Island Student Loan Authority. “This survey demonstrates there is an enormous opportunity for internship growth in Rhode Island.”

Common reasons cited as barriers keeping employers from hiring interns were they don’t need interns (19.3%), can’t afford to pay an intern (15.6%), and don’t have the time/resources to train or supervise an intern (11.3%). Additional barriers included difficulty finding the right talent, not knowing how to structure an internship, not knowing how to post a listing, or concern about legal issues regarding interns.

Three-fifths of business respondents (60.8%) noted that they were very likely or somewhat likely to offer an internship moving forward if the barrier they noted was able to be overcome. The Governor’s Workforce Board offers a Work Immersion program, which provides matching funds to employers offering paid internship opportunities, and can help remove the barrier of affordability. Meanwhile, offers help overcoming many of the employers’ other concerns.

“ offers employers a breadth of resources to help them with the development of an internship program, including in-person seminars and downloadable guides that demonstrate how employers can attract the right talent,” Kelley said.

Of the respondents who did offer internships, the two most frequently reported reasons for hosting interns were ability to offer educational opportunities for interns (45.1%) and ability to offer workplace experience for interns (35.3%). 26.5% of respondents noted that the ability to recruit and evaluate potential future employees was also a motivator for offering internship opportunities.

“Internships are not just for college students.  Many RI businesses have found excellent employees by offering internships to unemployed workers,” said Rick Brooks, Executive Director of the Governor’s Workforce Board. “Internships give businesses the opportunity to try out prospective employees, while giving unemployed workers a chance to demonstrate their skills and motivation.” When asked, 61% of respondents indicated they would be willing to hire an unemployed adult if the right fit emerged.

“In addition to doing a good deed, it’s good business to hire interns,” stated Janet Raymond, Senior Vice President of Economic Development & Operations at the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. “It can be a wonderful recruitment tool.”

70.5% of respondents noted that internships always, usually or sometimes result in part or full-time employment at the organization.

The campaign was launched to encourage work-based learning for students, youth, and adult learners throughout Rhode Island. The objective of the program is to increase the work readiness, knowledge, and skills of the current and emerging workforce in the state, while giving students and adults greater opportunities to remain in RI and contribute to the state’s economic growth.

However, the study showed employer awareness of is still low, with 87% of respondents noting they were not at all aware of the website. Similarly, 84% of respondents were unaware of the Governor’s Workforce Board Work Immersion program.

“We are hoping these results help make more employers aware of the tools available to help with internship programs, with the ultimate purpose of keeping talent in Rhode Island and growing local businesses,” said Neil Steinberg, President & CEO of RI Foundation.

About is a partnership of the Governor’s Workforce Board, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of RI, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Rhode Island’s public colleges and universities, and the RI Partnership Project.  To learn more about RISLA’s initiative, visit www.bRIdge.Jobs.

About GreatBlue Research

Formerly known as The Center for Research (CFR), the newly rebranded GreatBlue Research, Inc. is a national research organization with over 50 years combined industry experience.  GreatBlue has built a solid reputation for objectivity, accuracy, and responsiveness and is a member of the American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the Market Research Association (MRA).



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