Summer Vs. Fall Internship -- Which One is Better?

By Joyce Huber

Internships are work-experience programs that let you 'test drive' careers while you are still in college. It not only gives you an opportunity to get a better perspective on careers, but it also gives you valuable experience that you can add to your resume, giving you an edge over other students when it comes time to apply for a full-time job after graduation. It can be an important key to your future.

Timing is very important. While most internships are offered during the summer, there are an increasing amount of internship opportunities available in the fall, too. Which one is better? Is there one that gives you a better on-the-job experience? How can you decide which one is better for you?

These are all very good questions to ask when considering an internship. Here are some key ideas to consider when deciding on the timing of your internship.


There are generally many more summer internships available than fall internships. This gives you more choices when it comes to selecting an internship that is right for you. Summer is also a very good time for an internship because it takes place during the time when most students are not in school.

Further, many of the larger companies offer summer internships with pay, which is a bonus. Microsoft, for example, offers a 12-week summer internship program for software developers that pays over $6K a month. Other high-tech companies have very similar programs. To locate companies that offer the highest-paying internships, visit

Another point to consider is the fact that summer internships allow students more time to focus on the internship, compared to a fall internship, because they do not have to worry about class assignments.

While summer internships are more popular, there is also more competition for them. This means you need to have an excellent academic record in order to make the cut. If not, you may have better results applying to one of the smaller companies offering internships. It can also mean that application deadlines for many summer internships are much sooner since the competition is so fierce. You may need to have your application in by February of the year before in order to meet the deadline.

In addition, there are many internships that require essays, resumes, and personal statements. Students need to be realistic about how much work they can complete during the school year in order to be ready to submit early applications for more competitive summer internships.

Further, while many summer internships offer competitive pay, they may not include reimbursement for travel or lodging. Many college students work during the summer in order to save money for college tuition. If paying for internship travel, lodging and food is going to present a challenge, you may want to work for the summer and save money to help cover unreimbursed internship expenses the following year. Or, you can choose an internship in the fall.


Fall internships have many benefits. Internships offered in the fall have less competition than summer internships, which means you most likely have a better shot at getting one. Some students have reported that they received no responses to their applications for summer internships but ended up getting multiple offers after applying to fall internships.

Fall internships also allow students to enjoy a free summer. Employers may also be more lenient in evaluating students who have no work experience, presenting an opportunity to gain valuable work experience that will make you more competitive when applying for future internships.

On the other hand, fall internships mean you are going to be working while going to school. Some internships require working 2-3 days per week, while others may require 20-40 hours of work. You need to be realistic about how much work you can handle during the school year. Working during school also means more stress, and it may effect how much you are able to focus during the internship.

Fall internships may also cut into your campus social life. Although this may sound unimportant at the time, you want to be able to look back with satisfaction that you enjoyed a full college experience.


Another popular time to look for an internship is in the spring. U.S. News & Word Report stated that they have had as many as 13,000 students apply for 89 summer internships with ESPN. But ESPN also offers a spring internship that has far fewer students applying.

Spring break is the second longest break for most college students, offering a less-stressful internship than fall when school is in full swing. Competition is also less for spring internships that summer, which means you have a better chance of being offered an internship position.

Another benefit is that many companies are not just hiring college students to give them experience. They are grooming students to join their companies as full-time employees once they graduate. This presents an excellent opportunity for employment, avoiding the stress of job searches and interviews after graduation.

Spring is also a time when there are many final exams to prepare for. It may not be an ideal time for many students to consider an internship, especially if you are taking a full load at college. What you don't want to do is jeopardize your GPA because a good GPA is required for most internships, and it is something that employers also look at when deciding among job candidates.

Any internship requires serious academic consideration. Each student's situation is different, so there is no right or wrong time to accept an internship. It has to be timed to work best for the individual student. The National Association of Colleges and Employers states that internships increase students' chance of being offered a full-time job after graduation by 30 percent. So, whether you decide on a summer, fall or spring internship, it's all good!

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