Access to and Returns from Unpaid Graduate Internships

38 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2017


We use the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Survey (DLHE) to estimate the socio-economic gradient in access to unpaid internships among English and Welsh graduates six months after completing their first degree, and the return to this internship experience 3 years later in terms of salary, occupation, contract type and career satisfaction. We show a significant salary penalty at 3.5 years after graduation compared with those going straight into paid work or further study, but also that graduates from higher socio-economic status have an advantage in accessing internships while being significantly insulated from their negative effects.

Keywords: higher education, internships, human capital, job satisfaction

JEL Classification: J24, J28, J31

Suggested Citation

Holford, Angus, Access to and Returns from Unpaid Graduate Internships. IZA Discussion Paper No. 10845, Available at SSRN: or

Angus Holford (Contact Author)

University of Essex ( email )

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