Only 1 in 3 college students getting key work experience they need, according to survey

November 13, 2014  


Ashley Braun, a senior computer science student, works for Indianapolis-based Interactive Intelligence through Purdue’s Pathmaker residential internship program. The program allows students to have internships with leading tech companies while continuing as full-time students. (Purdue University photo/Charles Jischke)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - While college graduates who had on-the-job training or an internship double their odds of being fully engaged at work, only one in three students actually had these important experiences, according to the Gallup-Purdue Index. The findings highlight the importance of internship-related programs at Purdue University and the need to continue development of similar opportunities.

“This data highlights an important opportunity for education leaders to increase the value of a college investment,” Purdue President Mitch Daniels said. “Work and internship experiences that allow students to directly apply what they’ve learned in the classroom must become the expected and typical feature of the new higher ed.”

These findings are based on the Gallup-Purdue Index, a joint-research effort with Purdue University and Lumina Foundation to study the relationship between the college experience and college graduates' lives. The Gallup-Purdue Index is a comprehensive, nationally representative study of 30,000 U.S. college graduates.

In a separate Gallup study, 36 percent of Purdue graduates since 1975 strongly agreed they had an internship that allowed them to apply their learning, compared with 31 percent for all colleges. That percentage increases among those Purdue students graduating over the past four years to 43.4 percent. By a margin of 56 percent to 30 percent, Purdue graduates who report having taken part in an internship that used what they were learning in the classroom are much more likely than others to strongly agree that college prepared them well for life.

Expanding internships and on-the-job training is a priority of Purdue. Among such experiences are Pathmaker, a residential intern program in which Purdue students perform entry-level engineering and computer science jobs for companies while still enrolled as full-time students, and Interns for Indiana, which matches high-quality student interns with Indiana startup companies to help accelerate company growth while providing students with valuable educational experiences.

In addition, the transformation of the College of Technology into the Purdue Polytechnic Institute has the promise to provide broad experiential learning opportunities for students.

The institute will be a hub for consumer-oriented research and will offer a curriculum focused on the science of demand-driven innovation and entrepreneurship. Among key learning opportunities for all students will be a yearlong senior design project that will be sponsored by industry, “study away” experiences that will be focused on meaningful overseas study or high-impact programs in the United States, and semester and summer internship opportunities. Polytechnic students will be guaranteed the chance to earn either an innovation certificate by developing a market-ready product or technology or an entrepreneurship certificate by developing a business plan. 

Related information:

Internship-related programs at Purdue: 

Gallup news release: 


Note to Journalists: Video B-roll of student interns is available for download at For more information, contact Jim Schenke, Purdue News Service, at 765-237-7296,

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