July 2019

IZA DP No. 12478: Do Internships Pay Off? The Effects of Student Internships on Earnings

forthcoming in: Journal of Human Resources

This paper studies the causal effect of student internship experience in firms on earnings later in life. We use mandatory firm internships at German universities as an instrument for doing a firm internship while attending university. Employing longitudinal data from graduate surveys, we find positive and significant earnings returns of about 6% in both OLS and IV regressions. The positive returns are particularly pronounced for individuals and areas of study that are characterized by a weak labor market orientation. The empirical findings show that graduates who completed a firm internship face a lower risk of unemployment during the first year of their careers, suggesting a smoother transition to the labor market.