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Goodbye interns: How fellowships are changing how we train workers


  • Experts say internship programs can cater to privileged people, and don’t always best prepare participants for the job.
  • Now, companies across industries are turning to fellowships and apprenticeships to better prepare entry-level talent.
  • US employers posted 145% more fellowship job openings in the last year, and listings for apprenticeships grew 131% between 2017 to 2018, according to ZipRecruiter.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Last year, Kayla Usmani worked at Accenture, one of the country’s largest consulting firms, for an apprenticeship program — an alternative to their internship.

Usmani wasn’t grabbing coffee and performing mindless busywork typical to traditional internship programs. Instead, she was working for months honing in her computer science skills to eventually land her a job at the company.

Unlike traditional interns, Usmani wasn’t getting paid peanuts and relying on mom and dad to help her out. In fact, she’d been jumping around foster homes and hadn’t finished college before the program — a rarity in elite internship programs

Usmani called the program “life changing” and said she would not have been able to get a job at a top company like Accenture without the apprenticeship program.

“Everything that I’m learning, like the new technology, and being able to have the support that I have now, I don’t know if I would have gotten that anywhere else,” she said.

As internship programs continue to get bad press — and even sued — for underpaying young workers, alternative options like apprenticeships and fellowships are rising to fill the gaps. (Business Insider itself recently switched its internship program to a higher paying, more specialized fellowship.)

Read more: 20 high-paying jobs you can get with just an associate degree

The exact responsibilities for these recently prominent “ships” vary, but they typically last longer, are higher paying, and provide more in-depth job training than traditional summer internships.

And they’re growing in popularity: US employers have posted 145% more fellowships in the past nine months than all of 2018, according to an exclusive report that job-marketplace site ZipRecruiter drafted for Business Insider. The average listings for apprenticeships per month grew 131% between 2017 and 2018.

“The word ‘fellowship’ applies greater academic prestige; it also typically implies higher pay,” Julia Pollak, a labor economist at ZipRecruiter, told Business Insider. “It makes sense that there are more fellowships than internships in a tight labor market because employers need to do more to attract more talent.”

At a time when companies are considering diversity and inclusion efforts, plus preparing their entry-level talent for the ever-changing future of work, fellowships, apprenticeships, and other alternative internship programs are leading the charge. 


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