Last week, I talked with an enterprising college senior who managed to wrangle five agency interviews during his 24-hour visit to Chicago.  That feat alone is impressive and merits kudos, but his final question at each interview is the subject of this post.

His question: “What percentage of interns move into full-time positions here?”   Answers to this question tell you the odds of potential future employment at various agencies.   

After hearing this insightful question, I decided to do an informal check with five agencies that hire many of the interns in the Chicago market.  Hiring rates during or after the traditional two 3-month internship stints range from 40% to 90%, although a second individual at the firm reporting the higher number said the figure is closer to 80%.  Still, that’s a great retention rate.  Therefore, someone seeking an internship that might lead to a full-time job can better determine which agency to pursue.  

Internships vary widely in most markets.  Some big Chicago firms have as few as two interns currently, while others have nearly 20.  A few firms offer summer-focused internships, but most do intern hiring year round based on workloads.  A majority of internships are for college graduates and grad students, although some agencies still hire undergrads for summer internships—many of which aren’t paid.  My rule of thumb:  If the agency is billing your time to a client, you should get paid for the work.

Oh, yes, about those five interviews in 24 hours.  The enterprising senior tapped his PRSSA network of friends who knew people within four of the agencies.  His intern-rich resume and PR-related volunteer efforts opened the fifth door.