The Best Companies for Internships



Bates White’s approach – which can be described as inclusive, challenging, and even fun – is exactly what students are seeking from internships. In an interview with Poets&Quants, Philip Stott, the consulting editor at Vault, observes that “The firms that rank the highest are typically those that give their interns the most real-life work. That is, the type of work they would be doing as an entry-level full-time hire.” However, interns’ expectations are shifting according to Stott. “Interns these days, as opposed to those, say, five years or so ago, want to make a meaningful impact on the firm they work for, as well as learn as much as possible — they want real work and to be treated like a full-time hire.”

For example, one student who participated in the Anadarko Petroleum Summer Internship Program, ranked as the top program in the energy field, touted their ability to make a difference on their own terms. “The people that we had the opportunity to work with were so knowledgeable and easy to relate to, and this made coming into work each day an absolute joy. The projects we were given to complete provided real value to the company, and we were allowed to complete them in our own way, while still knowing that our mentors were available and more than happy to help us.”

That said, real world skills were still key to respondents. One student who completed an internship with Northwestern Mutual, ranked #1 in the financial services sector, loved how the internship complemented class work. “The training is fantastic. Learning about such important topics like financial planning, budget analysis, and running a business can’t be replaced. Whether or not interns go full time with the company, they’ll be better people and more employable after the internship.”


While many interns hope to pad their resume over the summer, many also come away with greater professional polish and a broader perspective. For example, an intern who completed AT&T’s highly-regarded Finance Leadership Program, relayed how her internship taught her to communicate with executives. “My supervisor really made sure I was ready for the end-of-the-internship presentation/interview by having me practice my presentation in front of my team, the assistant vice president, and even other departments. I learned so much during my internship that I didn’t even expect to.”

Intern 3

Interns also soaked up their firm’s cultures, whether they were egalitarian or competitive. For example, one intern found a home in Evercore’s Advisory Summer Analyst and Associate Program, Vault’s top-ranked internship for the investment banking sector. “Firm culture was absolutely amazing – no face time and no senseless work. Junior employees (interns, analysts, and associates) were all very willing to help cover each other’s work when conflicts came up. There’s just a huge collaborative atmosphere at work, so over the summer I was never worried about ‘competing’ with other interns. And I definitely see how this culture really flows through the entire firm.”

At the same time, students bonded with fellow interns and employees. For example, Kohl’s Information Technology Internship program provides apartment dorms to students, with an intern noting that such arrangements “make it easy for you to find a group of people who become your closest friends.” And interns connected with their work peers too. “The support I received from my supervisor and colleagues was amazing,” writes an AT&T Finance Leadership intern. “Even people who didn’t work on my team were very invested in my success and helped me in any way they could. I also really liked that there were six other interns in my group as well as about 20 general management interns that I got to know, collaborate with, and form friendships with.”

Elliott Davis


While Bates White earns this year’s headlines, Elliott Davis’ ENVISION internship program came close to nabbing the top spot. Just .040 behind Bates White, Elliott Davis, a Charlotte-based Top 50 CPA firm, distinguished itself by preparing students for a high level position according to one intern. “The experience gained from this internship is parallel to none. Elliott Davis doesn’t make you go out and get coffee or make copies or do any of the other jobs that don’t give you accounting experience. Instead, Elliott Davis throws you into the world of accounting with staff level work that you will be doing when you get out of college, which is what all college graduates need in an internship.”

Rounding out the top five were Frank, Rimerman + Co. LLP’s Summer Internship, Bain & Company Associate Consultant Intern and Summer Associate programs, and Northwestern Mutual Internship. Frank Rimerman + Co. was new to the top 50 this year, as were 10 of the top 20 internship programs, which stems from Vault expanding its rankings from 25 to 50 firms. Bain & Company, which ranked #1 in Vault’s first internship ranking in 2013, fell to #4.

Surprisingly, last year’s #1 – BP’s National Internship Program – dropped to #41. Stott attributes this to larger company issues. “On BP, the major change we saw in the data year-over-year was in terms of employment prospects. This year, BP went through a restructuring… I do know that the levels of intern-to-full-time hiring were greatly reduced–and many of the interns didn’t realize that would be the case until they were actually working there. So on one hand, the disappointment of that weighed on the employment prospect score. And on the other, I’m sure that being in a company that had been or was in the process of downsizing…weighed on overall morale and affected some scores in other areas.”

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.