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by Cathy Vandewater | October 23, 2012


Internships are tricky. You know you should have one, but you've also heard that they can go off the rails, specifically to unpaid-menial-labor-land. You might not want to waste your winter break on an internship that doesn't give you any new skills or training. Or maybe your biggest fear is investing time and energy into a company name won't pop on your resume.

Maybe you're just fulfilling a program requirement for school—it which case cushy perks are your priority. Or maybe you're not sure about your chosen field and need as much exposure to the industry as possible.

Whatever you're in the market for, Vault's here to help: with the right information, you can find an internship that's well organized, well respected, or even well paid!

We've done the hard work, surveying real interns about their goals, experiences, and needs--then asking them to rank their internships in categories like training, mentorship, industry and career insight, meaningful assignments, access to upper management, and compensation.

The results are a list not just of the top internships overall for 2012, but the leading programs specifically in the fields of finance and non-profit, and those with the best perks (social events, seminars, lectures, workshops, and maybe a trip or two to MTV studios!).

Here are a few of the big winners:

Bain & Company

Bain made our list of best internships of 2012, thanks to excellent full-time offer prospects (10/10, according to interns we surveyed). And though they also topped our perks rankings, rest assured that Bain isn't low on substance: one intern wrote that "The amount of responsibility I received is unbelievable, and as a result, I have learned a lot.”

Goldman Sachs

Looking for an authentic taste of the finance industry? Goldman's your best bet for real world experience: interns rated it 9.09 out of 10 for potential career path insight. This top finance internship was also a career booster: "This was perhaps the most interesting, challenging and career-propelling move of my life," said one intern.

Actors Theatre of Louisville

Dollars and cents not really your thing, but still looking to get ahead? The Actors Theatre of Louisville topped our list of non-profit internships thanks to its networking opportunities. One survey-taker said that “The mentors that I acquired during my time there have remained incredibly useful to me even after my time in the internship." Others surveyed ranked the theatre 9.67 out of 10 for its career-advancing connection opportunities.

Nickelodeon Animation Studios

Wants connections without sacrificing perks? Nickelodeon offers its interns weekly lunches—that means food and a chance to chat up an executive. Other insider perks: trips to events, film festivals, and MTV Studios, plus access to entry level job postings before they get published on the website.

Want more? Find Vault's full list of Top Internships 2012 here.

--Cathy Vandewater,

Read More:
3 Lessons for Interns From the First Chapter of "Why I Left Goldman Sachs"
What It Takes to Join a Top Wall Street Bank
Advice for New Grads from T. Boone Pickens


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