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The 15 best companies to intern for, according to interns

Every year, millions of young people hold paid and unpaid internships — and for good reason. Internships have the potential to provide students with valuable hands-on experience, mentorship connections and future career opportunities. But not all internships are created equally.

Under the Obama Administration, the Department of Labor required that unpaid internships benefit the intern more than the company. In January, the Trump administration announced new guidelines that roll back these protections, making it easier for companies to not pay interns and offer them less valuable experiences.

This means that it is more important than ever that interns do their research when deciding where to work. Job site Indeed recently analyzed data from over 72 million worker reviews in order to better understand what sets great internship programs apart from the rest. They found that at 15 companies, interns reported having the best and most valuable experiences.

Here are the 15 top-rated workplaces for internships, with ratings out of a possible five points:

A UPS Boeing 747 jet.
Source: Boeing
A UPS Boeing 747 jet.

15. UPS

Intern rating: 3.80

14. Target

Intern rating: 3.81

13. Chick-fil-A

Intern rating: 3.82

12. Kohl's

Intern rating: 3.87

11. Amazon

Intern rating: 3.90

A man checks his phone as he walks past Macy's flagship store in New York City.
Getty Images
A man checks his phone as he walks past Macy's flagship store in New York City.

10. Macy's

Intern rating: 3.92

9. The Home Depot

Intern rating: 3.93

8. Burlington Stores

Intern rating: 3.94

7. Lowe's

Intern rating: 3.94

6. Starbucks

Intern rating: 3.99

5. YMCA

Intern rating: 4.06

4. Walgreens

Intern rating: 4.08

3. Northwestern Mutual

Intern rating: 4.10

2. The Walt Disney Company

Intern rating: 4.14

1. Kaiser Permanente

Intern rating: 4.24

Chief executive officer and chairman of The Walt Disney Company Bob Iger and Mickey Mouse look on before ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, November 27, 2017 in New York City.
Getty Images
Chief executive officer and chairman of The Walt Disney Company Bob Iger and Mickey Mouse look on before ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, November 27, 2017 in New York City.

Kaiser Permanente ranked first among interns with a score of 4.24 out of five. The healthcare organization also was ranked the fourth best companies for work-life balance. Entertainment company Walt Disney came in second and financial services company Northwestern Mutual took third place.

While the top-ranking companies come from a wide range of industries, they all have one very important thing in common — they pay their interns. It makes sense that interns would prefer programs that offer compensation and that's also backed by data. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reports that students who held unpaid internships actually were less likely to have a job after graduation. Paid interns, on the other hand, receive more job offers and earn higher starting salaries when they graduate.

Not only do unpaid internships not improve employment outcomes, they can also be expensive for students who cannot live at home or be supported by their families. CNBC Make It estimates that if you consider the earnings unpaid interns are missing out on and how much they have to spend to live in expensive cities with large intern populations, an unpaid internship can cost as much as $12,986.

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