25,000 students voted on the No. 1 internship — and it isn't Google or Facebook

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When researching internships, don't just consider buzzy names such as Google and Facebook. According to career site WayUp, some of the best internships are being offered by companies that students might overlook.  

For the second year in a row, WayUp has reviewed thousands of nominations from college students and recent grads to find out where interns from across the country report top experiences. Nearly 25,000 interns responded this year and their nominations were further analyzed by a panel of independent experts. These panelists reviewed programs based on diversity, uniqueness and the rate of hire after completing the program.

The 2018 Top 100 Internship Programs list included bold-faced names in tech and business, such as Google and Facebook. It also highlighted some companies most students and grads may not yet know, such as cryptocurrency startup Coinbase and established Fortune 500 companies, such as Gallagher, the insurer. The list's top spot went to the internship program from KPMG, one of the "Big 4" audit, tax and advisory service firms which include Deloitte, PwC and EY.

WayUp CEO Liz Wessel tells CNBC Make It that KPMG earned its top distinction thanks to its high conversion rates and a program that allows interns to create their own internship and travel internationally. In a year, the firm takes on approximately 3,300 interns. Most interns at KPMG are paid approximately $24 an hour, according to jobs and salary website Glassdoor.

Of course, KPMG and its internship program is likely well-known to accounting students, but its program and others like it on the Top 100 list can inspire other students and recent grads to better understand the range of companies committed to recruiting new talent. Top 100 companies such as Travelers and John Deere hold conferences specifically for their interns. Other companies such as Chick-fil-A and Lincoln Electric offer opportunities for interns to connect with C-level executives.

Scouring the list can also help students interns focus less on eye-popping perks and more on ways companies are helping interns build careers. Some, like accounting firm CohnReznick, have been known to give interns the same training as entry-level hires, according to Glassdoor.

All programs in the Top 100 list offer some opportunity to get hired — an important factor for any student researching internship programs. Wessel says the rates for converting interns to new hires for programs on the list range from 20 percent to 90 percent. Notably, all companies on the Top 100 internship list also pay their interns.

Wessel adds out that students should use the list to think broadly about the training opportunities available to them at a variety of companies. For instance, those in marketing shouldn't overlook a tech startup or even a construction company, and vice versa. Look instead for programs that interest you and that will give you the guidance, training and introductions that will set you up for your career. After all, the best internship is the one that gives you the best experience.

"Most of these companies are recruiting interns across all departments and fields," Wessel says. "so no matter what type of role you're interested in, there's a strong chance that many of these companies could make for a great intern employer for you."

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