Perceptions of college internship coordinators: services and practices that most effectively facilitate internships of academic and professional value
California State University, Northridge. Department of Education Leadership And Policy Studies
Roberts, William W.
Durdella, Nathan R.
Keywordsresume cover letter
employer relations outreach
services and practices
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AbstractIncludes bibliographical references (pages 107-116)
When managed effectively, internships can be valuable experiences for students, employers, and colleges (Keller, 2012; Kuh, 2008; Sides & Mrvica, 2007; Sweitzer & King, 2004). However, concerns about the academic and professional value of internships can be found in research, as well as in the daily experiences of those participating in internships (Keller, 2012; Kuh, 2008; Metzger, 2002; Spann, 1994). College internship coordinators are theoretically best suited to play pivotal roles in facilitating valuable internships because their practices directly influence student and employer experiences (Jones, 2007; Metzger, 2002; Miller, 1997; Reitter, 2009; Ross, 1985; Spann, 1994). Yet, internship research has focused primarily on experiences of students and employers (Garavan & Murphy, 2001; Reitter, 2010; Spann, 1994), with minimal exploration of internship coordinators (Jones, 2007; Metzger, 2002; Miller, 1997; Reitter, 2009; Ross, 1985; Spann, 1994). Thus the purpose of this study was to explore what internship coordinators perceive as the services and practices of college internship programs that most effectively facilitate internships of academic and professional value. This qualitative study investigated the following research questions: What services and practices do college internship programs use to most effectively facilitate internships?, How do college internship programs use these services and practices to most effectively facilitate internships?, and What factors support or constrain the use of these services and practices in college internship programs? To explore these research questions, an online survey and individual interviews were conducted. One hundred and fifty-four internship coordinators completed the survey and four internship coordinators participated in one-on-one interviews. Data were analyzed for the predetermined areas of preparation, contracting, evaluation, and outreach services. Survey responses were assigned to a descriptive category and tallied to determine what coordinators perceived to be the most effective services in each area. Interviews were analyzed for key themes related to the practices of these most effective services. A descriptive case summary for each of the four most effective services was then developed to describe the key similarities and differences in the practices. Additionally, supports and constraints for the services and their practices were discovered. Survey respondents identified assisting with resume/cover letter writing as the most effective preparation service, developing learning contracts/agreements as the most effective contracting service, conducting student/employer evaluations as most effective evaluation service, and developing employer relations as the most effective outreach services. To conduct these services, internship coordinators worked in cross-functional teams, built collaborative relationships, utilized technology, and sought new ways to promote and deliver their services. Additionally, internship coordinators identified faculty/employer/alumni collaborations, technology, and fellow staff members as supports. Coordinators noted time constraints, budget constraints, and low staff-to-demands ratios as their greatest constraints. The findings of this study suggest internship coordinators decide what services to conduct based on the service???s effectiveness and implement practices based on efficiency, given the supports and constraints of their campuses and communities. As the connection between students and employers, college internship coordinators are key players in what services are offered and what practices are implemented to deliver these services. This study was an initial step to tap into services and practices that can assist college internship coordinators in their efforts to effectively and efficiently facilitate internships of academic and professional value.