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Effects of business internships on job marketability: the employers' perspective

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Purpose ‐ This paper seeks to report the results of an empirical investigation of the relationship between internship participation and student employment marketability. The study aims to identify the value that employers attribute to internships as a qualification for employment and as a factor in determining compensation. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The study presents the results of a survey of 185 employers of 392 interns enrolled in an AACSB-accredited business college in a Northeastern US university. The survey examined the perceived value of the internship experience, the effect of intern performance on internship value perceptions, and the relationship between internship participation and employer selection and compensation decisions. Findings ‐ The survey results indicate significantly more full-time opportunities for undergraduates with internship experience, corroborating earlier published empirical research. Additionally, while even average-performing interns were significantly more likely to receive full-time job offers than non-interns, high-performing interns were more likely to receive higher starting salaries. Finally, the study shows that high intern performance results in enhanced employer-perceived value of the internship program. Originality/value ‐ Field internships are endorsed by business schools as an effective way to gain practical experience and enhance employment marketability. However, few studies have provided empirical evidence linking internship participation to success in postgraduation employment. The study confirms the value of an internship in job marketability. In addition, the study provides an estimate of the perceived value of internship experience in employee compensation. Finally, the paper affirms the internship as a component of experiential learning that can enhance the employability development opportunities offered by institutions of higher learning.

Keywords: Employment; Experience; Learning; Performance levels

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00400911011017690

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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