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Perceptions and Practices: Employers, Educators, and Students on GIS Internships

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Within an increasingly competitive job market, academic internships have become an important source of work experience for students with career interests involving geographic information systems (GIS) and related geospatial technologies. However, while GIS internships offer benefits to employers and students, their structure and objectives may be viewed differently across stakeholder groups such as private industry, government, and academia. In this article we evaluate how GIS internships are valued and perceived by employers, educators, and the interns themselves using quantitative and qualitative measures collected though web‐based surveys and semi‐structured telephone interviews. Data analysis helped us determine the relative importance of technical and non‐technical skills needed by students in preparation for GIS internships. Our findings reveal relatively few differences in scores assigned to technical and non‐technical skills when comparing employer and educator ratings. Educator ratings were higher for nearly all technical and non‐technical skills. In comparison, employers placed greater emphasis on technical skills involving data entry/manipulation and non‐technical skills such as flexibility/adaptability. The survey also revealed differences in employer and educator perceptions of internship goals and administration. Telephone surveys with former interns supplemented information from employer and educator surveys in developing “best practices” that may be useful in the design and administration of GIS internships.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2016

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