Internship Satisfaction

Topics: Job satisfaction, Employment, Intern Pages: 31 (9873 words) Published: June 22, 2013
Academy of Management Learning & Education, 2009, Vol. 8, No. 4, 527–539.

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Making the Most of an Internship: An Empirical Study of Internship Satisfaction CAROLINE P. D’ABATE Skidmore College MARK A. YOUNDT Skidmore College and University of Vermont KATHRYN E. WENZEL Caturano and Company Since internships are becoming more widely used as learning tools for students to help fill the gap between classroom learning and the practice of business, it is important to understand what aspects of these experiences make them the most worthwhile. This study assessed satisfaction of interns by looking at three broad factors (i.e., job characteristics, work environment characteristics, and contextual factors), which may contribute to internship satisfaction. Our results indicate that characteristics of the job (specifically, task significance and feedback) and characteristics of the work environment (in particular, learning opportunities, supervisor support, and organizational satisfaction) were the best predictors of internship satisfaction. These findings can assist business schools, faculty, students, and host companies in making a key developmental experience, internships, as satisfying as possible.

........................................................................................................................................................................ Despite the reality that business departments and schools focus on the professional development of their students, how well we prepare our students for the “real world” of business has been questioned. Over a decade ago, for example, Wren, Buckley, and Michaelsen (1994: 141) noted that even though management education’s “mission is primarily to prepare people to practice their skills in the business world,” we have fallen short in “producing managers who are equipped for the practice of management.” It appears little has changed over the past decade, as several recent articles (e.g., Pfeffer & Fong, 2002; Starkey & Tempest, 2005) raise similar concerns regarding the relationship between classroom learning and actual business practices and, thus, continue to issue a call “for management education to be more grounded in management practice” (Ashkanasy, 2006: 207). A parallel sentiment is emerging in BizEd, AACSB’s publication on management and business education, where numerous authors write that practical, experiential-learning activities are necessary to give students firsthand skill develop527 Copyright of the Academy of Management, all rights reserved. Contents may not be copied, emailed, posted to a listserv, or otherwise transmitted without the copyright holder’s express written permission. Users may print, download or email articles for individual use only.

ment, insights, and knowledge they cannot get through the classroom alone (“A Mentor Program,” 2007; Bisoux, 2007; Posner, 2008; “The Future is Now,” 2008). While the call for applied learning activities in management and business programs has been both pervasive and quite vocal, Navarro’s (2008) recent web survey of 50 top business schools found that only a small number include experiential learning in their core curricula. As a result, he urges business schools to innovate their core curricula to include more experientiallearning activities, such as live projects and internships as prescribed in the literature, which force students to engage in “real-world problem solving” (2008: 108). It is important to note, however, that it’s not that management and business students are not engaging in internships, it’s just that the majority of these internships are not systematically integrated into the formal learning experience. In fact, a Vault (2000) survey of 1,004 college seniors found that 77% of the students completed at least one...

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Caroline D’Abate is assistant professor of management at Skidmore College, where she teaches organizational behavior, human resources, and introductory business. She is active in research on developmental interactions, work/nonwork life realms, and related topics. D’Abate holds a PhD in Organizational Studies from the School of Business, University at Albany, SUNY. Mark Youndt received his PhD in management and organization from Pennsylvania State University and currently teaches at Skidmore College. He frequently lectures in executive education programs, and his research activities center on the intersections of strategy, intellectual capital, innovation, and competitive advantage. Kathryn Wenzel is a senior associate at Caturano and Company, where she works in the firm’s assurance group and is responsible for providing audit services to both public and private companies. Wenzel holds an MBA and an MSA in accounting from the Graduate School of Professional Accounting, Northeastern University.
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