Running head: SUCCESSFUL INTERNSHIPS
Predicting Successful Internships
Fred Beard, Ph.D.
University of Oklahoma
Linda Morton, Ed.D.
University of Oklahoma
Please direct all correspondence to the principal author: School of Journalism
and Mass Communication, 860 Van Vleet Oval, University of Oklahoma, Norman,
Oklahoma 73019. Phone: (405) 325-5279; e-mail: [log in to unmask]
Predicting Successful Internships
Although previous research suggests the characteristics of successful interns
and internships, little research has attempted to examine the relationships
between them and specific outcomes. The results of a canonical correlation
analysis indicates that all the predictors are correlated with successful
outcomes; that the predictors account for approximately one-half the variance in
successful internships; and that the effectiveness of an intern's worksite
supervisor is the single most important predictor of internship success.
Predicting Successful Internships
Internships have become a necessity for mass communication students making the
transition from college to career. Researchers note this necessity: Kosicki
and Becker (1995) report that 80% of journalism and mass communication (JMC)
undergraduates serve as interns. Rowland (1994) found that an internship is the
"deciding factor" for most entry-level jobs, and Horowitz (1997) found that
students' assessments of their internship quality is a significant predictor of
future job satisfaction.
Mass communication programs recognize this necessity, with most assisting
students in locating internships (Basow & Byrne, 1993) and many offering
academic credit. The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass
Communications (ACEJMC) recognizes the legitimacy of internship credit, allowing
credit for up to 10 percent of a student's course work (ACEJMC, 1997). However,
there is little empirical evidence to assess the quality of internships, to
provide schools with predictors of quality internships, or to determine the
relative importance of various predictors in assuring successful internships.
This study deals with such evidence. Its purpose is to assess the relationship
between two sets of linearly related variables: predictors of internship
success and outcomes of successful internships. The characteristics of
advertising and public relations (PR) interns and their internships are used as
predictors. Intern evaluations of the success of their internships are used as
outcomes, or criterions. Focusing on the nature and strength of the
relationships between predictors and outcomes, this study seeks to determine
what needs to occur during an internship in order for beneficial outcomes to be
Six important predictors of internship success are suggested in the literature.
These include the following: (a) academic preparedness, (b)
proactivity/aggressiveness, (c) positive attitude, (d) quality of worksite
supervision, (e) organizational practices and policies, and (f) compensation.
Academic preparedness. Several researchers note that the most successful
interns are well prepared academically (Basow & Byrne, 1993; Beard, 1997;
Campbell & Kovar, 1994). For many programs, academic preparation includes a
specific number of completed credits, including a number of mass communication
courses with an acceptable grade point average. Bourland-Davis, Graham & Fulmer
(1997) note that interns should at least have " an understanding of the field,
its key concepts, and basic, technological skills, especially writing." They
concluded that basic skills include technical work, planning, interpersonal
skills and a theoretical and practical understanding of mass communications.
The importance of academic preparedness is emphasized by Basow and Byrne
(1993), who warn that some students should be cautioned "against attempting some
internships prematurely" (p. 52). Similarly, Beard (1997) notes that one of the
most significant findings from his study of interns is "that academic
preparation leads to more and better opportunities on most internships" (p. 8).
Better opportunities, in turn, lead to successful internships.
Proactivity/aggressiveness. The literature indicates that students are more
likely to have successful internships if they demonstrate initiative (Basow &
Byrne, 1993; Beard, 1997) and are aggressive in making their wants and needs
known. Basow and Byrne, for instance, recommend that students be encouraged to
be aggressive by volunteering for assignments and asking questions.
Furthermore, Beard (1997) notes that "there is an almost universal assumption
among interns and their supervisors that interns should demonstrate the same
kind of initiative expected from new employees by finding things to do and
asking questions" (p. 10). Beard found that when interns make their wants and
needs known, their supervisors generally respond positively.
Positive attitude. The literature suggests that students will more likely have
a successful internship if they have a positive attitude toward it as both a
learning and occupational experience. In his study of interns and their
supervisors, Beard (1997) found that both groups emphasized the importance of
interns treating almost any task as a potential learning experience. Students
are also expected to realize greater benefits from an internship if they treat
it like a real job. Beard found that many internship supervisors expect interns
to come to the worksite ready to work, and to exhibit the same attitudes as new,
full-time employees. Similarly Bourland-Davis et al. (1997) suggest that
interns should have accurate expectations and set appropriate goals for the
Quality of supervision. Beard (1997) suggests that good supervisors manage the
relationship with their interns by providing specific direction and examples,
some autonomy and independence, and positive and constructive work-related
feedback. Similarly, Taylor (1992) notes that good supervisors are supportive,
increasing, rather than lowering, the intern's self-esteem. Such supervisors
"demonstrate high work standards and competence, provide frequent feedback,
develop the individual through coaching" (Taylor, p. 56), evaluate interns, and
help interns to "understand how the isolated activities and encounters fit
within the scope of an entire . . . program" (Bourland-Davis et al., 1997, p.
Gabris and Mitchell (1992), in their survey of public administration interns,
found that effective supervision was strongly and significantly correlated with
an overall "intern satisfaction index." They conclude that ". . . supervisors
who . . . work to develop interesting and challenging assignments for their
interns, are more likely to find their interns satisfied with the educational
benefits of the experience" (p. 191).
Organizational practices and policies. Related to the effectiveness of an
intern's supervisor are the practices and policies that organizations use to
structure and manage internships. Structure includes considering the length and
appropriate terms of internships, establishing basic expectations, and
conducting weekly intern meetings (Bourland-Davis et al., 1997). Managing
internships includes (a) providing interns with the physical and other resources
needed to accomplish assigned work (Beard, 1997) (b) providing interns an
experience that approximates that of a full-time employee (Verner, 1993), (c)
providing students with the opportunity to work on projects from inception to
completion (Beard) with little "busy work" (Campbell & Kovar, 1994; Krasilovsky
& Lendt, 1996), (d) providing opportunities for involvement in project
decision-making (Gabris & Mitchell, 1992) (e) integrating interns into
management team meetings, (f) providing appropriate study programs for the site,
(g) assuring that the site builds upon the intern's academic foundation, and (h)
providing opportunities for interns to write, plan events, handle media
relations, do general office work, write press releases and produce newsletters
(Bourland-Davis et al., 1997).
Compensation. Research indicates that interns have more successful internships
if they are compensated for their work. Basow and Byrne (1993) contend that
compensation should at least include academic credit for internships. ACEJMC
agrees. It developed Standard 7 to guide schools in offering internships for
credit (ACEJMC, 1997).
However, other researchers contend that payment is the best compensation for an
intern's work. Basow and Byrne (1993) found that interns receiving payment
evaluated their internships higher. Moreover, Beard (1997) found that "even
token payment appears to lead to many positive consequences, such as reduced
physical and mental stress for students and a more positive outlook toward the
value of the internship" (p. 18).
Other writers suggest that monetary compensation leads to more successful
internships for four reasons. First, it reminds students that they are entering
the "real world" and should treat the internship like a job (Beard, 1997;
Hamilton, 1992). Second, it implies a commitment on the part of the sponsoring
organization to make the internship meaningful (Hamilton). Third, it helps
students offset the loss of income from other part-time jobs (Beard; Berger,
1992). Fourth, it helps students justify an internship to parents, who are
often bearing much of the financial costs for college and who may discourage
students from doing unpaid internships (Berger).
An extensive body of research, conducted in a variety of professional
disciplines, suggests that the success of an internship might be appropriately
evaluated using five constructs. These include the following: (a) acquisition
of technical skills, (b) career-related benefits, (c) career focus, (d)
acquisition of interpersonal skills, and (e) outcomes of a more practical
Acquisition of technical skills. The acquisition of technical, work-related
skills is almost synonymous with the notion of "internship." College graduates
are increasingly competing with the underemployed and victims of corporate
layoffs, who already possess substantial work skills. It is not surprising,
then, that Beard (1997) found that all his respondents "recognized the
importance of the intern gaining 'real world' experience from the internship,
including technical job skills" (p. 6).
Career benefits. For students, career benefits include (a) improving prospects
for obtaining entry-level jobs (Horowitz, 1996; Perlmutter & Fletcher, 1996),
(b) obtaining mentors (Basow & Byrne, 1993; Verner, 1993), (c) acquiring a new
recognition of the relevance of college course work, (d) attending regular
professional development seminars and participating in mock interviews
(Brightman, 1989, Farinelli & Mann, 1994), (e) gaining an understanding of the
"differences between academic and professional life," (f) gaining an
understanding of "office politics and protocol," (g) developing prioritization
and organization skills, (h) developing a professional attitude, (i) developing
a portfolio, and (j) networking (Bourland-Davis et al., 1997, p. 31).
Career focus. Another benefit presumed to accrue to students includes greater
focus on a career path (Perlmutter & Fletcher, 1996). Career focus includes a
recognition of the vocational abilities students should be able to offer future
employers, as well as those they will need to be successful in their careers
(Taylor, 1992). Thus, career focus is believed to lead to more positive beliefs
about the intern's career choice and is also believed to be correlated with
future job satisfaction (Taylor).
Acquisition of interpersonal skills. Some researchers have noted the
importance of internships in developing students' interpersonal skills (Beard,
1997) and adjusting to the culture and climate of the professional workplace
(Campbell & Kovar, 1994). In fact, after their internships, many students
"report a newfound appreciation for the interpersonal and communication skills
required of the professional in the workplace" (Beard, p. 6).
Practical outcomes. Beard (1997) found that, while gaining "real world" job
experience is an important outcome of an internship, tangible evidence of this
experience is equally important. Thus, practical outcomes include materials for
portfolios and job interviews, personal references, and simply being able to
demonstrate the use of common workplace technologies, such as fax machines and
Research Purpose and Questions
The overall purpose of this study is to explore and assess the nature and
strength of the relationship between the characteristics of interns and
internships (as predictors) and intern evaluations of the positive outcomes by
which they assessed the success of their internships (as criterions). Thus, the
following research questions were addressed in this study:
Question 1: What proportion of advertising and PR students experience an
internship that has beneficial outcomes?
Question 2: To what extent does a relationship exist between the predictors of
a successful internship and positive outcomes?
Question 3: What is the proportion of variance in internship outcomes that is
predictable from knowledge of internship and intern characteristics?
Question 4: Which of the characteristics of internships and interns are most
highly predictive of successful internship outcomes?
Data were gathered from a national sample of advertising and PR students. It
was not possible to construct a sampling frame of all advertising and PR
interns, both for-credit and not-for-credit, and to sample randomly from it.
However, given the goals of this study, which are more analytical in nature, a
purposive sample consisting of students who had recently completed internships
was deemed appropriate. Thus, respondents were identified by first identifying
and contacting academic internship supervisors and coordinators at the 102
accredited JMC programs listed in the ACEJMC annual publication (1997).
Academic internship supervisors were asked to return response cards indicating
whether or not they would be willing and able to participate in the survey. Of
the 102 accredited schools, four responded that they either did not offer
advertising and/or PR courses or did not manage internships in a "formal" sense.
These were eliminated from the population, leaving a population of 98 programs.
Twenty-four of the contacted programs agreed to administer the survey to
students who would complete an internship during Summer 1997, gather the
completed questionnaires, and return them to the study's investigators. Thus,
the survey produced a response rate of 24% at the program level. As an
inducement, internship supervisors were offered a summary of the results from
the entire sample and a custom breakout, so they could compare the results for
just their students with those of the national sample. The participating 24
programs produced a total of 193 survey intern respondents.
The survey instrument was a self-administered questionnaire, consisting of
three major sections: (a) assessment of predictors, (b) assessment of
criterions, and (c) demographic and other descriptive data. A five-point,
Likert-type response, ranging from "strongly disagree" (1) to "strongly agree"
(5), was used to construct multi-item, composite scales. The instrument was
pretested among a sample of advertising and PR interns, prior to its use in the
Predictors. Six items were used to measure the extent to which interns
believed they were academically prepared for their internships (e.g., "My
college courses gave me the skills I needed to perform well on my internship").
The extent that interns reported being proactive and aggressive during their
internships (e.g., "I often volunteered for tasks during my internship") was
assessed using four items.
Four items assessed the positive attitudes interns held toward the internship
as both a learning and work experience opportunity (e.g., "I treated my
internship like a real job"). The quality of the intern's supervision and
effectiveness of his or her supervisor were assessed with eight items (e.g., "My
supervisor considered my interests and goals and adapted the internship
Organizational practices and policies were assessed using six items (e.g., "My
work was very similar to that of a full-time, entry-level employee"). Finally,
whether a respondent received some form of monetary compensation was included in
the analysis as a dummy variable.
Outcomes. The extent to which students reported that the experience led to the
acquisition of technical job skills was assessed with five items (e.g., "I got
lots of 'hands-on' experience"). Four items measured the extent to which the
internship provided career-related benefits (e.g., "I developed a mentor
relationship with someone during my internship").
Four items were used to assess the career-focus benefits of the internship
(e.g., "I now have a better focus on where my career is going"). The
acquisition of interpersonal skills was assessed with three items (e.g., "I
improved my interpersonal skills when it comes to working with others"). Other
practical outcomes resulting from the internship-e.g., "I completed projects I
can use in my portfolio"-were assessed with five items.
The predictor and outcome items were subjected to two separate principal
components factor analyses (varimax and oblimin rotations), prior to their use
in scale construction. Some items were deleted from the analysis when they
failed to discriminate among the factors in the solutions. The scales were then
constructed by categorizing the remaining items, summing the item scores, and
dividing by the number of items in each scale. Basic scale characteristics and
reliabilities are reported in Table 1. Reliability coefficients for all the
scales in the study indicate acceptable reliability, with Cronbach alphas
ranging from .60 to .91 (Nunnally, 1978).
Insert Table 1 about here
Demographic and Other Descriptive Items. The final section of the
questionnaire included whether interns received some form of monetary
compensation, whether they received academic credit, declared major, type of
internship worksite, sex, GPA, and race.
Descriptive statistics were used to assess the demographics of the sample and
to answer research question 1: What proportion of advertising and PR students
experience an internship that has beneficial outcomes? Canonical correlation
analysis was used to answer research questions 2 - 4: (2) to assess the
strength of the relationship between the set of predictor variables and the set
of criterion variables, (3) to determine what proportion of variance in
successful internships is accounted for by the predictors, and (4) to identify
the predictors that are most highly predictive of a successful internship.
Canonical correlation analysis, as opposed to simple bivariate correlation
analysis or multiple regression analysis, was used in this study because the
principal concern is with the structural relationships between the two sets of
data holistically, and not in the associations between individual variables or
the prediction of a single criterion variable (Clark, 1975; Levine, 1977).
For those unfamiliar with canonical correlation, the procedure works in such a
way as to produce pairs of canonical variates-linear composites of the original
variable scores for both sets of variables-that have maximum correlation (Tucker
& Chase, 1980). In other words, the canonical variates represent the
combination of variables in a set that have the highest possible correlation
with a combination of variables in the other set (Levine, 1977). Pairs of
canonical variates (called "roots") are extracted successively, each pair having
a smaller canonical correlation than the preceding pair, as the pair accounts
for residual variance not accounted for by the preceding pairs. The total
possible number of roots is equal to the number of variables in the smaller of
the two sets.
One of the advantages of canonical correlation is that each successive root
represents a pair of linear combinations between the two sets of variables that
may represent a statistically significant and independent pattern of
relationships between the two sets.
The canonical correlation coefficient (Rc) measures the strength of the
relationship between the variates in a root and is, in fact, the Pearson
product-moment correlation between the two variates (Tucker & Chase, 1980). The
coefficient is a direct measure of the strength of the relationship between the
two sets of variables. The statistical significance of a root's Rc is tested
using Bartlett's X2, with a null hypothesis of a zero correlation between the
As in factor analysis, the dimensions, or content, of the canonical variates
may be interpreted. Many statisticians and methodologists (Clark, 1975; Tucker
& Chase, 1980) advocate interpreting the nature of the variates by examining the
correlations of the original variables in a set with the variate. These
correlations are termed "loadings" (or canonical variates) and are interpreted
in much the same way as variable loadings in factor analysis. In addition, the
variable with the highest loading in a set is the variable that most highly
predicts the variate in the opposite set.
Finally, measurement overlap, or variance explained, between the two sets of
variables is assessed using a redundancy index (Tucker & Chase, 1980). Although
the canonical procedure produces a measure of the variance shared by the two
variates in a root (Rc2), research interest is typically focused on the extent
to which the two sets of variables overlap, which is measured by the redundancy
index. In this study, the redundancy index is used to assess the amount of
variance in successful internship outcomes that is predictable from a knowledge
of the characteristics of interns and their internships.
The results indicate that most interns in the sample completed their
internships with high evaluations of their success. In addition, the results of
the canonical analysis reveal that (a) the sets of predictor and criterion
variables are highly correlated, (b) that the predictor variables account for
almost one-half the variance in the criterion set, and (c) that quality of
supervision is the most important predictor variable. These results are
discussed in greater depth below, following a description of the study's sample.
In terms of degree area, the largest proportion of respondents declared
themselves PR majors (60.6%), followed by advertising (25.4%), and "other"
(14.4%). Becker and Kosicki's (1997) most recent survey of journalism and mass
communication enrollments reveals that, of the total students enrolled in
advertising and PR, 46.1% are in PR, 39.7% are in advertising, and 14.2% are in
combined programs. Thus, advertising students are somewhat underrepresented in
the present sample.
Almost all the respondents received academic credit for their internships
(95.3%); with 58% receiving some form of monetary compensation. The most common
internship site was a PR/advertising agency (25.8%), followed by "other"
(22.8%), and business/industry (18%). Females represented a greater proportion
of respondents (82.4%) than the most recent survey of JMC undergraduates (Becker
& Kosicki, 1997 = 59.4% female respondents) or a recent survey of a large
midwestern university's JMC graduates (Horowitz, 1997 = 73% female respondents).
Thus, females are somewhat overrepresented in the sample.
Similarly, a larger proportion of respondents (89.5%) classified themselves as
"white" than in Becker and Kosicki's 1997 survey (79.3% white graduates).
Finally, respondents reported a mean GPA of 3.28.
RQ 1: What proportion of advertising and PR students experience an internship
that has beneficial outcomes? The majority of interns agreed that their
internships were successful, based on agreement scores of 4.00 and above on a
scale of agreement of 1.00 to 5.00. The largest proportion (75.2%) agreed that
their internships helped them to acquire interpersonal skills. The smallest
proportion (59.8%) agreed that the internship successfully gave them greater
career focus. Interns agreeing that their internships were successful in
producing other outcomes fell within this 15-point range: acquisition of
technical skills = 70.1%, career benefits = 69%, and practical outcomes =
When the results above are combined with the mean scores on the outcomes scales
(Table 1), it is evident that interns assessed the successful outcomes resulting
from their internships very highly. Mean agreement scores on the outcomes
scales are above 4.00 on every outcome.
RQ 2: To what extent does a relationship exist between the predictors of a
successful internship and positive outcomes? The canonical analysis produced
two statistically significant roots. However, Root 2 had a Rc of less than
.30, the rule-of-thumb for meaningful interpretation (Tucker & Chase, 1980).
addition, the variance of the successful internship outcome variables explained
by the predictors in Root 2 was trivial (.006). Thus, further interpretation of
the results are confined to the findings contained in the first root.
The first root resulting from the canonical analysis is shown in Table 2. Root
1 indicates that the sets of predictor and criterion variables are highly and
significantly correlated (Rc = .84, X2 = 233.056, p < .0001). The
interpretation of canonical variates typically involves focusing on the variable
loadings with the highest absolute values (Tucker & Chase, 1980). Thus, it is
clear that the Set 1 variate is somewhat dominated by the quality of supervision
variable, although the organizational practices and policies and positive
attitude variables substantially define the variate and are also highly
correlated with it. Likewise, academic preparedness is substantially correlated
with the variate.
Interestingly, an intern's academic preparedness and whether or not he or she
received compensation for the internship are not correlated as highly with the
successful outcomes measured by the Set 2 variables. However, the magnitudes of
their loadings do indicate that they are moderately correlated with successful
Insert Table 2 about here
Set 2 loadings are dominated by practical outcomes and the acquisition of
technical skills, although the very high loadings for all the variables define a
variate that uniformly captures the concept of a "successful internship."
The loadings of the variables in both sets, as well as the consistent
directions of the coefficient signs, makes interpretation of the variates and
their relationships straightforward. Interns who rate the quality of internship
supervision high, organizational practices and policies high, rate themselves
high in terms of positive attitude, and who rate themselves moderately high on
academic preparedness-tend also to rate the quality of their internships higher
on every dimension.
RQ 4: What is the proportion of variance in internship outcomes that is
predictable from knowledge of internship and intern characteristics? The
redundancy of Set 2 (outcomes) given Set 1 (predictors) is .48. In sum,
approximately one-half of the success of an internship, as measured in this
study, is predictable from a knowledge of the variables in the predictor set.
RQ 5: Which of the characteristics of internships and interns are most highly
predictive of successful internship outcomes? It is clear that quality of
supervision is the most important single predictor variable of the general "good
internship" variate described by the variables in the criterion set. However,
it is also clear that all the predictor variables are predictive of an intern's
overall evaluation of successful outcomes resulting from his or her internship.
The importance of the predictors, after quality of supervision (based on the
magnitudes of their loadings), are organizational practices/policies, positive
attitude, academic preparedness, proactivity/aggressiveness, and compensation,
in that order.
Given the importance of an internship to the future career of an advertising or
PR student, it is encouraging to discover that such a large proportion of
students had what they believe to be a successful internship. This is
consistent with other research on JMC interns, such as Horowitz's study (1997),
which found that the mean satisfaction score, on a one-to-ten scale, with 10
rated as "excellent," was 8.45. Conversely, the frequency of unsuccessful
internships that led Perlmutter and Fletcher (1996) to ask: "Why do so many
fail" Why do horror stories abound?" (p. 5), may, fortunately, not be all that
The high ratings of internship success reported by the respondents to this
survey suggests that granting academic credit for internships is appropriate.
Furthermore, since the sample consists of students enrolled in ACEJMC-accredited
JMC programs, which are presumably following ACEJMC internship guidelines, the
results suggest that these guidelines may be contributing substantially to
It is important to note, however, that a far smaller proportion of students
agreed that their internships led to an increase in career focus. At first,
this result might suggest a need for improvement. However, it is also important
to remember that many students use internships to test different career
possibilities, and may, in fact, reject some career paths based on the outcomes
of these internships. Thus, such internships may not necessarily lead to
improvements in career focus, yet be beneficial.
The results of this study represent substantial progress in the effort to
understand specifically what needs to happen during an internship in order for
it to lead to successful outcomes. Although the literature had certainly
suggested the predictors of a successful internship, this study confirms their
importance. Furthermore, the results empirically confirm how much of a
successful internship can be predicted from a knowledge of these predictors.
Citing De Mott (1972), Basow and Byrne (1993) note that "Most media managers
and executives try to make such internships meaningful learning experiences for
the students involved. . ." (p. 48). The moderately high evaluations of both
supervisor effectiveness and organizational practices and policies found in this
study support this conclusion. However, because the quality of supervision and
organizational practices and policies regarding internships proved to be the
best predictors of a successful internship, this study indicates that JMC
programs need to concentrate more on training internship supervisors and helping
students select quality worksites.
It is also important to note the very high correlation between the positive
attitude variable and successful internships. This result strongly suggests
that students should be encouraged to treat their internships like real jobs.
They need to dress appropriately, be on time, and be at the worksite when they
are scheduled to be there.
It sum, many of the results of this study indicate that successful internships
depend most on predictors to which JMC programs appear to give the least time
and attention. Most programs require that interns have a certain number of
completed credits with an acceptable grade point average. Yet, such academic
preparedness proved considerably less important than other predictors for which
most programs are not presently controlling. For instance, few programs
consider students' attitudes when deciding if they are ready for an internship,
and even fewer require that students intern with only approved worksites and
supervisors. In this respect, it is important to note that the respondents to
this survey rated quality of supervision and organizational practices and
policies good, but these ratings were lower that those of the other variables
used to describe themselves and their internships.
In other words, the results suggest that implementing requirements regarding
the selection of worksites and supervisors, and encouraging students to treat
their internships like real jobs, should improve internships more than
requirements regarding interns' academic preparedness or
proactivity/aggressiveness, which are not as highly correlated with successful
Supervisors should be trained to provide specific direction, examples, and
positive, constructive feedback. They should encourage interns' autonomy and
independence, and provide opportunities for interns to utilize their education
in tasks that are compatible with the intern's future career goals. Of course,
they should be knowledgeable and well-respected in the field for which the
intern is educated.
In deciding whether to approve a worksite, JMC programs should consider whether
the organization is implementing appropriate practices and policies regarding
interns. Organizations should plan to provide students with an experience that
approximates that of a full-time employee. They should provide tasks and
projects on which interns can practice and hone their skills, rather than just
doing busy work. The internship should involve interns in decision making and
planning and give them opportunities to work on whole projects from beginning to
end. At the least, it should provide interns the opportunity to work with
full-time employees in such a way that interns understand how their work
contributes to a whole project.
However, it is important to note that proactivity/aggressiveness and
compensation are moderately correlated with successful internship outcomes.
These results suggest that students should continue to be encouraged to
volunteer for assignments, ask questions, and to be aggressive about making
their wants and needs known. Similarly, JMC programs should encourage
organizations wanting interns to pay them. Beard (1997) contends that the
payment doesn't have to be much. Just paying students' tuition for the
internship credit can have a positive influence on interns' perceptions of their
internships. However, the fact that monetary compensation is only moderately
associated with successful internships is probably a result of interns'
willingness to accept unpaid internships as "part of paying their dues."
Study Limitations and Recommendations for Future Research
One limitation of the present study is the generalizability of the results.
The study should be replicated with a random sample, and including other JMC
disciplines, as well as programs that are not accredited by ACEJMC. Such a
study would help address an important question: Does the ACEJMC standard
requiring programs to plan, monitor and evaluate for-credit internships
contribute to their success? Similarly, is there any difference in positive
outcomes for for-credit internships compared to not-for-credit internships?
A second limitation is the study's reliance on a self-administered survey
questionnaire, which can be susceptible to various sources of error. Interested
researchers might consider obtaining objective evaluations of internship success
directly from internship supervisors.
Third, there is clearly room for improvement in the psychometric properties of
some of the predictor and outcomes scales developed for this study. Although
all the scales indicated acceptable levels of internal reliability, measurement
of the positive attitude, proactivity/aggressiveness, and practical outcomes
constructs can be improved.
Finally, it is important to note that canonical correlation, as a mathematical
maximization technique, can produce inflated results. Similarly, Tucker and
Chase (1980) note that "canonical structures may be highly unstable from sample
to sample. . ." (p. 223). Thus, the validity and reliability of the present
results should be assessed with a replication, repeating the study on a
Basic Scale and Variable Characteristics: Means, Standard Deviations,
and Scale Reliability Estimates
1. Academic Preparedness
3. Positive Attitude
4. Quality of Supervision
5. Organizational Practices/
6. Acquisition of Technical Skills
7. Career Benefits
8. Career Focus
9. Acquisition of Interpersonal Skills
10. Practical Outcomes
Note. Number of respondents (n) varies due to missing responses.
Canonical Structure (Root 1): Internship Predictors and Criterions
1. Academic Preparedness
3. Positive Attitude
4. Quality of Supervision
5. Organizational Practices
1. Acquisition of Technical Skills
2. Career Benefits
3. Career Focus
4. Acquisition of Interpersonal Skills
5. Practical Outcomes
Rc = .84, Rc2 = .70, X2 = 233.056, df = 30, p < .0001. Redundancy: Set 2
given Set 1 = 48%.
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Predicting Successful Internships