In Brief

  • This article presents data gathered from employer evaluations of University of Central Missouri students who completed academic internships.

  • The data provide a great resource for continuous improvement and validation of program technical content.

  • Taking into account feedback from internship providers when evaluating academic programs can help educational institutions improve students' academic experience and meet the needs of hiring companies.

Supervisors of interns must seek to retain academic quality as they help the students integrate theory and practice, moving them beyond simple experience to fuller utilization and development of their education (Karlsson, 2011). Karlsson's study examined how well the practical experience continued the academic one. In this article, the authors describe a similar project conducted for presentation at ASSE's annual conference (Iske & Weller, 2014). In contrast to Karlsson's study, Iske and Weller (2014) investigated how well the students' academic experience in one such university program prepared them for real-world internship experiences as well as the potential for improvement in the academic preparatory knowledge.

Research on internships often focuses on evaluating student success. Using internship data to validate a program's effectiveness should prove useful to companies that use or are considering adding academic interns to their workforce. The data presented here were gathered from the internship supervisors' evaluations of their interns from University of Central Missouri (UCM). Evaluations were submitted halfway through the semester (at midterm) and as a final evaluation at the end of the internship. For this study, only the final evaluations were considered for assessment of student performance. These data provide a great resource for continuous improvement and validation of program technical content, ensuring a top-notch educational experience for students and a benefit for the companies hiring them.

Internships & Why Employers Sponsor Them

Ferguson (1998) describes an internship as "a means of bridging the gap between the student's education and the business world." Internships are becoming the capstone experience for students in an increasing number of degree programs and disciplines. Internships provide exceptional experiences for students for practical employment advancement and potential employment entry. They can provide firsthand knowledge and understanding of the need to learn work skills, and development of career expectations and future goals.

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