Benefits and Intended Outcomes of Internships in Undergraduate Business Education


  • Kawana W. Johnson Florida State University


Experiential learning, Career development, Professionalism, Higher education


Historically, business schools have primarily focused on preparing students conceptually, theoretically, and philosophically to excel in business, government, and social sectors. However, a gradual shift has occurred in the priorities of business education to identify skills employers seek, ensure that curriculum is regularly re-examined, and take employer satisfaction into consideration to keep up with the rapidly changing corporate environment. To address this concern, some undergraduate business schools have incorporated internships into the curriculum to help close the skills gap. The benefits of internships have often been assumed, but seldom explored from a qualitative perspective. A case study asked the research question: According to administrators, employers, and students, what are the benefits and intended outcomes of internships in undergraduate
business education? Qualitative methods consisting of individual interviews, a focus group, and several document reviews were conducted. Results indicate that internships bring theory to practice while shaping career outlooks; internships lead to full-time job opportunities; and that internships are all about building relationships and pipelines.


Alon, I. (2003). Experiential learning in international business via the worldwide

web. The Journal of Teaching in International Business, 14(2), 79–98.

Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. (2016). Accreditation

standards. Retrieved from

Baxter, P. & Jack, S. (2008). Qualitative case study methodology: Study design

implementation for novice researchers. The Qualitative Report 13, 544-559.

Beard, D., Schwieger, D., & Surendran, K. (2008). Integrating soft skills assessment

through university, college, and programmatic efforts at an AACSB accredited

institution. Journal of Information Systems Education, 19(2), 229-240.

Bennis, W. G. & O’Toole, J. (2005). How business schools lost their way. Harvard

Business Review 83(5); 96-104, 154.

Birch, C., Allen, J., McDonald, J., & Tomaszczyk, E. (2010). Graduate

Internships—bridging the academic and vocational divide. In S. Halley, C.

Birch, D. T. Tempelaar, M. McCuddy,

N. Hernàndez Nanclares, S. Reeb-Gruber, W. H. Gijselaers, B. Rienties, & E.

Nelissen (Eds.), Proceedings of the 17th EDINEB Conference: Crossing

borders in education and work-based learning (pp. 194–195). London:


Boblin, S. L., Ireland, S., Kirkpatrick, H., & Robertson, K. (2013). Using Stake’s

qualitative case study approach to explore implementation of evidence-based

practice. Qualitative Health Research, 23(9); 1267-1275.

Caulfield, J. & Woods, T. (2013). Experiential learning: Exploring its longterm impact on socially responsible behavior. Journal of the Scholarship of

Teaching and Learning, 13(2), 31-48.

Clark, J., & White, G. (2010). Experiential learning: A definitive edge in the job

market. American Journal of Business Education, 3(2), 115-118.

Coco, M. (2000). Internships: A try before you buy arrangement. SAM Advanced

Management Journal, 65(2), 41–47.

Credibility. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster online. Retrieved from http://www.

Crotty, M. (1998). The foundations of social research. London: SAGE Publications.

Dalton, D. R., Earley, P. C., Hitt, M. A., Porter, L. W. (2009, August). Revisiting

the Porter McKibbin Report: Where do we stand, and where are we going?

In P. M. Podsakoff & N. P. Podsakoff (Chairs). Green Management Matters.

Symposium conducted at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management,

Chicago, IL.

Divine, R. L., Linrud, J. K., Miller, R. H., & Wilson, J. H. (2007). Required

internship programs in marketing: Benefits, challenges, and determinants of

fit. Marketing Education Review, 17, 45-52.

Eisner, S (1999). The impact of business school on student attitudes towards

diversity in the 21st century workplace. Transformations, 10(1), 49. Retrieved



Gault, J., Leach, E. & Duey, M. (2010). Effects of business internships on job

marketability: the employers’ perspective. Education + Training, (52)1, 76-88.

Gault, J., Redington, J., & Schlager, T. (2000). Undergraduate business internships

and career success: Are they related? Journal of Marketing Education, 22,


Gerken, M., Rienties, B., Giesbers, B., & Konings, K. D. (2012). Enhancing the

academic internship learning experience for business education – A critical

review and future directions. In P. G. C. Van den Bossche, W. H. Gijselaers,

R. G. Milter (Eds.), Learning at the Crossroads of Theory and Practice (pp.).

The Netherlands: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-2846-2_1

Gordon-Howell Report of 1959: The more things change… (2009). The Economist.

Retrieved from

Grair, C. A. (2007). Experiential learning in business German workshops. Global

Business Languages, 7(8). Retrieved from


Hammersley, M. & Atkinson, P. (1983). Ethnography: Principles in practice.

Tavistock: London.

Hayes, B. R. & Jackson, H. P. (1935). A history of business education in the

United States. Cincinnati, Ohio: Southwestern Publishing.

Hergert, M. (2009). Student perceptions of the value of internships in business

education. American Journal of Business Education, 2(8), 9-13.

Hiltebeitel, K. M., Leauby, B. A. & Larkin, J. M. (2000), Job satisfaction among

entry-level accountants. CPA Journal, (70)5, 76-79.

Hodge, L., Proudford, K. L. & Holt, H. (2014). From periphery to core: The

increasing relevance of experiential learning in undergraduate business

education. Research in Higher Education Journal, 26.

Hurst, J. L., & Good, L. K. (2010). A 20-year evolution of internships: Implications

for retail interns, employers and educators. The International Review of

Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research, 20(1), 175–186. doi: http://

Jamison, D. (2010). Leadership and professional development: An integral part of

the business curriculum. Business Education Innovation Journal, 2, 102-111.

Johnson, E. B. (2002). Contextual teaching and learning: What it is and why it’s

here to stay. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press.

Kavas, A. (2013). Skills needed for a global economy: Challenges and

opportunities for rebuilding business curriculum. Journal of International

Finance & Economics, 13(1), 29-34.

Knemeyer, A. M. & Murphy, P. R. (2002). Logistics internships employer and

student perspectives. International Journal of Physical Distribution &

Logistics Management, (32)2, 135-152.

Knouse, S. B. & Fontenot, G. (2008). Benefits of the business college internship:

a research review. Journal of Employment Counseling, 45(2), 61-66.

Kolb, D. A. (2015). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning

and development (2nd Edition). New Jersey: Pearson Education.

Kolb, A. Y. & Kolb, D. A. (2008). Experiential learning theory: A dynamic,

holistic approach to management learning, education and development. In

Armstrong & Fukami (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of management learning,

education, and development (pp. 42 – 68). London: SAGE publications.

Kosnik, R. D., Tingle, J. K., & Blanton, E. L. (2013). Transformational learning

in business education: The pivotal role of experiential learning projects.

American Journal of Business Education, 6(6), 615-630.

Kuh, G. D. (2008). High-impact educational practices: What they are, who

has access to them, and why they matter. Washington, DC: Association of

American Colleges and Universities.

Lichtman, M. (2013). Qualitative research in education: A user’s guide. Los

Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.

Lincoln, Y. S. & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage


Lord, D. R., Sumrall, D. & Sambandam, R. (2011). Satisfaction determinants in

business internships. Interdisciplinary Journal of Contemporary Research in

Business, (2)10, 11- 22.

McCarthy, P. R., & McCarthy, H. M. (2006). When case studies are not enough:

Integrating experiential learning into business curricula. Journal of Education

for Business, 81(4), 201-204.

McDonald, N. L. (2011). African American college students at predominantly

white and historically black colleges and universities. (Doctoral dissertation).

Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee.

McDonald, J., Birch, C., Hitchman, A., Fox, P., & Lido, C. (2010). Developing

graduate employability through internships: New evidence from a UK

university. In S. Halley, C. Birch, D. T. Tempelaar, M. McCuddy, N.

Hernàndez Nanclares, S. Reeb-Gruber, W. H. Gijselaers, B. Rienties, & E.

Nelissen (Eds.), Proceedings of the 17th EDINEB Conference: Crossing

borders in education and work-based learning (pp. 349–358). London:


Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in

adulthood: A comprehensive guide. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

Merriam, S. B. & Tisdell, E. J. (2016). Qualitative research: A guide to design and

implementation. San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass.

Merriam, S. B. (2009). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation.

San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Merriam, S. B. (1998). Qualitative research and case study applications in

education. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Moghaddam, J. M. (2011). Perceived effectiveness of business internships: student

expectations, experiences and personality traits. International Journal of

Management, (28)4, 287-303.

National Association of Colleges and Employers. (2017). Internship & co-op

survey report. Retrieved from


Partnership for 21st Century Skills, Association for Career and Technical

Education, & National State Directors of Career and Technical Education.

(2010). Up to the challenge: The role of career and technical education and

the 21st century skills in college and career readiness. Washington, DC:

Partnership for 21st Century Skills.

Paul, P., & Mukhopadhyay, K. (2005). Experiential learning in international

business education. Journal of Teaching in International Business, 16(2),


Porter, L. W. & McKibbin, L. E. (1988). Management education and development:

Drift or thrust into the 21st century? New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company.

Rizk, L. (2011, May). Learning by doing: Toward an experiential approach to

professional development. Paper presented at the meeting of the International

Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, Puerto Rico.

Rothman, M. & Sisman, R. (2016). Internship impact on career consideration

among business students. Education + Training, 58(9), 1003-1013.

Rothman, M. (2007). Business students’ evaluation of their internships.

Psychological Reports, (101)1, 319-322.

Sattler, P. (2011). Work-integrated learning in Ontario’s postsecondary sector.

Toronto, ON: Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.

Shenton, A. K. (2004). Strategies for ensuring trustworthiness in qualitative

research projects. Education for Information, 22, 63-75.

Shuayto, N. (2013). Management skills desired by business school deans and

employers: An empirical investigation. Business Education & Accreditation,

(2), 93-105.

Smith, R. (2015, June). College doesn’t prepare students for full-time

jobs—internships do. Fortune Insider. Retrieved from http://fortune.

com/2015/06/16/ryan-smith-internship- advice/

Stake, R. E. (2003). Case studies. In Denzin, N. K. & Lincoln, Y. (Eds.), Strategies

of qualitative inquiry (pp. 134-164). London: Sage.

Stirling, A., Kerr, G., MacPherson, E., Banwell, J., Bandealy, A. & Battaglia,

A. (2017). Do postsecondary internships address the four learning modes

of experiential learning theory? An exploration through document analysis.

Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 47(1), 27-48.

Templeton, W., Updyke, K., & Bennett, R. B. (2012). Internships and the

assessment of student learning. Business Education & Accreditation, 4(2),

-38. 39

University of Colorado Denver. (2015). Experiential learning center. Retrieved


Pages/WhatisExperien tialLearning.aspx

University of Texas at Austin. (2016). Experiential learning defined: What is

experiential learning. Retrieved from

teaching/engagement/ experiential-learning/defined

Velez, G. S. & Giner, G. R. (2014). Effects of business internships on students,

employers, and higher education institutions: A systematic review. Journal of

Employment Counseling, 52, 121-130.

Weible, R., & McClure, R. (2011). An exploration of the benefits of student

internships to marketing departments. Marketing Education Review, 21, 229-

Wilhelm, W.J. (2002). Research on workplace skills employers want. In W.J.

Wilhelm, J. Logan, S.M. Smith & L.F. Szul (Eds.), Meeting the demand:

Teaching “soft” skills (pp. 12-30). AR: Delta Phi Epsilon.

Yucelt, U. (1998, February). Comparative study of students’ perception on quality

of MBA programs. Journal of International Marketing Research, 23(1), 27-




How to Cite

Johnson, K. W. (2019). Benefits and Intended Outcomes of Internships in Undergraduate Business Education. Journal of Research In Business Education, 59(2), 1-20.

Similar Articles

1-10 of 68

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.