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Exploring Students’ Perceptions & Expectations for Internships

Internships and other experiential work opportunities are fundamental to the workforce at large and to individual professional development. These temporary work arrangements provide students a structured opportunity to gain relevant workplace skills, clarify their interests, and gain valuable human capital as they signal to employers that they are ready for the world of work. Internships are likewise valuable to employers, both in terms of cultivating their future workforce as well as gaining assistance with temporary projects or entry-level work at low cost and low risk. As internship offerings continue to grow, it is essential to understand these benefits and to explore areas for expansion and support of these types of work training opportunities for those seeking experience in a given career field. This report explores these and other benefits of internships through a joint consideration of the college student perspective, the Generation Z parent perspective, and the employer perspective. Questions addressed within this report include:

College students: How many college students intern? What are some of the differences in approaches to post-college planning between those with and without internship experience? What are some of the concerns related to access to internship opportunities?

Employers: What types of organizations offer internship opportunities? What are the most common barriers to offering internships? To what extent do employers value internships in hiring considerations?

Parents: How do parents feel about their students pursuing internship opportunities as a part of their pre-career training? Are parents aware of different types of experiential work opportunities available to their middle school- and high school-aged children?

In conjunction with our research, American Student Assistance® (ASA) additionally offers some action opportunities and policy recommendations. These solutions include:
1. Encourage additional government investment in internships as a practical workforce development strategy;
2. Make internships more broadly available and accessible to students;
3. Decrease the financial and administrative burden of internships on employers.

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