Scholars from the University of Wisconsin-Madison published a Working Paper on “Problematizing College Internships: Exploring Issues with Access, Program Design, and Developmental Outcomes in three U.S. Colleges” on Access & Success specifically for internships as a part of a university degree programme.
They surveyed over 1100 students and set up a focus group of 57 of the surveyed students. Their first aim was to set up a model for statistically sound research into internships as a contribution to HE learning outcomes, using inductive thematic analysis, chi-square, and hierarchical linear modelling.
For the analysis of the Focus group transcripts, they used MaxQDA software looking for barriers to internships, program features, and program format and their impacts on student outcomes. However, they also feel confident to articulate some tentative hypotheses on access to internships, if only as a basis for further research. They found that internships participation not only correlates with the type of academic programme (which is not surprising) but also with race, institution and enrolment status. Job obligations and course workload were found to be the most significant barriers to an internship.
In conclusion, they urge not only the HE Institutions, but also employers to recognise that internships may be a positive transformative experience for students, but also bear the risk of becoming a vehicle for reproducing inequality.