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Chapter 1. Introduction Background and Overview

In recent years, business internships have been on a massive rise and becoming extremely valuable for students to gain real work experience. These internship experiences are seen by companies as a differentiator among students. It has been proven that internships have been one of the most important experiences for a college graduate who wants to secure a job after graduation (Coco, 2000). Thus, internships have become a must or a requirement for most students.

The number of students pursuing internships has grown dramatically. In 1980, only 3% of students pursue internships in the U.S. In the year 2000, it has shown a dramatic change, with three out of four students complete internships before graduation (Coco, 2000).

However, currently in Taiwan there are no statistics describing the number of students pursuing internships. But with the rise of companies offering more internship opportunities and universities making internships as a required course, it’s safe to say the number of students pursuing internships in Taiwan is also growing.

An internship is an on-the-job training for professional careers1. They are short-term work arrangements that companies use to nourish and select future employees (Baron &

Kreps, 1999). Internships provide students a chance to improve business skills, gain working knowledge and real work experience for a profession while in school. Internships also provide many benefits to students and employers (Gault, Redington, & Schlager, 2000;

Schambach & Dirks, 2002). Interns may be students who are taking undergraduate degrees or graduate school degrees.

The types of internships vary in different industries and settings. The type of

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goods, finance sectors such as banks, tech and advertising are common in providing business internships to university and graduate students. Most of the business internships in Taiwan are only aim for students who are in their penultimate year. A typical internship can last between 2 months to 4 months4, or even longer depending on the business needs of a company. Most internships are held in the winter and summer vacations for students to work full-time without the distraction of homework and exams. The majority of organizations offer internship opportunities throughout the academic year and not only in the summer and winter.

(Maynard, 1999). Also, some internships are for credit and not-for-credit. Credit internships are when universities require students to have an internship as a mandatory course as mentioned in the previous paragraphs. While not-for-credits are pursued mainly by students hoping to gain work experience in the industry. Research has indicated that approximately 90% of colleges offer for credit internships in the U.S. (Divine, Linrude, Miller & Wilson, 2007). For example, in Taiwan, the MBA program of National Chengchi University (NCCU) sets for credit internships as a mandatory course for students without 2 years of work experience.

Internship programs are designed to provide mutual benefits to students and employers (Piskurich, 1997). Benefits of internships for students include quicker job offers, better career opportunity, higher salaries, faster promotion rates, job satisfaction, ease of transition from college to work, better communication skills, working, and applying the knowledge gained from the classroom (Clark, 2003; Gault, Leach, & Duey, 2010; Gault et al., 2000; Hymon- Parker & Smith, 1998; Weible, 2010). For employers, it could serve as a way to screen and employ potential candidates. Internships are an arrangement employers find to be a useful recruiting tool (National Association of Colleges and Employers [NACE], 2006).

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With regards to internships being a recruitment tool, the 2014 National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Job Outlook Report 2014 stated that 60% of new hires had internship experience and the NACE 2015 Internship & Co-op Survey reported that 51.7% of the of their class of 2015 hires came from their own internship programs. That is, after an internship, a student has a 50% chance of getting a full-time job offer in the same company. Since a job offer is a 2-way agreement involving an employer and a graduate. Both parties have the right to accept or decline the job offer.

Students can also utilize internships as their own trial period to check out a potential employer or even their compatibility within a potential function. Simply put, internships are a great way for students to sample a company without committing for life, a try before you buy arrangement as you may call it (Heller, 1997). On the other hand, Internships allow a company to evaluate a prospective employee nearly risk-free. Work ethic, attitude, and technical competence are more easily assessed during a semester or summer internship than during a one-hour interview of a perspective employee. For this reason, many companies hire their most competent interns for full-time positions after graduation. (Coco, 2000)

Job offers are only provided to competent students after their internships. According to a study of 11,000 college students conducted by Intern Bridge in 2012, 36% of paid interns received job offers after the internship program. ( That is, only 3 out of 10 students would get a job offer or accept a job offer within the same company. This clearly shows that only a minority of students would eventually work for the same company after the internship program. Thus, this study hopes to understand more of this situation and aims to find the factors involving a student accepting a job offer after internship.

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Purpose of the study

Internships are very valuable and requires a huge investment for both the employer and the intern. While employers spend time and money to test the capability and train the intern. The intern on the other hand spends a substantial amount of time in helping the company fulfill some business needs. Therefore, a well-designed internship would benefit both parties by understanding what factors could lead to job acceptance intention by interns.

This study hopes to understand the following issues below:

1.   The relationship of intern’s learning during the internship with job acceptance intention.

2.   The relationship of task goal clarity, mentorship and autonomy towards learning.

3.   Can mentorship by managers affect the intern’s job acceptance intention?

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Significance of the Study

If task goal clarity, mentorship or learning is a predictor for job acceptance intention, this study could benefit companies and advice them on how to create a well-design internship in terms of the 3 variables mentioned above. Not only does this benefit employers, it also benefits students in helping them choose which internship is the suitable one for them.

If the present research shows a positive relationship between mentorship and job acceptance intention, this study will provide increased evidence for requiring mentorship programs for interns. Furthermore, mentors could go on workshops on how to be a better mentor for interns.

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Research Process

Figure 1 Research Process

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Summary

Benefits of internships on students and employers have been well documented.

Employers may be able to find potential talent while students could find a suitable job for them after graduation. However, with majority of interns not receiving and accepting job offers by previous employers to be their first choice of employment, employers should create well-design internships to better lead internships to job offers and acceptance intention. The purpose of this study is to understand the impact of task goal clarity, mentorship, autonomy and learning to job acceptance intention. If the study shows a positive relationship between the variables to job acceptance intention, this study could be helpful for designing internships that could lead to job acceptance intention by interns.

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Chapter 2. Literature Review Overview

Chapter 1 described the rise of internships not only in Taiwan but also globally, the types and benefits of internships, stated the problem and the purpose of the study, introduce the significance of the study, the theoretical framework and outlined the limitations of this study. This literature will discuss in greater detail the benefits and limitations of internships, major theories, task goal clarity, mentorship, autonomy, learning and job retention.

Historical Perspective

The history of on-the-job learning and training goes back to as early at 600 BCE with the Romans Greeks, Chinese, and Vedic communities providing employment of interns to learn a skill or craft as an entry into areas that need skills such as sword making (Sides &

Mrvica, 2007). During the Middle Ages, serfs and indentured people were able to enjoy their freedom and live off life through apprenticeships in crafts and trade professions, which helped expand a growing middle class. These internships or apprenticeships taught the student the skills required to develop a product, goods or perform a service and educated the student on how to manage the business and be profitable in society. In the settling of the United States, apprenticeships and internships were a staple for learning crafts, skills and trades, helping business to expand, and educating people to be more skilled to be useful the society.

As the United States became a more powerful country and the industrial revolution took place, internships and apprenticeships fell out of favor for everyone. Due to their focus on manual labor and not on learning in apprenticeships or internship, it was thought that internships or apprenticeships have become old-fashioned and not useful in a society where manual labor is the key to wealth (Walker, 2011)

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Internships in the 20th century

Since the early 20th century, there has been a rise on internships. Students experiences classroom learning with application in the workplace to enhance and increase learning. The University of Cincinnati started the modern internship program in 1906 in the College of Engineering. It became a requirement course for Engineering students in 1929 (University of Cincinnati, 2011; Weible, 2010). The University of Cincinnati was a pioneer to offer business internship programs in 1919 (University of Cincinnati, 2011). Now, approximately 90% of colleges and universities offer for-credit internships or work-related experience (Divine et al., 2007), and over 94% of business schools have internship programs (Weible, 2010). The purpose of internships is to provide a smooth transition from school to a real job, and internships could serve as a bridge between college and the real world of work. Students, educational institutions, and businesses believe that internships complement the student's academic work (Farinelli & Mann, 1994).

There are 3 key participants in making an internship a beneficial experience and effect for all who are involved. They are departments, students and employers with respect to making internships valuable for everyone. Figure 2 illustrates the roles of these 3 parties in an internship program. First, the department usually comes up with an internship program and designs processes and mechanics that are needed to maintain and improve the program.

They also manage the crises once there is conflict among the parties. Students, on the other hand, need to consider what type of internship program is suitable for them and their long term goals and objectives, such as evaluating and identifying an area of interest or expertise.

While employers handle the responsibility of providing internship opportunities to students that would also benefit them in the chance of hiring a potential employee after the program.

And finally, employers provide experience and learning to the students.

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Figure 2 University/Department, Student, and Employer Roles in Internship Programs Source: R. Divine, R. Miller, J.H. Wilson, J Linrud, 2008

In 1980, only 1 in 36 students (2.7%) completed internships. However, in just 20 years time, this number has increased. In 2000, 3 out of 4 (75%) of students completed internships (Coco, 2000). Furthermore, internships could serve as a differentiator among fresh graduates, a symbol of maturity and competence among others. Students who have had important and meaningful tasks with outstanding companies are at a huge advantage (Volpi, 1998). Despite the widespread use of internships in business programs, there is limited research and literature on the effects of internships (Narayanan, Olk, & Fukami, 2010; Weible, 2010).

Narayanan et al. (2010) designed a conceptual model for identifying and understanding the factors of internship effectiveness (p. 65). Gault et al. (2010) examined the effect of business internships on job marketability from the employer’s perspective.

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Required and Elective Internships

With abundant body of literature supporting the effectiveness of internships to students (Cook, Parker and Pettijohn 2000; Knouse, Tanner and Harris 1999; Schambach and Dirks 2002), it is surprising that not a lot of business schools or departments require their students to have one.

One of the reasons that might explain this fact is that required internships, compared to elective internships could incur higher cost for a department. For an elective internship, it’s up to the student, if he or she would participate in one. On the other hand, students who don’t plan to have an internship could just focus on other things such as doing more coursework, joining more extra-curricular activities and etc.

For a required internship, the department should play a role to make sure that the internships are allowed to merit college credit and provide some supervision or guidance before, during and after the internship. Thus, it requires more commitment from the department to allocate resources and time to provide an adequate support for the students during the internship program. (R. Divine, R. Miller, J.H. Wilson, J Linrud, 2008)

Furthermore, it pushes departments to handle greater role and responsibility to ensure that all the students have appropriate internship programs. It would also mean that long-term effort should be given by departments to establish strong relationships with employers and assist interns in improving their job search. This means the department must direct substantial effort toward activities that will build better relationships with employers and improve their students’ job search and interviewing skills.

Though mandatory internship programs require huge burden on a department, the

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These benefits include improvements in career direction (Perez 2001; Beard and Morton 1999), job preparedness (Perez 2001), marketability (Swift and Kent 1999; Maynard 1999;

Hymon-Parker and Smith 1998), job expectations (Knouse, Tanner and Harris 1999), interpersonal skills (Beard and Morton 1999), leadership (Cook, Parker and Pettijohn 2000), and understanding of the business applications of classroom learning (Hymon-Parker and Smith 1998). Given the value of these results, it is clear that an internship is in the best interest of the student. By implementing an internship requirement, a department can make sure that all of its students benefit from such programs.

Required internships are more fit for universities that are not focused about PR purposes and more focused about ensuring that all of the students, including the ones who only perform averagely or below averagely, will experience the advantages of an internship program. If an internship is not mandatory, it is likely that many students will choose not to pursue, specifically students below average grades or those lacking skills such as interpersonal skills (Divine et al 2007).

Finally, the decision on whether a department should have an elective or required internship revolves around the objective of the department’s internship program. For some departments, the main objective of having an internship program is to build external relationships with firms. Furthermore, it could be a reputation building, where they could send their top students to employers. Thus, universities could limit access to only the best students to represent the school in a very positive note. Elective internships could be more suitable for departments that seek internships to be a tool for reputation building, since it allows greater selectivity surrounding internship placement (Divine et al 2007).

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Full-time vs. part-time internships

Full time internships normally require interns to work regular hours like full-time employees. They work for forty hours each week and may not have the time to take other classes in school. On the other hand, part-time internships allow students to engage in work for fewer hours in a week and provide students the advantage of going to school and take some classes. Employers prefer full-time internships because interns can have regular working hours like a full-time employee. Additional benefits of full-time internships are that supervisors would be able to fully observe all aspects of an intern’s performance in a regular work schedule. It could allow students to fully focus their whole attention to the needs of the job, since they won’t be needing to attend any of their classes in university.

Full-time internships also help students remove time conflicts between work and school which can push students to juggle both academic requirements and work requirements.

Finally, full-time internships can expand the area in which students can take internships (e.g.

different cities), because students won’t be limited to interning only at places within the vicinity of their campuses. (Divine et al 2007).

The main disadvantage of full-time internships is the difficulty for students to plan their schedule especially in the academic part. As a result, some students may not graduate on time or even extend longer just because of the internship. One possibility to reduce this extension is to require full-time internships as a general rule but allow part-time internships to take classes only if the employer gives a consent and agrees to this setting. (Divine et al 2007).

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Advantages of Internships

College graduates who have had internship experience enjoy many advantages that non-interns do not. Students who are part of internship programs benefit by increased marketability for employment (Divine et al., 2007; Swift & Kent, 1999) and higher salaries (Coco, 2000; Gault et al., 2000). Typically, 30% of each year's graduating seniors have job offers before graduation, but if the student completed an internship program the percentage increases to 58% (Coco, 2000; Gault et al., 2000). Internships can be very impressive on a student's resume, and it can be a differentiator and acts as a deciding factor in getting a job offer (Ramos, 1997). Students who took internships reported receiving job offers about 10 weeks sooner and starting salaries that were 10% higher than students who did not have internship experiences (Gault et al., 2000). With benefits like better employment after graduation and higher salaries, more and more students are aggressively finding internships.

Students who have had internships have been proven to be better prepared for a career after graduation. Also, internships improved critical thinking (Gault et al., 2000; Maskooki, Rama, & Raghunandan, 1998), relating what they learned in school to real-job settings (D’Abate et al., 2009; Divine et al., 2007; Hymon-Parker & Smith, 1998; Maskooki et al., 1998; Weible, 2010), and bridging the gap between job expectations developed in the classroom and the reality of career employment (Gault et al, 2010). Interns demonstrate enhanced time management skills, communication skills, and self-discipline (Wesley &

Bickle, 2005) and higher job satisfaction (Divine et al., 2007; Gault et al., 2000).

Students can also utilize internships as a probationary period to make sure a potential employer fits their needs or even their compatibility within a potential career. Simply put, internships are a great way for students to sample a company without committing for life (Heller, 1997). For college students still exploring on possible career paths, internships are a

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great way to discover new findings.

Coco (2000) stated that internships provide the following benefits for students:

•   Better understanding and knowledge of the similarities and differences in classroom and real world

•   Deeper industry knowledge

•   Reduced shock when entering the real world after graduation;

•   Possibility of faster advancement than non-interns.

Also, internships can pose a lot of benefits for companies. Internships allow a company

Also, internships can pose a lot of benefits for companies. Internships allow a company

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