As the world interns: The impact of identity and social, economic, and cultural capital on college student internship engagement
Date of Award
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Jason . Garvey
Internships have become a critical credential for employment, and college students with internship experience reap significant gains compared to their non-interning peers. Students who have engaged in internships are more likely to find work post-graduation, earn higher starting salaries, have better retention and engagement while still in college, and are more engaged in their workplaces many years after their internship experience has concluded. Companies who hire interns benefit from a steady pipeline of new talent, cost-savings in the hiring process, and employees who stay longer and are more engaged. Despite the significant advantages of internships, limited information exists about the overall prevalence, the legal parameters, and even the exact definition of an internship. Perhaps most conspicuously absent is a discussion about access to internship opportunities. Are internships an option for all undergraduate students? Do all students engage in internships at the same rate, regardless of the student’s income level, family connections, or other aspects of their identity?
The current study examined the identities and cultural, social, and economic capital held by University of Vermont undergraduates who participate in internships, compared to the identities and cultural, social, and economic capital of non-interning students. This ex post facto study uses 2017 National Survey of Student Engagement responses from senior students the University of Vermont, as well as institutional data. A t-test and chi square analysis were used to compare means of interning and non-interning groups, and five binary logistic regression analyses were used to predict internship participation.
Several factors significantly differed between interning and non-interning students. While all five regression models significantly predicted internship engagement, low statistical power limits the real-world significance of regression results. GPA and state residence were the most salient individual predictors of internship participation, demonstrating that for every 1.0 increase in GPA a student was 2.74 times more likely to engage in an internship, and that students from out of state were 2.20 times more likely to intern compared to participants from the state of Vermont. Explanations for the results are offered as well as implications for policy and practice to develop more equitable internship participation amongst all students.
Number of Pages
Chase, Amanda, "As the world interns: The impact of identity and social, economic, and cultural capital on college student internship engagement" (2020). Graduate College Dissertations and Theses. 1195.