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e-Internships: prevalence, characteristics and role of student perspectives

Debora Jeske (Jacobs Center on Lifelong Learning and Institutional Development, Jacobs University Bremen, Bremen, Germany)
Carolyn Axtell (Institute of Work Psychology, Sheffield University Management School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 29 July 2014

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the emergence of a new form of internship (virtual or e-internships), which poses particular challenges for the interns, the supervisors and organizations alike. The authors present results regarding the prevalence and characteristics of e-internships, including a brief e-internship description for demonstrative purposes. Then use the findings of a student survey to outline the role of students’ past internship experience and prior knowledge as potential factors that influence acceptance of e-internships.

Design/methodology/approach

The case study was based on an interview with an e-intern and the analysis of student awareness, prior experience and knowledge was based on the analysis of a student survey.

Findings

The paper summarizes preliminary research that confirms the emergence of e-internships in several countries. It also outlines the characteristics of these new internships and outlines how e-internships compare to traditional internships, thus providing an insight for practitioners and managers. The case study and student survey outline the role of previous internships and prior knowledge as potential influences on self-selection and interest in e-internships. The paper further discusses some of the practical issues.

Research limitations/implications

This paper outlines a number of new findings about the e-internships and represents only a first step into the right direction. The success factors and conditions for these internships are currently largely unknown.

Originality/value

This paper provides information about e-internships using available statistics, a case study and survey results. The paper outlines relevant research avenues for researchers in the area of virtual work and personnel management, e-collaboration, communication studies and multimedia effectiveness.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the reviewers for their excellent comments and suggestions. In addition, the authors are indebted to Gabriel L. Bicu, several anonymous interviewees who manage e-interns as well as the anonymous e-intern whose case study were included for their assistance and interest in the work. Finally, the authors would also like to thank the Career Services staff and participants of the student survey for their time and suggestions.

Citation

Jeske, D. and Axtell, C. (2014), "e-Internships: prevalence, characteristics and role of student perspectives", Internet Research, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 457-473. https://doi.org/10.1108/IntR-11-2012-0226

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited