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The use of internships to foster employability, enterprise and entrepreneurship in the IT sector

Laura Galloway (School of Management and Languages, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK)
Abigail Marks (School of Management and Languages, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK)
Shiona Chillas (School of Management, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, UK)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Article publication date: 11 November 2014

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to report a study of the role of internships for IT students and for the IT sector. The contribution of internships for career-readiness, and for the development of existing IT organisations and the creation of new ones is explored.

Design/methodology/approach

Surveys of interns and managers from host firms were conduced, followed by in-depth interviews with six interns and five organisations.

Findings

Internships are useful for increasing enterprise and employability skills and commercial awareness for IT students. IT organisations also benefit in that internships are used to recruit fresh talent. Findings regarding entrepreneurship were disappointing, with little reportage of ambitions to create new firms, nor awareness of the high likelihood of self-employed contractual work in the sector.

Research limitations/implications

Implications for research include that self-employment and business ownership are not always “successful” entrepreneurial outcomes born of agency. This requires further study.

Practical implications

Development of opportunities for experiential, real-world learning for IT students is implied, as is increased educational focus on employability and enterprise skills to best advantage students for the realities of employment in IT. There is a strong suggestion that much more needs to be done in terms of encouraging entrepreneurship.

Originality/value

The paper reports the potentials of internships to interns and to organisations, and through combining these perspectives, provides comment on the utility of internships for the IT sector as a competitive, opportunity-rich global industry.

Keywords

Citation

Galloway, L., Marks, A. and Chillas, S. (2014), "The use of internships to foster employability, enterprise and entrepreneurship in the IT sector", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 653-667. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSBED-09-2014-0150

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited