Paid and unpaid graduate internships: prevalence, quality and motivations at six months after graduation

Wil Hunt, Peter Scott

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Abstract

Secondary analysis of the UK’s 2011-12 Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey reveals that many existing assumptions about graduate internships are questionable. This article proposes a reliable way of estimating the true extent of internships including those reported as ‘voluntary’ jobs: hidden internships. In doing so the article finds: 1) At six months after graduation, internships are a small feature of the UK graduate labour market, but significant in certain sectors; 2) Unpaid internships are much more prevalent than previously estimated, especially in these same sectors; and 3) Contrary to some public policy debate, unpaid internships appear, on balance, to be a residual option more likely to lead to underemployment and less favourable career development outcomes. Post-graduation internships appear less likely than pre-graduation work experiences to confer long-term employability advantages.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0
Pages (from-to)464-476
Number of pages13
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Volume45
Issue number2
Early online date8 Nov 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020

Keywords

  • internships
  • employability
  • graduate labour market
  • transitions into employment

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