Internship design and its impact on intrinsic motivation and student career choice.
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This study examines the role experiential education, in the form of internships, plays in the professional development of Hospitality and Tourism Management students. Through an appraisal of the literature, it outlines the many benefits available to direct and indirect stakeholders through the facilitation of a structured, work based learning experience.
In particular, it analyses the internship through an evaluation of job design by applying both Hackman and Oldham’s (1975a) Job Characteristics Model (JCM) and developing a proposed intern’s version of that model. The outcomes demonstrate that dimensions of the work undertaken do contribute significantly to an individual’s satisfaction and intrinsic motivation with the proposed intern’s model offering improved R2 coefficients, over the original JCM, by using different predictive variables.
The study further sub-divides the sample by examining the findings by cohort and emphasis area. This affords the opportunity to identify specific recommendations on internship design that provides maximum utility to the student participant and the facilitators of the work experience. To this end, the results offer a series of recommended job dimensions for various service industry destinations including the need for increased task significance and feedback from agents for tourism students, opportunities for an autonomous work environment for event planners, exposure to a variety of skills for lodging professionals and feedback from the job for food and beverage students. By designing internships in this way, opportunities for enriched work are created for students at the case-study university.
The study also examines the role classroom education plays in underpinning the internship experience and finds that while this assists students in observing many of the topics and theories discussed in a theoretical setting, the experiential component of the learning enhances their education through the development of new skills and competencies not previously taught.
Overall, this study offers a unique contribution to the existing body of knowledge on experiential education and its impact on worker/job satisfaction and intrinsic motivation.
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