Annals of Educational Research and Reviews

Internships pay off, even if unpaid: public health graduates well-equipped to enter workforce


Tara L. Crowell

An academic internship is a three-way partnership among an institution of higher education, the
internship site, and the student. Internships play an irreplaceable role in academia by providing
students hands-on learning opportunities, allowing them to collaborate with faculty, and strengthening
ties between colleges and their communities (Westerberg and Wickersham, 2011). The current study’s
use of alumni data collected via the internet and emails, to investigate the impact of students’ academic
internships on their professional life after college. Specifically, this study focuses on how the
internship experience may have impacted students’ career path after college, along with how equipped
students were to enter the workforce upon graduation. Results indicate that over the last 7 years,
approximately 70% of public health graduates are working in health-related jobs, 21% obtained their
first job from their internship site; 28.5% are currently or have pursued advanced degrees; and half of
the 16% that are employed in non-health related jobs, are working in fields related to their degree. In
light of the debate regarding educational value vs. financial aspects of the academic internship, results
from this study help illustrate the invaluable experience that can result from a properly developed and
implemented academic internship experience.


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