Internship Prevalence and Factors Related to Participation
ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
The value of internship experiences for engineering students is widely discussed in the literature. With this analysis, we seek to contribute knowledge addressing 1) the prevalence of internship experiences amongst engineering students drawn from a large, multi-institutional, nationally representative sample, 2) if the likelihood of having an engineering internship experiences is equitable amongst various student identities, and 3) what additional factors influence the likelihood of a student having an internship experience, such as engineering field. Data were drawn from a 2015 multi-institutional nationally representative survey of engineering juniors and seniors, excluding one institution with a mandatory co-op program (n = 5530 from 26 institutions). A z-test was used to analyze differences in internship participation rates related to academic cohort (e.g., junior, senior), gender, underrepresented minority (URM) status, first-generation, and low-income status, as well as a subset of identities at the intersection of these groups (gender + URM; first-generation + low-income). A logistic regression model further examined factors such as GPA, engineering task self-efficacy, field of engineering, and institution type. We found that amongst the students in our dataset, 64.8% of the seniors had “worked in a professional engineering environment as an intern/co-op” (41.1% of juniors, 64.7% of 5th years). Significantly less likely (p<0.05) to have internship experiences were men compared to women (52.9% vs 58.3%), URM students compared to their majority counterparts (41.5% vs 56.8%), first-generation students compared to continuing (47.6% vs 57.2%), and low-income students compared to higher income peers (46.2% vs 57.4%). Examined intersectional identities significantly less likely to have an internship were URM men (37.5%) and first-generation low-income students (42.0%), while non-URM women (60.5%) and continuing high-income students (58.2%) were most likely to report having an internship. Results from the logistic regression model indicate that significant factors are cohort (junior vs senior), GPA, engineering task self-efficacy, and engineering field. When controlling for the other variables in the model, gender, URM, first-generation, and low-income status remain significant; however, the interaction effect between these identities is not significant in the full model. Institution type did not have much impact. Having a research experience was not a significant factor in predicting the likelihood of having an internship experience, although studying abroad significantly increased the odds. Amongst engineering fields, industrial and civil engineering students were the most likely to have an internship, while aerospace and materials engineering students were the least likely. This analysis provides valuable information for a variety of stakeholders. For engineering programs, it is useful to benchmark students' rates of internship participation against a multi-institutional, nationally representative dataset. For academic advisors and career services professionals, it is useful to understand in which fields an internship is common to be competitive on the job market and which fields have fewer opportunities or may prioritize research experiences. Ultimately, for those in higher education and workforce development it is vital to understand which identities, and intersectional identities, are accessing internship experiences as a pathway into the engineering workforce.
Atwood, Sara A.; Gilmartin, Shannon Katherine; Mostoller, Anna M.; Chen, Helen L.; and Sheppard, Sheri, "Internship Prevalence and Factors Related to Participation" (2021). Faculty Publications. 807.