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New Study Captures Key Data on Quality of Washington Internships

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The Washington Center Publishes Results of 2011 Research

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Despite the rapid growth of internships during the past 20 years, surprisingly little is known about the nature and impact of internships today. The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars (TWC) recently conducted a study of Washington, D.C. interns to gain a better understanding of the range and quality of internship experiences in Washington, D.C., and to identify ways that internships can be improved.

 

The study, Mapping the Quality of Summer Internships in Washington, D.C., was conducted and analyzed between June and September 2011 by TWC in conjunction with a team of graduate students from the City College of New York. Researchers aimed to garner a snapshot of the D.C. intern population and to assess the quality and impact of their internship experiences. Most interns surveyed reported overall satisfaction and identified many elements of the internship experience that contributed to their professional growth.

 

Key findings include:

 

Receiving feedback from a supervisor was strongly related to perceptions of professional growth for interns; 88 percent of those who did get feedback said they grew professionally.

72 percent said that someone from their internship served as a mentor, providing them with regular professional and personal guidance, as well as regular feedback about the quality of their work.

86 percent of students said that their internship matched their academic and professional skills.

52 percent received academic credit for their internship, and 54 percent were required or encouraged to report to their college on their internship.

47 percent of Washington interns surveyed were political science majors, with another 14 percent majoring in international relations and 11 percent each majoring in economics and history.

29 percent of respondents interned in executive branch agencies of the federal government, with another 10 percent interning on Capitol Hill.

 

“As many as 80 percent of college students spend a summer or a semester interning before they graduate, and given the economic climate, internship experience has never been more important,” said Jennifer Clinton, TWC Chief Operating Officer and co-author of the study. “It’s essential to conduct research like this, so we can both improve students’ postsecondary education and better prepare tomorrow’s workers.”

 

The study points to the strengths and weaknesses of internship quality, and also to the need for more extensive study of the nature and impact of the internship experience and its connections to students’ academic experiences. The summer 2011 study is the first in a series of TWC research projects on the nature, quality, and impact of internships in Washington, D.C. and throughout the United States.

 

About the Survey

Mapping the Quality of Summer Internships in Washington, D.C. is a 2011 study conducted and released by TWC in conjunction with a team of graduate students from the City College of New York. The study was based off of a sample of 531 students interning in Washington during the summer of 2011. Data were collected and analyzed between June and September 2011. The study was created to gain a better understanding of the range and quality of internship experiences in Washington, D.C., to more clearly define what should be characterized as an “internship” and to identify ways that internships can be improved.

 

About The Washington Center

TWC is an independent, nonprofit organization that serves hundreds of colleges and universities in the United States and other countries by providing selected students challenging opportunities to work and learn in Washington, D.C., for academic credit. The largest program of its kind, TWC has more than 50,000 alumni who have become leaders in numerous professions and nations around the world. It was established in 1975.

 

Media Contact

Maha Neouchy

Maha.Neouchy@twc.edu

202-238-7706

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