Is the future of internships online? An examination of stakeholder attitudes towards online internships

Amy Irwin* (Corresponding Author), Joy Perkins, Leah Hillari, Darja Wischerath

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The world of work is becoming digital, a process accelerated by the recent COVID-19 pandemic and resultant remote working guidelines. Online internships have become more popular in this context, and yet there remains a lack of research investigating how these internships are perceived across stakeholders. The purpose of this paper was to begin to address this research gap by exploring academic, student and employer perceptions of online internships with a focus on employability.

The research explored 156 stakeholders (53 students, 50 academics and, 53 employer/professionals) perceptions via a mixed-methods online study encompassing quantitative responses to internship vignettes, alongside open-ended questions designed to explore stakeholder attitudes in more depth.

Stakeholder groups reported similar attitudes towards online internships. Overall, online internships were viewed as valid, flexible, work experience, linked to skill development and likely to enhance student employability. However, concerns were raised regarding communication protocols and development, intern isolation and a lack of organisational immersion.

Practical implications
Based on the research, the authors make three recommendations to continue to enhance and develop the online internship experience: ensure multiple methods of regular communication between student and organisation, attempt virtual immersion in the organisation and assign each intern additional support beyond their immediate supervisor.

Based on a holistic and novel analysis of key stakeholders' viewpoints, this paper provides much needed insights and evidence on how to design and quality assure effective online internship practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)629-644
Number of pages16
JournalHigher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning
Issue number4
Early online date19 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2022


  • Online internships
  • Employability
  • Experiential learning
  • Employers


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