Experiences from Student International Internships: Taking a Step into the Real World?

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:55
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Sofia BOUTSIOUKI, University of Macedonia, Greece
Internships are designated as instruments that facilitate the transition of young people to employment and have great potential to contribute to the confrontation of youth unemployment. An intern is offered a unique opportunity to gain a hands-on work experience under close supervision and guidance in a corporate environment. Through such an experience interns are able to test their knowledge and skills and to develop their competences further, thus being able to integrate in the labour market easier. This paper approaches the issue of international internships for university students. It presents the findings of a survey which focuses on the experiences of university students who participated in such schemes. These internship opportunities were promoted and supported by a student international association. Students’ affiliation with this organisation introduces them in a global network of universities, which aspires the enhancement of youth leadership and civic qualities. Besides describing the particular programme’s structural details, the paper analyses the participants’ incentives in terms of space, content and expected prospects. Furthermore, it attempts to define the challenges that were confronted by the students during the internship, as well as the benefits they gained from their experience at professional, educational and social level. The understanding of the students’ perceptions and attitudes regarding their overall experience would be very useful. It would create awareness of the factors positively affecting the engagement of young individuals in similar experiences and, thus, would increase the probability of more students being attracted by a professional experience programme. Finally, the paper aims at determining policy interventions which would potentially reinforce the effectiveness and the inclusiveness of the particular international internships programme in favour of the students. The implementation of the appropriate policy measures would leverage the experience acquired through such schemes in order to improve youth transition to the labour market.