The Role of Motivation, Perceived Constraints, and Constraint Negotiation Strategies in Students' Internship Selection Experience

Open Access
Batty , Kimberly Ann
Graduate Program:
Workforce Education and Development
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
December 01, 2010
Committee Members:
  • Dr Farmer, Dissertation Advisor
  • Edgar I Farmer Sr., Committee Chair
  • Craig D Weidemann, Committee Chair
  • Judith Ann Kolb, Committee Member
  • Andrew Justin Mowen, Committee Member
  • internships
  • higher education
The purpose of this study was to document the factors (i.e., motivation and perceived constraints) and processes (i.e., constraint negotiation) that influence students’ selection of and satisfaction with their internship choice. The study was conducted using a quantitative approach, which included a focus group, a pilot study, and a self-administered questionnaire. The sample for this study consisted of 92 undergraduate students enrolled in either the Recreation Management degree program at Lock Haven State University or the Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Management degree program at Penn State University’s main campus during spring 2010. The theoretical framework proposed by Hubbard and Mannell (2001) guided this study. Numerous colleges and universities offer undergraduate programs in Recreation Management that require students to complete an internship as part of their core curriculum. When selected carefully, an internship experience can be highly beneficial to the student. A successful internship provides students with an opportunity to clarify their interests, examine future career possibilities, and apply classroom learning in a practical setting. However, for students to be successful in the internship selection process it is important that they can first identify their internship motivations, perceived constraints, and how they might overcome these constraints. Results from this study indicate that students were highly motivated to complete their internship in order to graduate, to experience something new, and to improve their problem solving and communication skills. The results also suggested that financial constraints (e.g., the internship does not pay or provide free housing) were major barriers to selecting an internship for many students. Additional constraints identified were not having enough time to select an internship and being concerned that they lacked the necessary skills to be successful while on the internship. Furthermore, updating their resume and living with family and friends during the internship were two popular strategies employed by students as a means to reduce or eliminate constraints. Suggestions for future research include increasing the sample size thereby being able to examine similarities and differences within the study sample, collecting data from students in other majors who are preparing for their internship placement, and re-visiting interns after the completion of their internship to compare and contrast their choices for pre- and post-internship.