Academic journal article College Student Journal

Examination of a Paradigm for Preparing Undergraduates for a Career in the Retailing Industries: Mentors, Curriculum, and an Internship

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Examination of a Paradigm for Preparing Undergraduates for a Career in the Retailing Industries: Mentors, Curriculum, and an Internship

Article excerpt

Internships provide the opportunity to apply classroom theory into practical, hands-on experience while simultaneously developing skills that improve course performance (Daugherty, 2000). In addition, the experiential opportunity increases the probability for securing a full-time position upon graduation. The purposes of this study are to examine components of retail management and fashion merchandising internships offered at a large southern university and to assess how the internship program compares with attributes sought by full-time employment in the industry. Consistent with attributes desired in full-time employees, the interns were evaluated on 18 components. Measured on a five-point Likert-type scale (1=poor, 3=average, 5=excellent), supervisors evaluated interns related to four general areas: skills and abilities, work habits, professionalism, and career potential. Results revealed that 89% of the interns were perceived as "above average" or "excellent" on each of the 18 components.

**********

Employers frequently cite that many students lack practical work experience and that students' overall professionalism is underdeveloped (Knouse, Tanner, & Harris, 1999; Williams 2004). Despite the abundance of theories regarding why consumers purchase, how to motivate employees, and methods for maximizing profits, education alone does not prepare students for industry; college internships are designed to bridge the gap that exists between students' academic experiences and practical applications in the retailing industry (Henry, Razzouk, & Hverland, 1988; McCasky, 1988). An internship experience therefore helps to better prepare the student to be a viable recruit upon graduation by focusing on improving these deficiencies.

Students are provided with mentoring experiences which further strengthen their skills, solidify a sense of work ethic, and enhance confidence in job performance (Kane, Healy, & Henson, 1992). Skills include enhanced time management, corporate-specific communication skills, self-discipline, and an ability to initiate business related activities (Dennis, 1996; Kane, Healy, & Henson, 1992; Taylor, 1988). Students learn to consistently think in an analytical manner and apply all theoretical components to company principles (Raymond & McNabb, 1993). Mentoring offered during the internship provides students with a comprehensive understanding of the depth and breadth of career placement opportunities both within the organization as well as in the industries in general. Both the student and retailer are able to make long-term decisions regarding career placement based on the intern's career goals, work performance, ethics, potential long-term performance, and ability to assimilate to the corporate culture (Cuneen & Sidwell, 1994; Coco, 2000; Greenhaus, Callanan, & Godshalk, 2000; Swanson, 2001; Williams, 2004). The winwin scenario of the internship results in positive word-of-mouth promotion, and the advertisement generated from the internship program enhances a company's recruiting efforts, thereby acting as a tool for strengthening the pool in which to obtain qualified employees (Greenhaus et al., 2000; Pianko, 1996).

Employers have recently cited that many students lack practical work experience and that students' overall professionalism is underdeveloped (Knouse, Tanner, & Harris, 1999; Williams, 2004). As a result, internships have become an increasingly important component to the curriculum. Students earn credit toward graduation for participation in the internship. Domestic or international, profit or not-for-profit, corporate or entrepreneur, business to business or business to consumer, students have numerous choices in which to select the type of company that best fits their career goals.

Literature Review

Characteristics desired by employers

Personnel management research is studied extensively by academics and industry experts in an attempt to identify employee characteristics desired most by corporate executives (e. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.