Academic journal article Management Accounting Quarterly

The Value of Student Internships and Faculty Residencies

Academic journal article Management Accounting Quarterly

The Value of Student Internships and Faculty Residencies

Article excerpt

While numerous studies have rigorously demonstrated the value of student internships, the same cannot be said about faculty residencies. (1) This article builds upon recent research to further understand the value and roles surrounding student internships and faculty residencies, especially in how they enhance the quality of the learning experience. For students, the benefits of an internship are well-documented, particularly with respect to soft skills and professional development, but those benefits can further increase when faculty members have also held internships or residencies or otherwise have had professional or industry experience after completing their degree.

No doubt many readers have had classes from well-versed, well-published faculty members who rigorously earned their degrees, including a doctorate, but never had an on-the-job experience as an accountant, attorney, corporate manager, information system professional, and so forth nor held any other significant real-world employment position. In fact, the percentage of accounting faculty with a certification, such as the CMA[R] (Certified Management Accountant) or CPA (Certified Public Accountant), is at a 30-year low. (2) Thus, virtually everything these faculty members teach may be based primarily on research and textbook materials. While technically competent, these faculty members also may have lacked the practical real-world experience to make the textbook come alive in class and to establish practical relevancy of the material to their students.

We begin with a review of internship research that emphasizes soft skills and the student's professional development. We then consider the student's technical skills. Rounding out the discussion is the need for classroom instruction to be informed, in part, by on-the-job experiences, such as faculty residencies. This synthesis of soft and hard skill development--framed within the synthesis of student internships and faculty residencies--appears in Figure 1.

To the extent that examples of residency experiences can serve to inform both academics and practitioners seeking collaborative opportunities, we will discuss several cases where faculty residencies provided for greatly enhanced learning experiences. The cases demonstrate how faculty residents applied generally accepted auditing standards (GAAS) and critical thinking skills to discover areas of concern related to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), corporate policies and procedures, and ethical issues. Such technical experience can enhance faculty instruction and complement the developmental value of student internships.


The value of internships as part of a student's education and career preparation has long been the topic of researchers and the popular press, with one recent headline proclaiming: "Internships: The Ultimate Return on Investment for Today's College Student." (3) In a review of numerous studies, researchers determined that internships not only impact students, but they also provide multidimensional benefits to employers and schools. (4) While not exhaustive, Table 1 summarizes the variety and types of benefits as they affect different stakeholders.

A recent study offers evidence of the mutual importance of internships to both students and employers. (5) The researchers submitted fictitious resumes to business-related jobs and found that--while having a business degree did not affect employment prospects --internships did improve prospects, apparently exhibiting an implied value to employers. Recent statistics emphasize this implied value about employer-driven enticements and competitiveness. For example, the August 31, 2016, edition of The Wall Street Journal reported on the increase in job benefits for interns, such as health insurance, as well as a record level of offers to interns. (6) One researcher points out the increase in the percentage of interns who are paid vs. …

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