Academic journal article Journal of Entrepreneurship Education

Creating an Entrepreneurship Internship Program: A Case Study

Academic journal article Journal of Entrepreneurship Education

Creating an Entrepreneurship Internship Program: A Case Study

Article excerpt


Internships have become a well-established type of active learning that is particularly useful in an applied field such as business. This research addresses a unique situation in which a program was renewed to exclusively assign students to work with entrepreneurs. Using a case research methodology, we address the issues associated with operating an Entrepreneurs hip Internship Program. We describe the efforts of one of the authors to develop and grow an existing internship program at a regional university in the Southeast. We describe the process of renewing an existing internship program with a mandate to improve it. We discuss insights gained through implementing the undergraduate entrepreneurs hip intern program and offer suggestions to those that may wish to implement an entrepreneurs hip internship program of their own. We conclude with observations on the practical implications of this study as well as a brief commentary on future research.

[Keywords: entrepreneurship, internships, business education]


An internship is "controlled experiential learning where a student receives academic credit while employed by an organization in a chosen area of interest" (Stretch & Harp, 1991, p. 67). "Experience continues to be one of the key attributes any entry-level professional can offer a prospective employer, and internships provide one of the best ways for the ambitious to obtain it" (Gault, Redington, & Schlager, 2000, p. 45). In short, internships often lead to jobs (Cannon & Arnold, 1998). Internships offer employers a low risk, try-before-you-buy proposition (Coco, 2000). Employers can find talent fairly cheaply or even for free (Clark, 2003). Internships also create linkages (Neumann & Banghart, 2001; Tovey, 2001; Update, 1999) and dialogue between faculty and members of the business community that have been increasingly identified as highly desirable (Pearce II, 1999). Many employers have embraced internships as a valuable recruitment tool (Cannon & Arnold, 1998; Schmutte, 1985).

While internships have gained some attention in business education literature, they have focused almost entirely on student internships without acknowledgement of differences among small, medium, or large-sized businesses. This situation is rather surprising considering the sheer magnitude of small businesses in the United States. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), over 99% of all businesses in the country may be classified as small firms, according to the Small Business Act (The State of Small Business 2009) 1.

It is most likely that many of the student interns that were the subject of previous research on the subject were assigned to work for entrepreneurs. However, the extant literature is devoid of any research on working as an intern with an entrepreneur versus working as an entrepreneur for a more established firm where there may be vast differences in organizational cultures (Deal & Kennedy, 1982; Geertz, 1973; Schein, 1992; Trice & Beyer, 1993) and thus the very nature of the internships and experiences therefrom. Accordingly, this present paper constitutes on effort on the part of the authors to provide an initial contribution with the hope that future scholarly researchers will be encouraged to address an apparent gap in the literature that is specific to entrepreneurship internships. While the emphasis of this present paper is on developing an entrepreneurship intern program, some considerations from the point of view of students and entrepreneurs are also discussed.

Using a case methodology (Eisenhardt, 1989; Marsick & Watkins, 1997; Stake, 1994), we describe the efforts of one of the authors to develop and grow an existing entrepreneurship intern program. We briefly review the extant literature with an emphasis on literature about student internships as a whole, including some references to literature on entrepreneurship education in the U. …

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


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.