Internships enable students to acquire skills, which cannot be learned in the classroom environment, while employers obtain access to low-cost labour and reduced recruitment costs (Galloway, Marks, & Chillas, 2014; Holyoak, 2013; Maertz, Stoeberl, & Marks, 2014). Interns develop interpersonal skills, team-working skills, professionalism and customer management experience. Students also improve their communication, confidence and self-efficacy. Those with internship experience are more likely to find jobs and earn more (Saniter & Siedler, 2014). In the information technology (IT) sector internships provide valuable on-the-job training that helps students to develop entrepreneurial skills and prepares them for self-employment in this sector (Varghese et al., 2012). There is little evidence that internships can foster professional networks that facilitate knowledge transfer, although the potential for this is acknowledged.
The literature on internships is sparse and focuses on programmes run by academic institutions, mostly in the developed world, in collaboration with industry. The literature is located in academic journals, especially those that concentrate on education, and the emphasis is on student development rather than benefits for industry. However, this literature provides useful evidence on the impact of internships on skills development and employment outcomes. This review was able to identify only one grey literature study on an internship programme in Yemen. Internships are traditionally core components of academic programmes in the business, hospitality and health fields. However, the use of internships in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines has expanded (Galloway et al., 2014). The following benefits of internships for interns and host organisations are highlighted in the literature:
- Internships are useful for developing soft skills such as interpersonal skills, professionalism, confidence and self-efficacy.
- Interpersonal skills are valued by employers and interns are perceived to require less need for socialisation or training to help them adjust to the work environment (Holyoak,
- IT interns in the UK state that the combination of institutional learning and practical work experience is necessary to develop technical and problem-solving skills (Galloway et al., 2014).
- Internships were particularly useful for enhancing communication skills, team working, customer service skills and creativity among IT interns (Galloway et al., 2014).
- Internships increase the probability of finding employment but decrease the likelihood of postgraduate studies (Saniter & Siedler, 2014).
- Internships have a positive impact on earnings (Gault, Leach, & Duey, 2010).
- Internships provide useful labour at low cost to employers (Maertz et al., 2014).
- Recruitment and training costs can be reduced by employing interns (Dobratz, Singh, & Abbey, 2014).
- Internships have the potential to facilitate professional networking and knowledge sharing, but there is little evidence that this has occurred.
- Knowledge sharing is more likely to occur if interns who join professional communities are assisted by well–connected mentors who can help them integrate into the community
Evaluations of internships in the STEM sector reveal that women benefit less from internships. The lower proportion of women in STEM results in fewer female interns and the evidence suggests that internships may not be a useful tool for overcoming this structural imbalance (Varghese et al., 2012). In addition, female interns in Yemen were less likely to find employment after the internship (McKenzie, Assaf, & Cusolito, 2015).