Intern Appeal

• I did not give myself enough time to consider options for my internship (32%).

Remove or Reduce Barriers

Before examining how agencies can remove or reduce barriers for potential interns, it must be noted that some of the barriers students face are beyond the agencies’ control. For example, one of the frequent barriers listed was that students did not give themselves enough time to consider internship options. In many cases, students acknowledged they started the process far too late in the semester.

Student comments included:

• “There are so many things that need to be addressed when finding an internship.”

• “It was difficult deciding what to do.”

• “It adds a lot of pressure.”

Additionally, some students felt the university was unrealistic with deadlines, thus causing students to feel rushed to make an internship choice. Cleary, this is an issue for universities to address.

Payment and Stipends

Although paid internships make agencies more attractive to potential applicants, budget limitations may not allow for compensation. However, agencies may financially assist interns in other ways.

College students were asked to rate their internship experiences with parks and recreation departments. Photo Courtesy © Can Stock Photo Inc. / pressmaster

For example, when interns are not scheduled to work, there might be opportunities for paid part-time employment (e.g., food service, child care, front desk, housekeeping, etc.) on a flexible basis. Not only will interns be helped financially, but they can gain a better understanding of the entire operation.

Depending on what agencies can offer, incentive considerations might include free meals or the use of recreation programs.

Lastly, it’s always helpful for interns to learn of the typical expenses while working at an agency. In part, this will better prepare students to plan and adequately save for their internship.


Housing can be a significant cost for those who need to relocate for their internship. However, there are numerous, innovative ways agencies can assist interns with housing.

Depending on agency resources, some may want to consider working in collaboration with hotels, universities, and employees who already live there. Nearby hotels often provide reduced rates to students (especially during non-peak seasons) with a guaranteed stay of 10 to 15 weeks. Of course, the more interns staying, the better the rate to be negotiated.

Providing students with the contact information of other interns (with approval) is helpful. Interns can organize roommates and reduce the overall rental costs in advance of their placement. If a list of current interns cannot be provided, consider asking previous interns if they would be willing to be contacted for a housing referral.

Internships Far From Home

Because of this barrier, it is difficult to offer any concrete recommendations. However, the study suggests many interns do not want to travel too far from home. This, along with the financial constraints (e.g., the internship doesn’t provide a stipend or free housing), suggests there are multiple considerations in the decision-making process.

In other words, students may want to select a local internship in order to live at home and save money. Regardless, that opens the door for more local providers to consider how they might reach potential interns.

Lack of Time for Selection

“I did not give myself enough time to make my internship selection” and “The agency that I wanted to go to did not get back to me” were two recurring themes reported by students in the open-ended questions of the study.

Both the student and the agency have a role to play in the coordination and confirmation of an internship site. However, it is suspected that many students select an internship over others because the person in charge (at the agency) responded first. Ironically, these students are often the most motivated ones in conscientiously trying to meet university deadlines for site selection.

Regardless, both the agency and the student need to respond quickly to secure placement.

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