Date of Award
Master of Science
Exploring career options is a crucial component of the career decision-making process, with the internship experience representing an excellent opportunity to further explore and test students' career choices. This study used a pre-test/post-test design to examine the effect of internships on career decision, from the vantage of three psychological theories. The internship significantly increases self-efficacy, fosters realistic outcome expectations, and enhances goal-orientation, the three components of Social Cognitive Career Theory. Throughout the internship, interns experience the reality of work, learning more about their chosen careers and what the profession expects of them. The fear of the unknown is removed, allowing interns to gain confidence in their ability to be successful in a work role, whereby boosting their self-efficacy and promoting realistic expectations, leading students to develop career goals and to strive to achieve them. Through the internship experience, students are able to reevaluate their career choices, enabling career goals to be tested prior to graduation. The internship also increases career commitment relative to two of the four identity formation statuses outlined by Identity Theory. The internship increases career commitment between-subjects in the identity-achieved and moratorium status groups, demonstrated by varied career commitment levels between participants in each of these two groups. Within-subject differences in career commitment were also significant among those in the moratorium group, meaning that significant pre-post score differences were found among individuals experiencing identity moratorium. The results relative to Attribution Theory showed that the internship experience significantly increases the tendency for internal loci of causality and controllability. Through the internship, students realize that luck and task difficulty are less related to their success than their abilities and effort. As a result, they feel responsible for taking full advantage of the internship and hold themselves accountable for their career decisions. The results of this study have important career counseling implications, demonstrating the importance of encouraging students to engage in professional internships, promoting confident, thoughtful career decisions.
Laura Lynn Friesenborg
Friesenborg, Laura Lynn, "The effect of internships on career decision, as explained by social cognitive career theory, identity theory and attribution theory" (2002). Retrospective Theses and Dissertations. 17568.