The Symposium on College Internship Research

The annual symposia on college internship research held at UW-Madison is currently postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We hope to return in 2021, so stay tuned!

Pedestrians walk up and down Bascom Hill as others enter the red doors of the Education Building at the University of Wisconsin-Madison during autumn on Oct. 20, 2017.(Photo by Jeff Miller / UW-Madison)

Past Symposia

October 23-24, 2019
Alumni Lounge at the Pyle Center University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Internships & 21st century skills: Exploring issues of language, equity and quality."

Symposium flyer

Presentation Materials



College internships can be valuable experiential learning opportunities where students gain experience, professional contacts, and 21st century competencies. Yet few venues exist for scholars, practitioners, policymakers, employers and students to learn from the multi-disciplinary research community and from one another about these crucial topics. 

Evidence is also growing that the quality of internship programs is mixed, that opportunities may be inaccessible to low-income and working students, and that some organizations lack the resources and expertise to implement high-quality programs.  While internships have the potential to cultivate the so-called 21st century competencies – such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving – few have examined whether this is in fact true and how programs should be designed in order to focus on these skills.  Finally, an issue plaguing both research and practice is that of language, with competing definitions and cultural constructions of both internships and 21st century competencies.

We invite researchers, career services and student affairs professionals, employers, advocates, college students, and legislators to attend this year’s symposium.  Come ready to learn and partner with your colleagues and:

The program will feature 3 tracks that run throughout the panels, breakouts, and workshops: Strategies for college-employer partnerships, Designing effective learning spaces for 21st skills, and Inequalities in the intern economy: Geography, major, and race/ethnicity.

Who should attend the symposium?

Speakers and Panelists include:

Co-Sponsored by WISCAPE and UW System



Event Summary: First Annual Symposium on College Internship Research
Symposium program

Friday, September 28th, 8:30am – 6:00pm
Pyle Center Vandeberg Auditorium, 121
UW-Madison Campus

Symposium Event Summary Report
2018 Internship Symposium Slides

Symposium Videos

Matt Hora Introduction
Elizabeth Zachry
Patrick McHugh 
John Nunley
Student Panel
Research Panel
Janice Kenyatta & Tim Alft 
Employer Panel
Audience members discussing with each other

The goals of the inaugural College Internship Symposium are as follows:

Mr. Jesse Outen (bottom)
facilitates a session on the impact of internships on firstgeneration minority students.

Janice Kenyatta shares insights on designing and
implementing internship programs.


Speakers who will be discussing findings from their recent research on internships include:

Carrie Shandra (Sociology, University of Stony Brook)  - Implications of offering course credit for internships
John Nunley (Economics, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse) – Employer demand for internships
Patrick McHugh (Business and Management – George Washington University) – Comparative analysis of French and US internship characteristics and outcomes
Elizabeth Zachry Rutschow (Senior Associate – MDRC) – Evaluation of the Great Lakes Career Ready Internship Program
Janice Kenyatta (Internship Manager, Northampton Community College)

Panels at the Symposium will also highlight the voices of students and employers who have recently been involved with internship programs, the value of translational or applied research to make empirical findings actionable and useable, and recommendations for future research, policy, and practice.

Audience: We aim to reach a wide range of individuals and organizations that are engaged in designing, implementing, and supporting college internship programs that include:

Symposium spoonsor logos

Co-sponsors: Interdisciplinary Training Program in the Educational Sciences (ITP) at UW-Madison, WI Internship Initiative (WI DWD), SuccessWorks (UW-Madison, College of Letters & Sciences).