Bridging the soft-skill gap from education to employment through internships

Kim Stack Washor, University of Rhode Island


Employers express a growing concern that recent college graduates do not possess the necessary soft-skills to transition into entry level positions seamlessly. Educators are asked by employers and policy makers to provide instruction which would develop student skills in both the "hard" (academic and technical) and "soft" (personality traits and habits) skills required to be workplace-ready. The research study was designed to understand the degree to which internships enhance student soft-skill development, specifically in the areas of communication, teamwork, initiative, and, analytical thinking. Researcher-designed pre-post retrospective surveys were administered to students and one to corresponding supervisors to measure change in soft-skill development during a 13 week semester as a direct result from participating in an internship. 278 students (88%) and 287 supervisors (91%) consented to participate in the study and completed all of the items on the survey regarding soft-skill development. Macro level statistical testing using (MANOVA) was conducted to explore the relationship between the independent variable, time (13 week semester) and the dependent variables, soft-skills. Micro level paired samples t-tests were conducted on each scale and each item for students and supervisors. Results of the analysis of all soft-skill development items suggest that there are patterns among student and supervisor pre and post responses. Students and supervisors reported gains across all soft-skill development scales at the conclusion of the internship. Findings suggest that participating in an internship contributes to student soft-skill development.^

Subject Area

Economics, Labor|Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Recommended Citation

Kim Stack Washor, "Bridging the soft-skill gap from education to employment through internships" (2015). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3688828.