An examination of comparative perspectives on international internships

Publication Name

Education and Training


Purpose: Work integrated learning (WIL) activities, especially internships, are essential for career preparation and development. This paper applies career adaptability and capital theories to examine how international internships help undergraduate business students in their career exploration, preparation and development. Design/methodology/approach: This study used data from 20 interviews, including 15 undergraduate business students from two universities in Australia and Thailand who undertook internships in Asian countries, three internship administrators across two universities, and two overseas internship partners. Thematic-based analysis using the Nvivo program and duoethnographic reflections of the internship coordinators in Australia was applied for data analysis. Findings: The data analysis indicates that international internship experiences facilitate students to become culturally savvy, build their international professional networks, enhance the level of self-perceived competency and cultivate a globalised career adaptability perspective. Research limitations/implications: This study contributes to theory-building within the WIL literature, international internship experiences, students’ career adaptability and capital. Practical implications: Although international internship opportunities are available to students, few students are willing to challenge themselves in a foreign setting. The study’s insights provide a better understanding of how university administrators could set up a task force of academics and professional staff to consider a cohesive resourcing structure for the long-term sustainability of the international internship programs. Originality/value: This study highlights how the international internships enhanced students’ globalised social, cultural and human capital and their ability to adapt to culturally diverse business contexts. The international internship experience can also increase student’s confidence to enter the global labour market and seek opportunities beyond their original country of residence.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access

Funding Sponsor

University of Wollongong



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