The lived experience of interns and the journey toward self-authored career commitments
Roberts, Mary Joan
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Using the theory of self-authorship as the theoretical framework, this phenomenological study examined the connections between the internship experience and the development of self-authored career commitments in college students. In previous literature on self-authorship, Baxter Magolda (2001) and others had suggested but had not provided empirical evidence that the internship experience provides a crossroads or developmental challenge that could facilitate self-authorship, particularly as it relates to career choice. Eleven traditional-aged college students completed interviews and reflection journals to share their lived experience of completing an internship and then transitioning into their senior year and conducting their professional career search, which included both jobs and graduate school opportunities. This study provided evidence that when students participate in internships, they develop self-authored or internally defined career commitments. Four themes emerged when analyzing the data that answered this research question: How does participation in internships contribute to the development of self-authored career commitments of traditional-aged college seniors? These four themes were clarifying career commitments, establishing a professional identity, influences professional career search, and developing an internal belief system about career choice. Additional findings included what motivated the research participants to complete an internship and the value that they placed on experiential learning.
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