Mehmet KAŞLI*, and Mehmet Oğuzhan İLBAN**
*Assoc. Prof. Dr., Eskişehir Anadolu University, Faculty of Tourism
**Assist. Prof. Dr., Balıkesir University, Burhaniye School of Applied Sciences
Problem Statement: The problem of this research is identifying the difficulties that undergraduate students experience during their internships and assessing their future intention to work in the tourism industry.
Purpose of Study: This research aims to identify the problems undergraduate students encounter as interns in tourism programs and to document their views on the tourism sector after their internships. The paper also focuses on whether the problems experienced during the internship program affect the students’ intention to work in the tourism business in the future.
Methods: All research constructs were measured using multiple-item, fivepoint Likert scales. Third- and fourth-year undergraduate students from two different universities who had completed their internships were selected for the study Balikesir and Canakkale universities were selected by convenience sampling, and the surveys were conducted with 330 of the 550 available students.
Findings and Results: Internship problems have four dimensions, though from a business perspective, the problems can also be viewed from two sub-dimensions. The findings of this study reveal that interns are given only very basic employee rights, that interns are viewed as cheap labor,and that the service business does not contribute to the professional development of interns. All these issues negatively influence interns’ motivation. The results of Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) show that problems encountered during internships negatively affected the students’ attitudes toward tourism-related jobs, which in turn undermined their intention to work in this business in the future.
Conclusions and Recommendations: The findings of the study indicate that the problems faced during internships have implications both for universities and businesses. Contemporary internship practices necessitate reconsideration by universities. Moreover, the findings show that the business sector does not provide the necessary attention, compensation, and professional conditions to trainees. Collaboration with educational institutions is necessary in order to improve the relationship between interns and tourism enterprises. The managers of tourism enterprises should understand that the interns are required to be there by their schools and that their opinions are shaped by this fact. Consequently, the managers should adopt a more friendly approach to interns, which will yield more positive responses and make the students feel more comfortable in the work place. The study was limited to third and fourth year undergraduates from Schools of Tourism and Hotel Management in Balikesir and Çanakkale because of time and cost issues, which also influenced the data collection.
Key Words: internship problems, intention to work, higher education, tourism industry