CCWT Publications


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What can we learn from longitudinal studies on the impacts of college internships?

Fangjing Tu
Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions (CCWT)
University of Wisconsin Madison

Literature Review #5
Internships have been widely considered as co-curricular opportunities that benefit students with hands-on work experience, smooth transitions to the labor market, and potentially better compensation. Current studies on the impacts of internship participation are mostly cross-sectional. Only a few studies in the research literature employ longitudinal research methodologies. Longitudinal research can be used to measure and understand the long-term effects of internship participation for students. It also provides more robust evidence for causal interpretations of internship effects. This literature review summarizes the main findings and insights from 11 longitudinal studies on the impact of internship participation, aiming to contribute to the knowledge about the long-term benefits and causal processes of college internships.

Graduating during a recession: A literature review of the effects of recessions for college graduates

Javier Rodríguez S., Jared Colston, Zhixuan Wu, and Zi Chen
Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions (CCWT)
University of Wisconsin Madison

Literature Review #4
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a halt of the economy worldwide. The U.S. job market experienced an unprecedented downturn due to the pandemic-caused recession beginning in March 2020. As a consequence, thousands of jobs across industries now face wage cuts. The unemployment rate rose above 20% in April with a temporary layoff share close to 80% (Bartik, 2020; Cajner et al., 2020). The future of hundreds of thousands of college graduates transitioning from college to the labor market has thus become a matter of great concern for students, career advisors, higher education officials, and policy makers.

Research on the work trajectories of those who graduate during economic recessions can provide insights into how college graduates’ lives are affected by finishing school and starting their working lives in the middle of a weak economy. Additionally, available evidence about what has taken place in previous recessions can inform potential strategies for students, administrators, and policy makers to cope with the economic uncertainty and career search obstacles caused by the pandemic.

In this literature review, we present a summary of the main findings from this body of research, aiming to contribute to the conversation about what students can expect and do as they start their professional lives in these difficult times.

A document summary is also available: Highlights of the literature review on the effects of graduating during a recession for college graduates: main findings and practical implications

Psychosocial Factors and Outcomes of College Internships: An Integrative Review

Iseult Gillespie, Jiahong Zhang, and Matthew Wolfgram
Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions (CCWT)
University of Wisconsin Madison

Literature Review #3
This review identifies key features of psychosocial factors and outcomes associated with internship participation for college students. The review examined 42 studies, the majority being quantitative and cross-sectional in design. Results indicate that a) since 2010 there has been an increase in the number of empirical studies of the psychosocial factors and outcomes of college internships in the education research, psychology and career development fields; b) The studies commonly focused on internships in business, tourism, and sport management fields; c) The authors cite a broad range of theoretical frameworks, including career construction theory (Ocampo et al., 2020; Pan et al., 2018), social learning theory (Anjun, 2020) and the job characteristics model (Stansbie et al., 2013); d) This review of the research identified several student psychosocial characteristics that may influence internship experiences and outcomes, such as emotional intelligence, proactivity, self-efficacy, and conscientiousness; e) there were positive relationships between internship participation and a number of psychological outcomes. These included psychological outcome measures such as increases in self-perception, perception of surroundings, and mental health indicators, career development outcome measures such as professional development, career adaptability, career commitment, and career exploration, and learning outcome measures such as GPA and skill development. These findings indicate that internships have profound psychosocial ramifications that should be taken into account in their design and assessment. The review may be beneficial to researchers, educators and policy-makers seeking to optimize student internships from a psychosocial perspective. Recommendations for future research and practice are suggested.

Community-Based Participatory Action Research

Baily Smolarek & Matthew Wolfgram
Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions (CCWT)
University of Wisconsin Madison

Literature Review #2
The Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions is conducting three student-led Community-Based Participatory Action Research (CBPAR) projects which involve our staff mentoring students of color in the social science research process, to develop a research inquiry into how students of color experience college and the transition to work. One CBPAR projects is with African American students at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, another is with students with immigrant backgrounds at Madison College, and the third project is with HMoob American students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The studies at UW-Whitewater and Madison College are in their preliminary stages, whereas the study at UW-Madison with HMoob American students is concluding a round of data collection and starting analysis of the data. To illustrate how CBPAR works in action, in the following sections, we describe how we have used it at UW-Madison with HMoob American undergraduate students.