The Value of Internships for Students’ Psychological Needs


Internships are commonly used in degree programmes to expose students to the real-world applications of theories and to nurture students for their future careers. However, there is a current research gap about students' perceptions regarding the value of internships, particularly the fulfillment of their psychological needs. It was found that meeting students' psychological needs during their internships can enhance their well-being, motivation and engagement in work. This will subsequently affect their performance and eventually, their career decisions. This study was conducted to examine students’ psychological needs in internships in the context of a university in Singapore. A mixed-method approach was used to collect qualitative and quantitative data from 12 interviewees and 82 respondents respectively. This study also incorporates the self-determination theory that emphasises the importance of fulfilling psychological needs. The theory highlights three individual and basic psychological needs of autonomy, competency and relatedness. The research outcome shows that all three psychological needs are important to students. No other needs is mentioned by the students. However, while the needs are fulfilled frequently enough in internships, there are areas that the university and the industry organisations can improve in. The recommendations include curriculum review, structured feedback sessions with academic supervisors, formalised mentorship arrangement and more cross-departmental skill development opportunities. These combined improvements can collectively lead to a more supportive learning journey for students and a better retention of talents for the industry.

Author Information
Lee Keng Ng, Singapore Institute of Technology, Singapore
Vanessa Soh, Singapore Institute of Technology, Singapore
Clara Lim, Singapore Institute of Technology, Singapore
Geraldine Seow, Singapore Institute of Technology, Singapore
Juline Tan, Singapore Institute of Technology, Singapore
Clara Ann, Singapore Institute of Technology , singapore

Paper Information
Conference: ACEID2024
Stream: Learning Experiences

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon