Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Stephanie Hartzell


Alfredo Ortiz Aragόn


Nürşen Zanca


Requiring experience to get a job is a familiar adage because employers want to know that new hires can not only work but can relate with others in a specific environment. This qualitative, multi-method, interpretive study explored the virtual internship as an option to the in-person internship that also enables employers and students to work with others anywhere in the world.

Intern supervisors and student interns experiencing virtual internships were invited to share the breadth of their experiences in an online survey. Analysis of survey data provided interview topics and a prioritized list of candidates who might provide the richest and deepest account of their experiences during ensuing interviews. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was applied to survey and interview data to deduce how participants related during internships.

The principal contribution of this study is realizing that virtual internships are a meeting of cultures, the academic and working worlds, that student interns and supervisors may have differing perceptions about the internship and each other that needs reconciling to avoid conflict and to fulfill individual interests. A close working relationship is not required for easily definable work. When it is required, participants must take efforts to understand each other’s perspective, recognize they are not their role but are individuals, and that their relationship is part of a larger working community. It is incumbent therefore that they develop a relationship that works for all concerned, regardless of whether they are in-person or communicating via technology.