Expectations of an undergraduate overseas business intern? Exploring the necessary school knowledge and personal traits

Ning Ding, Diederich Bakker, Tim English, Thierry Bonsing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


A business student’s overseas internship is a unique place to investigate what knowledge/skills or personal traits that are important for their future career. This research consists of two stages: (1) First, we qualitatively analyzed students’ internship reports to explore what knowledge or skills and what personal traits are perceived to be important; 90 reports were scrutinized and coded regarding company profiles, internship tasks and perception of important knowledge/skills and personal traits. We arrived at a list of 12 skills and 20 personal traits that are crucial for a successful business internship. (2) Then, we administered a questionnaire to identify what expectations companies have of student interns in international business. One hundred and seven international companies participated in the survey. Companies’ expectations are roughly in line with students’ perception regarding knowledge, skills and personal traits for a successful internship. The findings shed light on international business education by addressing the necessity of refining a school’s curriculum to meet the requirements of the business workplace. For business educators, the current research helps them to prepare their students better, mentor them more effectively during their overseas internship, and adjust the curriculum design to meet the requirements of that workplace.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-396
JournalJournal of teaching in international business
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 19 Dec 2019


  • higher education
  • international business
  • internships


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