The literature on internships (also placements) emphasises their importance in career development, even seeing them as a launch pad for graduate careers. Indeed, universities use internships to enable students to develop a range of skills and to help clarify and refine employment intentions and career goals. Traditionally, most internships have taken place in large organisations. More recently, however, policy‐makers have encouraged internships in small and medium‐sized enterprises (SMEs). This paper reports the findings of a British study and contests the unproblematic treatment of the relationship between SME internship and career intentions in the context of tourism education. An explanatory model is developed to show how an interplay of factors come together to undermine the influence of largely positive SME internship experiences on SME employment intentions. The implications of this analysis for both policy‐makers and researchers are particularly important at a time of upheaval in the graduate labour market.
- higher education