‘The new degree?’ Constructing internships in the third sector

Leonard, Pauline, Halford, Susan and Bruce, Katie (2015) ‘The new degree?’ Constructing internships in the third sector Sociology, 50, (2), pp. 383-399. (doi:10.1177/0038038515574456).


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The recent economic recession has impacted substantially on the graduate labour market, with many graduates now struggling to find secure employment in professional careers. In this context, temporary, unpaid ‘internships’ have emerged as increasingly important as a ‘way in’ to work for this group. Yet while there has been much media and policy debate on internships, academic consideration has been scant. This paper begins to address this knowledge gap by drawing on a study of interns in a third sector environmental organisation. The research findings reveal that unpaid internships were rationalised through a complex mix of political motivations, career ambitions and lifestyle aims, but these intersected in important ways with social class. These findings are not only of empirical interest, contributing to our knowledge of graduate negotiations of precarity, but also of theoretical value, extending our understanding of young people’s agency and motivations in transitions into work.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1177/0038038515574456
ISSNs: 0038-0385 (print)
Keywords: youth, transitions, internships, third sector, recession, class
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Organisations: Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology
ePrint ID: 374623
Date :
Date Event
14 January 2015Accepted/In Press
12 May 2015e-pub ahead of print
April 2016Published
Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2015 14:54
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2017 06:38
Further Information:Google Scholar
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/374623

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