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African Journal for Physical Activity and Health Sciences

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An analysis of sport management internships: The case of two universities’ sport management programmes

J Surujlal, C Singh

Abstract


One of the responsibilities of higher education is to “develop the whole person”. Despite this, it is not possible for a higher education institution to equip students with every possible skill that they may need in the workplace. While some institutions provide practical knowledge as part of the training and preparation of students, most equip students only with the theoretical knowledge needed in the workplace. By adopting an experiential approach, students in higher education are provided the opportunity to apply theoretical concepts in practice. One of the forms of
experiential learning is internship. Most of the higher education institutions have recognised the importance of experiential learning in their programmes and have included internship as an integral component of the programme. Very little research, particularly in South Africa, has been
conducted focusing on the sport management internship from the viewpoint of the student. In response to the dearth in the literature, especially in South Africa, this study attempts to explore the sport management internship through a qualitative process. An appropriate literature study which included both national and international sources was conducted on cooperative education in general, as well as internships of sport management students in particular. In addition, a qualitative and exploratory approach was used to access information from interns regarding sport management internships. Using purposive sampling, ten informal one-on-one semi-structured interviews lasting about 30-40 minutes with five male and five female students from two
institutions who had just finished their internship in the past 12 months and were in the process of handing in their logbooks were conducted to gather data regarding their internship. A priori dimensions were used to seek information regarding the administration of the internship, the
relevance and applicability of the coursework for their internship, working conditions, development, expectations of the interns of their internship and interns’ suggestions to improve their internship experience. Most of the interns’ (n = 6) period of internship was six months fulltime,
while the balance of the interns’ internship period was five months. The main jobs that the interns performed during their internship was fitness instructor (n = 4), sports coordinator (n = 2), sport administrator (n = 1), general duties (n = 1) and facility management (n = 2). All interns
had male mentors. The results indicate that interns overall benefited from the internship both at a professional as well as at a personal level. There were some concerns raised by interns that warrant attention from institutions.



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