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An empirical investigation of mentors’ perceptions of the role of sport management internships
The proliferation of sport and leisure programmes at Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) has placed increased demands on sport personnel with knowledge and skills that are specific to the sport industry. While HEIs might contribute to a student's knowledge, students also need to draw on skills and experience in the work industry. This experience is necessary since employers require employees to possess a range of personal and intellectual attributes. Experiential learning and fieldwork experience is therefore identified as a critical component in the Sport Management curriculum. This study examined mentors' perspectives of internships in the professional preparation of sport management personnel. Participants were 143 mentors (52.4% males and 47.6% females). More than a third (35%) had Honors qualifications or higher. The results indicated that mentors were happy with university students' level of theoretical knowledge regarding Sport Management. Issues such as feedback to students were identified as critical. To collect data, a 47 – item Likert type questionnaire anchored at 1 (strongly agree), 3 (neither agree nor disagree), and 5 (strongly disagree) was used. The questionnaire focused on mentors' perceptions of internships at various sport organizations. Included, were questions on participants‟ biographical data. It was found that the questionnaire items could be categorised into those representing students' self improvement, work experience and professionalism. The results further showed that mentors with high qualifications judged students' mentorship programmes favourably. They felt that this would provide them with an opportunity to improve their work experience under professional guidance. The study provides practical recommendations for organising Sport Management internship programmes in universities and proffers suggestions for future research.