James Bury & Emi Iwasaki
Internships are commonly promoted as beneficial to students, educators, and employers, but the impact internships have on students’ perceptions of the tourism and hospitality industry are often not considered. It is imperative that students’ perceptions are investigated as by gaining a better understanding of them, more positive attitudes to the industry can be fostered. Using a questionnaire, this study investigated the perceptions of undergraduate students (n=77) enrolled at a university in Japan and found statistically significant differences based on internship participation. Twelve follow-up interviews with students who had completed internships were then conducted in order to explore the factors influencing those perceptions. By providing some insight into current students’ perceptions of the industry, it is hoped that stakeholders will be able to better understand current students’ attitudes and the impact that internships have on them, especially in the context of Japan.
Keywords: Student perceptions, student attitudes, tourism and hospitality education, internships, experiential learning.