Learning to talk the talk - Preparing students for success during internships through communication workshops

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2 Scopus citations


This research paper is focused on the development of an intern communication workshop to provide students with communication skills that are often not covered in the engineering curriculum. Throughout the 2018-19 academic year, a survey was implemented to better understand the communication skills required of engineers on internships. Through this survey of over 160 engineering students, it was found that interns communicate most frequently with other engineers (i.e., in and out of discipline) and non-engineers with both technical and non-technical backgrounds. Further, the most common types of communication were informal conversations and discussions. In addition to determining the frequency of communication types, it was found that students learned more about these forms of communication during their internship than they did from their college curriculum. While this result highlighted a key benefit of completing an industrial internship, it also indicated a gap between the communication skills taught in the classroom and those required of a career in industry. To begin to address this gap, a workshop was developed to teach students key communication skills that are required for success in industry. All students completing an internship during the Spring 2020 semester were invited to participate, but attendance was voluntary. Skills highlighted through the workshop include: audience analysis (how to correctly communicate with your audience and understand their motivation), professionalism, digital communication, and team communication and management. Due to low attendance and survey completion rates, the effect of the communication workshop on student competencies could not be determined. That being said, students overall rated the workshop and workshop components as valuable. Prior to the start of their internships, student competency data (perceived skill level, confidence and nervousness) was collected. Perceived skill and confidence levels were similar for each communication type and communication audience, but nervousness did not follow these trends. To examine the effect of the internship experience on these competencies, post-internship data will be collected in the Summer of 2020. These data will help to further refine workshop content, as well as provide guidance to faculty about communication skills that should be more heavily addressed in the classroom.

Original languageEnglish
Article number948
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 22 2020
Event2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference, ASEE 2020 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jun 22 2020Jun 26 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© American Society for Engineering Education 2020.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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