Post-internship surveys of employers show USFSM students are career ready.

USF Sarasota-Manatee interns achieve high marks in career-readiness surveys

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: October 17, 2019

SARASOTA, Fla. (Oct. 17, 2019) – USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Career Services Office is helping students acquire the skillsets needed to succeed at their internships and post-college careers.

In a series of post-internship evaluations to measure career readiness, USFSM interns achieved an average career-readiness score of 95 out of 100 from employers based on several key competencies.

“Based on data we are pulling from these surveys, we can conclude two things: USFSM interns are of critical value to employers, and we now have a compelling reason to dig deeper and determine what factors are strengthening these scores,” said Ben Heins, coordinator of internships and service learning.

The post-internship evaluation is modeled after the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) SkillSurvey assessment, which emphasizes eight competencies critical to career success:

  • Critical thinking/problem solving
  • Oral/written communication
  • Teamwork/collaboration
  • Information technology application
  • Leadership
  • Professionalism
  • Work ethic
  • Career management

The 73 student interns surveyed were enrolled in an all-majors internship elective and required to complete at least one career-readiness “badge” corresponding to one of the eight competencies above.

Badges are earned through a USF online learning tool called the “Career Readiness Badging Program,” developed by Lynn Chisholm, director of the Office of Internships and Career Readiness, and Peter Thorsett, director of operations and strategic initiatives, both at USF in Tampa. The program is designed to help students better communicate their value to employers.

USFSM initiated the Career Readiness Badging Program in summer 2018 to help students, including those entering the workplace for the first time, acquire the skills necessary to succeed at their internships. The multi-credit course, called “Cooperative Internships,” or IDS-3947, was open to all majors and offered online for flexible scheduling. Students worked at their internships as they completed the course.

USF Sarasota-Manatee fair to ‘turn the tables’ on internships
Ben Heins

Heins distributed the 12-question Career Readiness Survey after the internships. All 73 employers surveyed about their interns completed the evaluations. By achieving an average score of 95, USFSM demonstrated that its interns are not only well-prepared to enter the workplace, but among the elite when it comes to career readiness.

The most relevant comparative national career readiness data can be found in NACE’s 2019 Job Outlook report, where recent graduates were scored across all eight competencies by their employers. The average score nationwide was 79 percent.

“With my colleagues, Lynn and Peter, the architects of the Career Readiness Badging Program, we will be studying control and variable groups of student interns this academic year,” Heins said. “If our hunch is correct, we think the badging program has something to do with their high evaluation scores and abilities to communicate their value in the workplace.”

Heins, Chisholm, and Thorsett plan to report their findings in summer 2020. The Career Readiness Badging Program continues to serve as a valuable tool for students beginning their internships. The Cooperative Internships class (IDS-3947) is still offered as well.

For more information about USFSM’s many internship programs, visit

For more about USFSM, visit

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