Date of Award

May 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership - Higher Education

Committee Member

Tony Cawthon

Committee Member

Michelle Boettcher

Committee Member

Matthew Boyer

Committee Member

Rachel Wagner


According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), career readiness “has been undefined, making it difficult for leaders in higher education, workforce development, and public policy to work together effectively to ensure the career readiness of today’s graduates” (2016, p. 1). Students rate themselves high for each of the career competencies and believe they are ready for the workforce. Employers disagree and state that students need more competency development during college. Exploring the misconceptions and miscommunications about the leadership competency could be a first step in closing the gap for all of the career readiness competencies.

By determining what leadership type best aligns with internship experiences from a college student’s perspective and an employer’s perspective could help in developing more productive and intentional learning opportunities. In this study, I compare the transactional leadership, transformational leadership, and servant leadership types as they relate to the internship experience. I find that students frequently describe leadership experiences using language aligning with transactional and transformational leadership, while mentors use language that does not align with any of the leadership types chosen. As Strong et al. (2013) point out in their encouragement for more leadership-oriented research, “faculty would gain a better understanding of their students and may better understand the leadership experience” (p. 182). As next steps, further research should be completed to see if other leadership types better align with the mentor comments.



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