Interns' Business Communication Skills


An article in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly answers the question, “[W]hat are the differences in the perceived importance that business students and recent graduates place on various communication skills, and how do their perceptions compare with those of their supervisors?” A U.S. study compared responses from students working during summer internships with responses from their supervisors.

The authors conclude that both groups identify similar communication skills as most and least important. However, their views are inconsistent with what is emphasized in business communication textbooks and courses:

“The evaluation of listening and interpersonal skills as being the most important communication skills is not in line with what is traditionally emphasized in business communication courses.” 

The authors question the amount of time spent on document creation in business communication courses compared to other, more highly valued communication skills. At the same time, supervisors believe their interns’ skills are adequate for the workplace.

Cover image source.


  • Although interns and supervisors rated the importance of skills similarly, the authors question whether, if asked at the beginning of the summer, interns would have answered differently. What’s your view, and why is this question important for our curriculum planning?

  • Do you agree with the results of the study—that our curriculum may focus too much on document creation? The authors particularly site time spent on PowerPoint skills. How could the job or industry be a factor?