Don’t Take Internships Lightly!

Dr. Shahid Amin Trali

A major problem that students face when they apply for entry level jobs is the lack of job experience. But this problem can be very much solved by taking an effective internship program. An internship is an official program that is offered by a company or an employer to the aspiring employees. It is a structured work experience related to a student’s major and/or career goal and is an experience that enhances a student’s academic, career, and personal development. The concept of an internship has evolved from medieval apprenticeship where a skilled laborer would take on and teach a young person their trade. In exchange for being taught a trade, the apprentice would give the consent to work for a specified length of time. An intern may be found working in a company as a part time or full time for a specified period of time. Internships are both paid and unpaid but most are unpaid. Internships are very critical for the students who need to gain valuable work or research experience. Most of the professional courses have made it mandatory for students to take an internship program for the completion of their degrees. The student is not there to earn money, but rather to earn valuable knowledge and experience.
Nowadays employers prefer candidates who could easily stand out from the crowd. Students aspiring for good jobs must complement their academic strengths with a range of other experiences such as being involved in community services, developing research experiences, participation in curricular and co-curricular activities and undertaking internships and so on.
An internship offers candidates the chance to learn by doing in a setting where they are supervised by a work-place mentor and have the opportunity to achieve their own learning goals. The interns learn job traits easily without any pressure and the responsibilities of being a permanent employee. They learn new skills and add to their knowledge base while gaining more confidence in their abilities. They find enough opportunities to practice communication and teamwork skills. They will also gain industry knowledge first hand from an organization and professionals. The internships help students to apply some of their ideas learned in the academic institute and provide a bridge between academic institute and the professional world. The hands-on work experience interns receive is invaluable and cannot be obtained in a classroom setting, making this one of the most important benefits of internships. The interns develop a strong sense of accomplishment by contributing to an organization.
Internships also offer strengths to establish a network of professional contacts, mentors, and references. It helps achieve valuable experiences and accomplishments for the candidates to add to their job resume and/or enhance their applications for the higher studies and the research positions. Internships can create a significant impact over other applicants for job positions and the higher studies. Internship experience makes students more marketable as they usually require less training and costs. They have an edge over others to handle job pressures and deadlines. If the internship is done meticulously, there is a chance for a full-time job offer at the end of the internship. Interns may also receive a good salary than those who do not have internship experiences. Internships build confidence and make students job fit and ready.
It is a fact that internships are beneficial both for students as well as employers. For students, money must not be the objective at least at the start of their career. For a fresher learning and experiences on job matters most and pays big rewards in future. For employers they can save plenty of costs using interns’ effectively and in smart ways. Internship is a way for companies to test out an employee before committing to hiring them. Interns need to ensure safety, security of the data and the assets and respect the privacy of the internship providing organizations. They must win the confidence of the employers that they are no less than the permanent members of the organization. It’s through winning trust only they will be given ample opportunities to learn and develop.
One serious trend is on the rise that neither the students nor the employers are taking internships serious. Students take it casual and easily give up if they don’t find the organizations cooperative. When the rewards and perks are missing, they find it harder to work beyond limits. Some students just approach organizations and arrange certificate of completion of internship and do nothing to improve their skills. Employers on the other side do not cooperate with the interns and make them suffer. Organizations have a strong responsibility to cooperate and contribute towards the progress of interns and support them as much as possible. Interns must note that today employers and organizations mean work and productivity. They can’t win any game dishonestly and with short cuts. They must work hard and try their best as much as possible. Interns can learn a lot about their strengths and weaknesses during an internship. They must never hesitate and ask questions, observe, and take risks to get the most out of their internship training experience.
Small businesses can benefit highly through offering internship programs. Such initiatives should be launched with due care and planning. Organizations must be clear with what they want to achieve through internships. They should ensure that interns will have an opportunity to receive meaningful feedback on their performance. Interns must be monitored by enthusiastic people who have time to tackle the responsibilities associated with the job.
I got an internship opportunity during my MBA program with few of my friends some ten years back in Godrej and Boyce, Interio Division, Okhla New Delhi. We were from the less exposed state of Jammu & Kashmir. I remember big support and mentoring from our Guide Mr. Manoj Singla (Sales Manager) and the brilliant officials at Godrej and Boyce, Interio Division. Such was the excitement that on day one in Delhi, we were given a research assignment and started our work. The two month research demanded us to reach to the nook and corner of Ghaziabad and Faridabad. We targeted individual households and offices to collect data and measure brand awareness for Godrej and Boyce, Interio. We faced strong rejections from customers while collecting the data.
At times it was terrible to meet some customers but then there were also people found who were too good and too cooperative. We worked honestly and without any excuse and were highly appreciated. Our Guide was cooperative and a learned person. The stipend that was paid by the company was small than our huge costs in Delhi. But then every experience was building our strength and skills. Later we realized that the costs for our internship were less than the huge benefits produced by it. It was great to learn that it’s the performance that matters most with the organizations rather than the academic grades. As a faculty member in a University, I mostly find that the students who are serious with their internships come back strongly and brimmed with confidence. Moreover it is also found that once they complete their degree courses, it takes a short time for them to secure a job as compared to ones who are non-serious with their internships.
It’s not easy to find an internship and requires much time and effort. Nowadays employers have initiated the selection process to offer the internships in order to get the best interns. There are a number of websites that students can use to find internships. LinkedIn is one among the good source where students can open an account and some of the best internships can be found through networking on this site. Indeed.com is another popular site for internships. Internships.com is also one of the most popular websites for finding an internship. It offers broad search options regarding internships like industry, location and so on. Students should wholeheartedly pursue an internship. The reason is employers overwhelmingly point to internship experiences as one of the most important factors they consider in hiring college students for full-time positions.

—The author is an Assistant Professor in ITM University Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. He is also a Career Counsellor and Educator at Unacademy and can be reached at: dr.shahidamin15@gmail.com