The value of Internship

2ed0547In Uganda today, it is as frustrating to get an internship placement as it is to get an actual job yet about 10% of those internships when gotten finally mature into tangible full time jobs. As the semester nears its climax, I figured it would be helpful if I told you a thing or two about why you should do internship in the forthcoming holiday provided you are off session.

An internship is a work related opportunity that places an individual in a company setting where they are given assignments directly related to an area of study or career interest usually for a part-time and last for the length of an academic term or semester and lately, most universities including UCU require at least a semester of supervised internship of every student.

It is basic for a writer to tell a story and before I delve into the thesis of this article, please do allow me the opportunity to interest you with a life story. A Mass communication student at Uganda Christian University (UCU) decided to join his dream media house; Daily Monitor as an intern in March 2013, he did as instructed knowing not about what he was about to land into. A month later, the bureau where he was doing his internship was honoured to host the then Chief Editor Mr Daniel Kalinaki and before he left the bureau, that student had upgraded his status from Intern to employee with full logistics and benefits. That student is the writer of this article.

Just like him, you too have the opportunity this to use your internship make you dream come true if you at least do most of the following and importantly is treating the internship as an actual job. Several interns often tend to absent themselves without reason or even worse show up late daily just because it is an internship. As if that is not enough, they will spend most if not all of their time at office checking their Facebook instead of networking and interacting with the existing employees.

Although there is no obligation for a company to later hire an intern as a full-time employee there are those situations where this happens. The internship becomes a pre-recruiting tool that allows an employer to see how well an individual fits into the culture of the company. Past interns provide an excellent pool of potential candidates from which to choose when a job position opens. As an intern, you can achieve this through adaptation, delivery and importantly, networking. Networking with co-workers is an essential part of your internship for it will not only bring out your team spirit, it will also expose you to new ideas, thoughts and actions which might come handy as you get along at work.

Establishing a network of contacts, mentors, and references will be of value for future letters and support as it is more compulsory in contemporary times to submit a curriculum vitae with at least three professional referees all of which you could accumulate at your place of internship.

I should perhaps point out that there are some companies who like to have an extra person around to sort the mail, fix coffee, and run errands. However, these types of experiences do little to engage one in the application of their skills. A good internship will encourage you to stretch yourself by expanding your knowledge and applying your skills so care must be taken in arranging an internship.

It is therefore best that when arranging for a credit based internship to work with a credited advisor or probable supervisor to locate a field experience that will facilitate your personal growth takes time and a good advisor can help.

A good internship will therefore help you gain experience by applying your knowledge and skills in work related situations. You will learn what you can do and what you need to work on in your studies which will in turn help you gain confidence in your own abilities.

Through internship, you will not only learn how to clarify your career goals with professionals which will help you make a decision but will also expand your knowledge by seeing how others problem solve and from this you will gain the practical real work experience that employers like to see on a job candidate’s resume.

It should be obvious for one to note that today’s job market is very competitive. Individuals who have completed one or more internships during their academic study are more likely to fit-in to the world of work. They know something of the media business and have knowledge of employer expectations. Being able to list work experience on a resume helps one get their foot in the door when applying for a job position in the future.

It is useless however to explain to you how of value an internship is without elaborating you will be able to harness this value. My conclusion will therefore exploit some very basic things to keep in mind but are often overlooked by student interns: (1) Be on time. (2) Dress appropriately for the work setting, (3) Don’t complain about others – avoid the human habit of gossiping. (4) Thank your boss when appropriate for his/her guidance and assistance. You are taking a boss’s time and if he/she is willing to help you, be appreciative of the effort.

And lastly take advantage of an internship experience to learn as much as possible about how an organization functions. Try to understand the culture in which you are interning so that in future if you graduate and are unable to find employment within a few months, you might think about undertaking another internship.

The writer is an alumnus of UCU, Editorial Director of The Transparent Magazine.


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