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The Relevance of Attachment or Internship to Tertiary Students – Ofori Michael

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Towards Securing an Industrial Experience: The Relevance of Attachment or Internship to Tertiary Students

The stress on experience is something that most organizations or industry players consider as relevant. To avoid the situation of employing people who have no experience at a particular job, who will not be productive, most organizations enroll their new employees in training in order to equip them with the relevant and requisite skills needed to perform at the job. What this means is that the organization will have to spend or invest some money with the aim of building the working capacity for their employees.

It should be noted that most of these organizations are working to minimize losses and to maximize profit, so allocating budgets to train new employees is not a desire. However, investing in upgrading the skills of existing employees is considered an essential part of human resource management. What is the essence of making this rendition?

The essence of this write up is therefore to opine the relevance of interning or attachment, what should be done and not done during your attachment or internship period, the misconceptions about internship, the risk of not interning, and the impacts of internship on career development. These issues will be discussed in the various paragraphs in no certain order.

Internship, according to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of contemporary English, is defined as “a period of time during which a student or new graduate gets practical experience in a job, for example during summer holidays or vacation.” The main purpose of internship is therefore to enable the intern gains practical experience in a job, which the student or new graduate wishes to be involved in the near future. The short period often spans within three months and a year, and it may be willingly taken, or at a duration of one’s choice. Now, let’s look at how internships are sought. Most organizations have it as part of their core duties to help train people especially Tertiary students, while they are still in school, so as to create a pool of potential employees for the organization in the near future. For this reason, internship or attachments letters are taken from a pool of various individuals, so as to help the organization select people who will fit in various job specializations.
Attachments are also sought based on a special relationship an organization has with various academic institutions. For example, a financial institution will align with School of Business’ and other financial related institutions, and then provide space for students from these institutions to come over and gain industrial experience. A media firm will likewise align with a School of Communication Studies or Institute of Journalism or Public relations or advertising, so as to provide opportunity for such students to come and have industrial experience. Although this aims at providing industrial experience to the student, it also serves as a training opportunity that an organization is rendering to its potential employees, though it can sometimes be humanitarian base. However, in most cases, most internship letters are received through Walk-Ins.

No matter what the mode of acceptance to practice in an organization may be, what you do and don’t do at the field of work during your internship period in the organization, matters as much. Always note that first impressions, last. You don’t report to work late as an intern. Treat your internship work as a real work. Your conduct must be that which is acceptable. Don’t go making suggestions based on what you always think or feel. During the few days on the field, a smart student will realize that what you learnt in class as a student is subtly different from what is done on the field of work. The dissonance is real. You just have to try as much as possible to adapt to new ways of doing the same things, and never be shy to ask questions. The dissonance helps you to learn that there is a real difference between the theories you learnt in class, and the reality of the work. Both class lessons and industrial practice are good recipes for success on the job.

You would also have to know that internships are to help you acquire industrial experience. Therefore, you must not expect to get paid. Some organizations try to provide some form of allowances to interns to be used for transportation but some organizations don’t. Don’t be a greedy soul by always looking at the short term benefits. Rather, let the long term impact be your target. Don’t gossip, be humble, and respect your supervisors even if you are older than them. Accept it when you are sent to go get the lunch for your boss. It’s a sure way of selling yourself as someone who actually respects authority.

Why should you devote time for internship or attachment, when you can use that same time to watch movies, sleep, visit friends, play video games, go on tours or travel to see granny and grandpa in the village, and what have you? The reason is that internship provides so much advantage to you, insofar as your education and career is concern. Internship provides you an opportunity to know what you are really doing as a student. Sooner than later, you will realize that your industrial experience will help you find out what you don’t want to do or really should be doing. “One of the biggest things I learned on Wall Street and at a big media company was that these jobs weren’t what I wanted to do with my life. Interning helped me discover this before I wasted two or more years of my life working in the wrong field for me.” (Forbes, 2012 Five Things You Need To Know About Internships). Internship will not only test what your real passion for the field you’ve been fantasizing about is but more so, it will help you identify which field you should really be looking at endeavoring. “my internship work at a community NGO helped me realize that I can work as a Conflict Resolution and Community Relations personnel with my degree in Religious Studies” said Beckley, a third year University student.

An internship gives an opportunity to meet new people and to network. Getting to meet and knowing the Human Resource Manager, Managing Director, the Director, Executive Producer, News Anchor or Editor, and Bank teller, amongst others, of an organization is a sure advantage. Getting to know even the security officer, cleaner, and other staffs of an organization is best, because they most often possess key information that may be hidden from some key officials of the organization. Encountering students from other Universities also expose you to other cultures and ideas. Be observant at the internship workplace because you might even meet your future partner there.
Internship has a great impact on your career development. Most job advertisements that are seen in newspapers and online keep stressing specific years or months of experience. The luckiest of the duration of work experience you would encounter may be six months. If during your educational life, you never interned or even participated in any career development seminar or workshop, bad news for you. Interning for at least two long vacations (Three months each) may meet a job’s requirement. Stating your work experience in your Curriculum Vitae (CV) puts you on your career path.

Industrial experience is what internships are all about, so I wouldn’t devote much time to explain this. In most tertiary institutions in our part of the world, there are not much available resources that give students hands-on practice on the theories they study. Hence, the only way the practical aspect could be attained is only through internship.

Most often than not, interns strongly have some mindsets that they must gain some opportunities where they are interning. Some opportunities include future employment opportunity in the organization where they are interning. While this happens sometimes, your expectations should not be on what you can get from the organization, aside gaining industrial experience. This misconception most often pushes interns to put on obsequious attitudes. This even sometimes makes some interns accept to do certain amoral acts with their bosses or supervisors, with the hope of creating strong links for job security. Always be conscious of the fact that although you need to work hard to determine what happens to you in life, some choices or misconceptions about certain things can rather ruin your entire life. Know that the stealing, eavesdropping, backbiting, sexual misconducts, amongst other things that you do for your boss will make them also to think of you as someone who has no value or principles. Also, the misconception that internship is a modern term for slavery is unhelpful, and must be gotten rid of.

These are some little thoughts I want you to ponder about as you are about to begin your internship this vacation. To all those who are already on the field, I wish you great experience. Don’t forget to share your experience with your colleagues when you get back to campus. To those who are taking paid jobs, it is necessary. Try your best to be descent in all you do. Don’t be too focused on the money, focus on the experience aspect as well. To those who wished for internship opportunities but couldn’t get one, know that there are 1001 things you can do to gain experience. Just read about it. “I devoted one of my long vacations in downloading videos on YouTube just to learn how to operate the Photoshop and Corel Draw software” recounts Raymond. Enjoy your experience! Greetings to all Communication Studies student of the University of Cape Coast, and the general students’ populace.

By:
Ofori Michael
Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies)
Level 400
University of Cape Coast

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