Fresh graduates looking for the 'six digit salary' dream job which will also ensure social status and the employers looking for the competent one having the balanced mixture of theoretical and practical knowledge to undertake professional challenges but rarely getting one — these two are the real but unfortunate contrasting images of our job market. The outcome is never-ending frustration from both sides. Aspirants are thinking about the requirements of the employers to be over- demanding, and the employers are finding the applicants to be under-qualified. However, there must be an intersection where the expectations of both sides coincide.
We are continuously saying that the professional environment is dynamic, and it is changing more rapidly like never before. We are expecting global standards as customers but are we thinking about global standards from the side of contributors?
Let us start the discussion from the side of the employers. Why are the employers asking for such a rigorous requirement? The answer is simple: they have no other option. To win the most substantial possible chunk of profit out of the cut-throat competitive market, organisations are bound to ensure all-around efficiency. Here comes the necessity of a team, which has not only the theoretical prudence but also hands-on expertise. Later on, there come more traits like flexibility, adaptability, diversity, etc. These are all required to face the uncertainty involved in business. Yes, 'uncertainty' that is the core reason behind everything. No organisation knows what challenge is waiting for it tomorrow. Therefore, it wants an army of its own to react promptly and accurately and to win the battle to sustain. Being an average player means to fuel up the risk of being extinct.
On the other hand, fresh graduates consider themselves to be well equipped because they have successfully worn the black graduation cap, which signifies their academic excellence. Now they are ready to be hired and groomed like a raw clay, which can be given any shape. However, the question here is: are they fully equipped? Let us dig into deeper.
Our current educational system may ensure that we can enrich our theoretical knowledge, but it offers us limited to almost no scope to relate that theoretical knowledge in a practical situation. As a result, we end up being calculators or to the highest, computers, which is armed with the most sophisticated programmes but no operator. In other countries, though the concept of an internship is very common, in Bangladesh, this is nothing more than an academic requirement, which needs to be passed somehow to get grades. But the philosophy behind an internship is to give hands-on exposure. In this country, the tradition is to do the internship only once; even that after completion of all academic courses. Nevertheless, it is impossible to use all the learnings of four years in a 12-week internship programme. The human brain can retain systematically learnt knowledge only if it is turned into a skill by repetitive performance. So it is not illogical to doubt how much students might have retained from the numerous things they have learnt over the entire tenure of graduation period when they have not applied it practically. Here comes the gap between theoretical knowledge and skill.
Moreover, in most of the cases, organisations do not allow the interns to apply all their learnt knowledge. They only allow them to work on the things they require them to do to cover up the gap between their need and availability. This is justified because firms are not meant to train up the interns.
So, what can be the solution? The solution is to follow the global trend. Undergraduate students are to do short internships after every semester to apply the knowledge they have gained so far. This is to let them solidify their learning and turn it into skill. Instead of one internship after four years they can do multiple internships throughout four years, each focusing on the things they have learnt immediately before. This micro-level experience will also help them to find out the gap in their learning. Paid internship programmes can help the students to excel their skills and at the same time can help them to earn without hampering study to finance their pocket money or other financial needs. This will also help the organisations occupy the interns. They will know the extent of the interns' knowledge and will be able to assign them tasks accordingly.
Now the question is why the organisations should employ the interns. Universities are producing the most critical resource for organisations — human resource. Without their contribution, it is impossible for the universities to produce the best. Nonetheless, this is the need of the organisations to have efficient employees, and this is why they must contribute to train up the best. If the universities fail, ultimately, the firms are going to suffer in the end for not having efficient people to do the job. So even for their sustainable existence, they cannot ignore this responsibility. Firms should start competing in hiring interns and developing them so that this may, in turn, give them a pull of chiselled applicants from where they can choose whenever they want.
Hence, there are two questions. The first one is to the students, "Where are you dreaming to have your internship in your next semester break?" Next one is to the employers, "This time, how many more future employees are you going to train as interns than your competitors?"
The writer recently finished his MBA from the IBA, University of Dhaka. He is currently working as a management trainee in Mutual Trust Bank Limited.
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