When recruiters ask for two to five years prior experience just to apply for a job, fresh graduates have a hard time thinking about how they will bring this experience while applying for their first job. This scenario ends up being one of the significant reasons for the graduate unemployment problem. In Bangladesh, the education system is primarily theoretical knowledge-based and does not focus much on practical skill development. Internships, in this regard, can actually benefit both students transiting to the workforce and the employers of the organisations. Despite a few negative practices, internships are an incredible way to garner experience for the freshers.
It is often heard that there is a crisis of skilled employees, at the same time, there is also a rise in unemployment. With the Covid-19 pandemic and predicted economic recession, youths are warned that their career path and work-life settlement will not come easy. Competition is spiking, jobs are becoming multi-function oriented, and involvement of technology is already essential. Changes in the education system and delivery can be a permanent solution to these shifting issues, but the reconstruction is a lengthy process indeed. At this phase, internship programmes are on the way to reach the peak of popularity. Now-a-days, internships are not only for the development of job seekers and fresh graduates but for any student in undergraduate or even high-school.
While internship programmes add diversity to the recruiting organisation, interns also immensely enjoy the experience of being in an actual workplace out of the academic world, not to mention how it makes students confident and efficient in what they are learning. Shakkhar Biswas, a second-year student at IBA, University of Dhaka, voices this while sharing his experience of internship during his freshman year, "As a freshman, I always wondered how I would apply all this bookish knowledge into work and make something really happen. I wanted to have practical experiences. After completing two internships in two different industries, I have at least a 'bird's eye' overview of those industries and there are day-to- day small work lessons as well."
Students now-a-days attempt business competitions to taste real work problems, but that too does not equal what good internship opportunities can provide. As Shakkhar says further, "Obviously, there are business case competitions to give that kind of experience, but they are mostly made up scenarios to solve. Internship, on the other hand, helped me to see things from a different lens."
Networking is an essential skill in any job setting. Working with professionals can enrich a person, increase their confidence and provide them the necessary exposure needed to handle formal communication and etiquettes. Students involved in internship programmes get these added perks which they realise later on while going for a full-time job. Sometimes, internship experience helps in studies and courses of a degree as well.
Rifah Tasfia Tanmee, a final year student at IBA, DU shared her learning from internship experience, "It helped me in learning work-life balance as it involved working extra hours to balance course work, internship and everything else. I can also apply a lot of what I learn at work into my term papers and assignments." Rifah also states that internships can be a great way to break the fear of a formal workplace as everyone, in the team she was assigned to, was very patient about teaching her the very basics in detail.
Sagar Mazumder, an electrical and electronic engineering graduate from BRAC University-- who has taken part in several local and international internship programmes during his undergraduate life-- expressed his valuable insights, "An internship gives you first-hand experience in the field you want to pursue your career in. It prepares you for what to expect in your field and increases confidence in your work." Through internship, one can work on real-life projects and build valuable soft skills such as teamwork, communication, leadership, empathy etc.
Currently, Sagar Mazumder, as the chief operating officer at SkillHub, is providing internships to undergraduate students who are pursuing bachelor's degrees in the field of business and engineering. Through the various internships, he has understood what a candidate wants as an intern and which tasks and deliverables can help the interns build their resumes.
As the job market grows more and more competitive, students should figure out suitable methods to shun their theoretical knowledge to ensure their first organisational onboarding to be seamless. Organisations should also come up with better, more interactive, challenging, and exciting internship programmes to target Gen Z, because these young souls have to take the lead of the future world.
The writer is a sophomore at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka.
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