A-Z of internships: a practical guide
Do you wonder how an internship can change your life? Let me share with you Shadab’s story and tell you how one meaningful internship shaped his career. After graduating from National Institute of Technology, Jamshedpur, he joined a small upcoming start-up as an intern.
He was able to connect with the start-up’s culture and loved the work as he got to experiment and learn something new every day. In next four years, as the start-up grew to become one of the largest in its field, Shadab became Head of Employer Relations.
As we can see from Shadab’s experience, internships often act as a launchpad for a student’s career. They not only help students in making the transition from college to work life, but also brush up their skills. A student gains practical skills and hones her or his technical knowledge while learning the work ethics. Before you pack your bags to start your internship, here are some pointers for you to keep in mind:
What is your area of interest: Ask yourself this question before applying to hundreds of internships. It is always better to apply for internships that match your profile. Even if it takes a bit of time, you will eventually find an internship that would match your interests and skills.
Polish your resume: It’s the key to your internship. Keep it professional with crisp content and minimalist design. Update your contact details, provide the links to projects and mention your skills.
Gain relevant skills & improve your communication skills: If you want to give yourself an edge, learn new skills which are relevant to the profile. At the same time, work on your soft skills — English is the language of the workplace today. Have a good command over vocabulary and grammar as this will help you write strong applications, cover letters, emails and reports once you start work.
Follow-up: After your interview, wait for a week or so and drop an email to the interviewer if you don’t get an immediate response.
Being an intern comes with its share of responsibilities and these are some tips to make the best of your internship.
Take initiatives and contribute: This is your opportunity to learn and you are in charge of how much you learn. While you learn, don’t shy away from sharing ideas and viewpoints.
Respect deadlines: Unlike a college project, the delay can cost the company and your career a lot.
Network: Get to know people outside your immediate team. You would be able to build a network in your industry, share ideas and learn from them.
Ask for feedback: This will be a great way for you to learn and improve continuously.
Colleges and teachers too play an important role in shaping careers of students. Recent trends show that a growing number of colleges are including internships in their curriculum. A recent study shows that close to 80% of engineering graduates in India are not employable and the reason behind this skill gap is that fresh graduates lack relevant skills required for the job. The colleges in India can help in lowering this gap by enforcing the following measures:
Internships for all: Instead of focusing only on fourth year students, colleges can encourage students from all years (sooner the better) to apply for internships. Internships give practical exposure to students preparing them for their dream job.
Include internships in students’ curriculum: Making internship mandatory in the pre-final year will give students an opportunity to test their skills and enter their ‘first job’ before the actual job. Over 44% internships come with Pre-Placement Offer (PPO), and this would help more students to turn their internship into a full-time offer.
Work from home internships: At the time when 75% attendance is mandatory, colleges can encourage students to opt for ‘Work from Home’ internships or virtual internships. Dedicating a couple of hours daily for an internship will give the students the same benefits — learning opportunity, work experience and a stipend.
Encourage students to take up online training: There are a plethora of online courses (some even available for free) helping students learn new skills, work on different tools, and read about new technologies.
Parents can instill in their child a passion for learning and experimenting with new things. These are some reasons why you should encourage your child to go for an internship:
Your child may be confused with her or his career choice. In that scenario, let him or her go for internships.
When your kids step out for an internship, they may travel to another city and be exposed to the world. Learning life skills early on in life will guide them to success. They would appreciate hard work, learn the importance of hard- earned money and acquire soft skills.