Internships: What, Why, Where And How To Get?

Posted on December 9, 2010 in Education

By Shashank Saurav:

The Winter vacations are almost at hand and many of us are ebullient about returning home, meeting our parents, enjoying home-cooked food and relishing the lethargy that we develop when we are staying at home. For me it isn’t winter here (Goa) or where I will be going for the vacations. But nevertheless, I cannot let go this opportunity of being careless and irresponsible as well as gay (no pun intended) at the same time.

For almost all engineering college students winter vacations turn out to be the only time in the academic calendar when they are able to relax, refresh and recharge their minds. Although they are shorter in duration when compared to summer vacations, they are much more endearing. That is because these are actual holidays and fun times. Summer vacation has simply become a mask behind which is concealed the continuous slogging and labor required at internship programs or training centers.

Even though the global economic meltdown has almost frozen, most colleges still have difficulty in finding takers for their student populace. This job crisis forces students to seek shelter elsewhere. And most of them end up in different places with the intention of modifying and not necessarily improving their resume, through internships. Pursuing an internship without having adequate knowledge and interest, in other words, undergoing training just for the sake of it helps neither party. The student is not only frustrated with his fruitless attempts at acquiring industrial skills but also ends up inviting the ire of the employer. Hence in order to avoid such dire consequences, one must know his/her limits and then decide upon the right time to do an internship.

All these thoughts flooded my mind, when I saw my batch mates looking to expedite matters by applying in different companies for summer training programs. Certainly many of them are ready for it, but there are also the ones who are eager to join such a program because their friend is doing one. In fact some are so desperate that they are willing to shed more than thousand dollars for doing a foreign internship. I call it desperation because their grades don’t allow them to qualify, so they are more appropriately ‘bribing their way into it’.

It is difficult to narrow down upon the perfect time to undergo training. Most students do it in their third or fourth year. At the same time it must be stressed that practical skills cannot be acquired through theoretical knowledge alone. Hence although internship is necessary, the bookish data will not help you sail through these murky waters. Going for an internship marks the beginning of your career and also your first encounter with the industry, so it must be completed with utmost care.

Some ground rules to keep in mind before going for an internship are-:

  1. Do a through background research of the company you are planning to work under.
  2. Make a list of the courses that you have done and try to see if they are compatible with the job that you are supposed to execute.
  3. Make sure that your communication skills are appropriately developed. In any work environment, communicating properly with your seniors and others around you is vital.
  4. It is always useful to have help and support at hand, so prefer to pursue internship at a place where some of your friends are doing it or have done it.
  5. Always remember an internship is a training program. You are not expected to display extraordinary workmanship. Try and learn instead of preaching to others (including peers).

While writing the article, I do not intend to carp about internships. In fact from what I hear and see, I am compelled to believe that a successful internship can most definitely pave the way for a white collar high paying job. However this is not the only means of attaining success. So unless you are convinced and feel ready, think before taking the plunge.

The writer is a Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz and also a student of BITS Pilani – Goa Campus.