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Internship is more than just photocopying

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It isn’t a new practice for undergraduate and graduate level students to do internships to build experience. But when it comes to business students in Nepal, internship has become synonymous to “photocopying job”. Students complain that most organizations hire interns just to make them do useless office errands that will never help build their careers.

What many students fail to realize is that internship is much more than a chore that you need to complete to earn credits for your course.

Internships give you opportunities to test and practice the theories learnt in classrooms in real-life working scenario. These are opportunities for students to acquire, grow and sharpen the in-demand work skills. Listed below are some recommendations for students to get the most out of their internship period.

Why internship?

Internship is your primary weapon to help you break the vicious cycle of “No experience without job, no job without experience”. It gives you the flavor of the real professional working life. The experience of an organizational environment and a working culture can be best learnt during your internship period. While working as a full time staff, you get the responsibility to demonstrate your capabilities to show a visible impact. But working as an intern, you are relieved of that work pressure and therefore, you can shift your focus on just the industrial tricks-of-the-trade.

More importantly, internship helps build professional networks. A recent architecture student revealed she was able to secure a job at a reputed INGO due to the networks she developed during her internship at an engineering consultancy firm and regularly keeping in touch with those developed networks. Maintaining a good professional relationship with your internship supervisor will always prove to be pivotal.

What do employers really want?

There has been ample number of instances where the internee was hired full time by the organization after the completion of the student’s internship period. It can be thus concluded that internships are also an extended form of a role-play interview where your performance is constantly being judged by your supervisors. It is not only a platform to score good grades, but to secure a job after completion of your studies as well.

A right mindset and a learning attitude will always trump over the technical know-how skills. Having a right mindset is essential if you want to convert your internship into a full time job. A photocopying job should not be viewed as a ‘small’ or ‘useless’ job. An intern working for a commercial bank enjoyed photocopying – not because it was fun to be around photocopy machines but because he got to be familiar with documentation work. Leveraging this information acquired with “photocopying”, he was able to assist the walk in customers who wanted help with their paperwork. Soon he was hired as a full time floor manager.

Taking initiatives and going beyond the regular call of duty is something every employer wants from their employees. The same goes for interns.

Recently, a BBS student was successfully hired at a reputed advertising agency because she took the initiative to attend a client meeting along with her internship supervisor. The supervisor advocated for her full time job as she showed enthusiasm, assertiveness, a self-starting attitude and the willingness to take responsibility. Another BSc. CSIT student was offered a full time employment because he heard of a duplication problem in the system over the office lunch, and quickly provided a fix to the problem.
Employers do not necessarily look for extra-skilled people with jaw-dropping grades. A positive attitude and a right mindset along with fundamental technical/subject matter knowledge will work fine to ensure your smooth transition from intern to a full time employee.

Using internship as career compass

Internship really helps you narrow down choices in selecting a perfect career. It will confirm your passion and your love for a certain arena, or warn you to hop into some other field. Internship is not a committed employment, so it can be taken as a trial-job before confirming if you really want to spend time into the same field or not. It is like checking a few dresses in the trial room before you finally decide to invest on that dress which you really love, and at the same time, fits you too. This trial and error method will certainly help you navigate to a correct path as directed by your career compass.

Don’t limit your potential to just internship reports, and definitely not just to photocopying. Make the most out of the internship experience!

By Prayas Rajopadhyaya

The author is associated with Jobs Dynamics Pvt. Ltd., an organization driven towards providing the widest range of job solutions to people looking for work in Nepal. He can be reached at prayas@jobsdynamics.com.