The importance of internships
Internships can be of immense value to students, helping them gain insight into and some experience in the career path they are interested in pursuing. Internships are a good exploratory step into the adult world of work. They also function as an innovative and non-traditional approach to learning. While students sometimes take up internships simply to gain extra credit or strengthen their résumés before they apply for higher studies, in India, internships are mostly career-oriented. They are seen by students as a way to develop their capabilities by complementing their theoretical knowledge with practical, hands-on experience.
Prab Singh who runs CollegeSource, an organisation that provides counselling and support on higher education choices, opines that students should start interning during their summer holidays between class 10 and 11 – this gives them a good 2-3 years of internship experience to strengthen their practical knowledge and build their résumés.
Benefits of doing an internship
HeyMath!, an organisation that seeks to make the learning of mathematics fun and enjoyable, offers internships to high-school students. Harish Balasubramanian, Assistant Manager, Customer Engagement Unit, HeyMath! stresses that internships allow students to gain a good understanding of
how an organisation functions. Additionally, it serves to hone one’s interpersonal and communication skills. “In schools and colleges, students mostly interact with people from their own age group, whereas in offices there is a higher possibility of mingling with people across various age groups from
different backgrounds,” he explains.
There are many other benefits of doing an internship:
• Internships can help students explore where their interests can lead them in terms of a career.
• An internship will allow the student to test his career objectives.
• It provides practical experience relating to a particular career path.
• Students learn how to work with others in a team, and also how to work under someone else and be accountable for their work.
• People working alongside the student know that he is learning. So, the student will have more freedom to make mistakes and learn from them, without the fear of failure that comes with an actual job.
• Internships can help students network and develop contacts.
• Feedback from others, both good and bad, helps students improve their work ethic and learn more.
• It will also help the student acquire those essential practical and professional skills needed in the business world — employment skills — as well as life skills.
• Internships look good on a résumé, especially if the student is applying to universities of higher education overseas.
“In some careers, hands-on experience helps far more than studying theory. I am studying law and I chose to do an internship since I wanted to take up litigation in court rather than go into the corporate field. So an internship would help me understand what litigation actually involves,” says Shloka Narayanan, School of Excellence in Law, Chennai.