An internship is job training for a career – by choice or by requirement. The two major reasons for an internship, as I know it, are:
· Job training
· Fulfilling an academic mandate
An internship can help a student to figure out if they are or will be interested in a particular career and may eventually determine if the organization they got placed in, is somewhere they want to work in after graduation.
Internships have evolved and some organizations have collaborated with Corporate entities as part of
· Corporate Social Responsibility
· Community Development
Over the years, students have benefitted as more and more, there is a paid internship. History has shown that an internship is an exchange of services and the academic institution is obligated to offer the student the stipend package to afford the students the opportunity. This stipend ranges from costs to cover transportation, meals and “pocket” money. More recently, some companies have offered minimum pay to the student. That said the arrangement should include some level of payment.
The internship programme, an international practice, varies based on the region, but the common thing is, the intention is to offer students an opportunity to get a taste of the work world.
As an undergraduate and graduate student I was involved in a number of internships for three credits at a time. This was in the 1995 – 1998 period. The first one was for my broadcasting studies. I got no pay, none. It was at CBS Radio 88 in New York City. I had to be at work before 5am as I was placed on that shift with the well-sought after Ed Ingles. I woke up at 3:30 for 15 weeks, one day a week and I got an A for the course. I graduated. For the same BSc I did another at Consumers Union in Yonkers and I got paid US$12 an hour. It was also a three-credit course. I also got an A. For the MSc I opted to work in the HR Unit on campus and I got US$8 per hour. I did get another A.
All three experiences were great. One was to connect to the industry…and by the way, I got Knicks, Giants and Rangers tickets for free. The 2nd and 3rd were more fulfilling as I got paid, but I was just as committed to all three.
Educational institutions in designing courses of study must decide how they want to integrate students into the work world in a changing economic environment. Internships therefore have to be a lien item on both sets of institutions.
The integrity of the internship programmes is to be judged on a few things
· Relevance to the course/s of study
· Value added for the student
· Impact of the organization of the potential workforce
· How does the country benefit from the exchange between private/public sector and academic development
It is also important to note the differences between an internship, apprenticeship, practical study and vocational study. All have benefits to both students and institutions. The programmes should have an evaluation component which looks at the benefits and downfall to ensure, going forward; there is an adjustment which is market-ready and impacting for all.