It has been a tradition for employers to look for experienced personel when they want to recruit new staff. This has been a stumbling block for fresh graduates who are looking for their first employment post. However, most students acquire job experience through different ways ranging from volunteering to internship, which have proved to be very useful for fresh graduates in developing their skills.
For most employers, internship offers are one of their best test methods which can give them a proof that a fresh graduate has the capability to do the job as required.
According to gradireland.com, internships boost employability and helps a student to develop an understanding of how the work-field works and gains an awareness of his/her own skills and abilities. Getting a good degree is vital but being able to demonstrate to an employer that you have a wide variety of other skills will improve your employment prospects.
In the current economic climate, employers are looking for relevant experience which backs up your academic abilities and demonstrates your ‘soft skills’. Work experience highlights to employers that you have some understanding of what it’s like to work and that you will have gained some of the basic employability skills they want.
A Postgraduate student studying Civil Engineering at the School of Civil Engineering, Beijing Jiaotong University in China, Alinanuswe Mwakiluma, says internships help students get familiarized with employers and the work they are looking forward to.
Internship is a perfect time for ongoing students or fresh graduates to impress employers to the extent that they will put their names in a reserve list for an immediate recall when job opportunities are available. “In this way, a student who had a good performance during an intership period gets rewarded by being given employment,” he says.
He adds, “As it is known, many employers like to employ personnel who have work experience rather than employing a student directly from school.”
Mwakiluma currently works as a civil engineer at Tanzania Buildings Agency (TBA)).
“The information helped me when I was searching for a job. Sometimes one may directly communicate with the human resource department of those companies and when a vacant position arises, it is easy to be considered for the vacancy. One can easily recommend a fellow job seeker who is also in search of work depending that the vacant position is suitable for them,” he notes
Also, when students are attached to internships, they undertsnad more about the employer’s requirements and this helps them to write good curriculum vitaes.
Anwar Aliamini, a student at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Science (MUHAS), who did his internship at Kibiti and Lushoto hospitals, supports Mr Mwakiluma, saying that besides creating a platform for graduates to gain experience and practical application of their skills, it leaves room for interns to display ther aptitudes and talents while working and hence impress their supervisors.
“Internship programs create a platform where graduates get to display their full potential as proffesionals, gain tangible working experience, practically apply all their learned skills at the working place and actively solve various challenges that they face,” he notes.
On the other hand it also nurtures a sense of responsibility and proper working place ethics and conduct.
Internships help students to create more networks, they become known to workers and employers and often times contact details are exchanged. This is different from a student who has not undergone any internship programme. During employment search interns are weighed more favorable to get employed.
Seif Mhata a university student studying abroad, says internships are of great help to students to get employed because they decorate the CV with work experience in the sector you want to pursue.
“Furthermore they [internships] can be a great source of personal awareness and motivation to students to aid in their development and education towards a career choice or job opportunity.,” he says.
Interships help the student acquire knowledge and expertise that in the longrun helps them be better positioned to clinch a job opportunity due to their field experience.
A senior lecturer at the University of Dar-es-Salaam Marketing department, John Mwakyusa, thinks that internatinships reveal a student’s classroom understanding and through it students gain self-confidence.
“Internships complement classroom knowledge and help build the confidence of the intern. Besides, an internship provides experience that will prove crucial at the pivotal moment of emplyment search. The experience so gained is invaluable and can’t be exchanged for anything,” says Mr Mwakyusa.
In addition he says “internship helps the intern to gain confidence and network with professionals within a field. Unfortunately we only have regulated internship for students of medicine and I think we could formalise the practice for other professions, companies and institutions to benefit as well by having interns work for them before commiting to fulltime employmet,” he adds
Another Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Mathematics at University of Dar es salaam, Elizabeth Mrema, states that such arrangments help students link theoretical teachings with practical experiences.
“Due to our education systems, it hard for students to practice what they are taught. So, when they apply for internships it helps them to gain experience of what they learnt at colleges and this is what most employers look for,” she says.
A Dar es Salaam based Human Resources advisor Gervas Mfubusa, says during the internship period is when students get the first perspective of practical application of all they studied for. This allows them to try different things without being bound by job description, contract, targets and they still approach work with a learning mindset which helps them to learn as many things as possible.
Speaking of what they look for when hiring interns, Mr Mfubusa says, “Generally we look at their ability and willingness to learn and adapt.They should also be willing to change and accept the fact that they may have to end up working at a completely diferent field from what they aspired to be as kids or what they studied and the main thing is to approach the workplace with an open mind,” he notes
An Independent Education Consultant Kristina Dooley, says internships provide the opportunity to explore a potential career field and give youth an idea of whether or not it is the right profession for to pursue.