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Internships: Challenges And Way Forward

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Abstract

Internship is a short-term opportunity given by employers of both non-profit and for-profit sectors to students where their academic learning can be applied to real-world work environment. It can be paid or unpaid. However, the trend is increasing towards the former. The main objective of this article is to look into the challenges faced during an internship program and how to overcome them. Just like a job, the students go through an application process to get an internship. Applying and interviewing for internships enhances the job application and interviewing skills, which will be helpful while applying for a job. An internship on a resume differentiates you from the other job seekers and makes you more competitive.

Introduction

Internships are becoming an increasingly common part of undergraduate life and early careers. Internship programs are highly popular among students in part because they represent an opportunity to learn about the work, build on classroom learning, and grow professional networks. Nonetheless, there has been much recent debate regarding the value of internships, especially for students at the undergraduate level. Several scholars and journalists have pointed out how internships—particularly unpaid ones— may offer the intern limited educational or professional value. Internships are a growing, yet controversial, labor market phenomenon. In particular, the issue of unpaid internships has been a source of legislative, judicial, and ethical debate. The students who have completed internships as a part of their university degree are better at making career decisions and are more satisfied with their career choices.

Benefits of internship

Internships are temporary. They can last from a few weeks to twelve months, with varying work hours but they can lead to long-term benefits, such as job opportunities in the company and increased knowledge about the industry Besides, your supervisor and colleagues can be a reference for a job, college applications, or even scholarship applications.

Internships help a student identify their skills and interest. Having an internship helps in gaining experience and increase marketability in the career field you want to pursue. This experience goes on your resume as professional experience. Today, employers favor prospective employees who have done not only one but multiple internships. Therefore, the students are also in favor of doing unpaid internships.

Here are some of the benefits of internship

· It helps in exploring career

Internships are a great way to apply the knowledge from the classroom to real-world experience. It helps in exploring different career paths and exploring your interests in different fields so that you can pursue that later. It will help in figuring out whether you like the career path in which you are doing the internship or not.

· To gain experience

It gives you experience in the field you want to pursue. It helps in building your resume as most organizations nowadays would prefer to have employees with some professional experience. Thus, students try to do as many internships as they can to build up their resume.

· Chance to work in a professional environment

The path of internship introduces students to a real-life work environment which helps them in learning how a workplace operates. It helps students learn about workplace culture, teamwork, and leadership. This experience will help them during their first professional job as they will be able to work with more ease.

· Building professional relationships

Having an internship helps in building networks in the workplace. It is a great platform to meet professionals who can guide you to the right career path. You can also get an opportunity where they can give you job recommendations. So that is how you can secure a job by connecting with people during your internship period.

Internship challenges you may face and their solutions

· Unrecognized Work

Sometimes performances remain unnoticed if we don’t tell anyone about it. You get into the office early, you stay late, you excel in projects assigned to you, you even help out others and contribute to their success, yet somehow, no one seems to notice. One does well in any field because they expect recognition. As an intern, you might be doing very good but still, find yourself in a position where your part is hardly appreciated. That can be somewhat discouraging.

What to do: It is natural to want attention, but you should not become completely dependent on it, or else each time you don’t receive the response you expected, you will find your confidence growing shakier than the last time. If you continuously perform well your work can’t be overlooked.

· Allocation of minor work

This is one of the commonest internship challenges faced by a large number of interns. While you might expect to be an important part of the organization, you are often offered just assisting jobs to your seniors and mentors.

What to do: Ask your manager or another co-worker if there is anything else you can help with: If you feel that you have done the given tasks well, ask around if there are other tasks you can take on. If you are just making coffee for everyone, you need to take a step. Otherwise, it is quite normal to start with less-risky work. However, if you do well, you will soon be trusted by the authorities and allotted with better assignments and projects.

· Less Allowance

Undergraduates tend to be paid less than graduates or postgraduates You accepted an internship thinking that there won’t be much pressure and the compensation would be sufficient for it. But after you start, you realize the pay is far lesser than the work deserves.

What to do: You might get a feeling that you and a full-time employee is doing the same amount of work still you are being paid so less. But interns are under a short-term contract and are paid less almost everywhere. If you are getting enough learning experiences and it is adding to your candidature for the future, there is no harm forfeiting some of it.

· Hesitant to Ask Questions

A common intern problem is asking questions. Your biggest hesitation lies in asking questions. What if asking questions will create an impression that you don’t know anything? So many thoughts roaming through your mind. You’re not even sure which of your colleagues will help you or will they feel disturbed. You feel hesitant in interrupting them. You might land a really good internship but upon starting you realize that the work environment is excessively grave and professional. In such an environment, you find it difficult to ask questions for the fear of being judged.

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What to do: Everybody out there knows that you are an intern so be confident enough to ask questions if you are not sure about something. It is always better to ask questions than doing a mistake.

· Understanding the office culture

It sure takes time to understand the office culture. Since every organizational culture varies from office to office. Some have a rigid structure while others are flexible. Though organizations are moving more towards flexibility nowadays, some offices do have some strict policies. Then again, there are some internal differences too. During your first weeks of socializing struggles, trying to observe the organizational behavior is a challenge. Your perception is very important here since according to that you progress on socializing.

What to do: If you want to better understand your culture, look at your company’s priorities. These goals and initiatives reveal what your organization values and what it does not (both explicitly and implicitly). While every employee contributes to company culture, leaders have more impact and influence.

· Understanding teamwork

Understanding teamwork is one of the biggest intern problems or internship challenges because teamwork in the professional sector is very much different than your projects at varsity. Miscommunication, misinterpretation of the actual objectives, different opinions of team members are common and vary from that of the project group work you have done. Mishaps in internal communication also affect your work.

What to do: Establish a connection with each team member. As teams become comfortable with one another, their efficiency and productivity will improve when trust and confidence will be built upon each other.

· Competitive Co-interns

Co-interns viewing each other as competitors can sabotage collaboration and teamwork. It can even cause workers to sabotage one another’s efforts to get ahead, leading to mistrust and fear. Some interns get frustrated by a work environment that feels competitive. Constant comparison can be exhausting and can eventually be demotivating.

What to do: Contrary to what it looks like, competitive co-interns make your experience better. You will get to feel real pressure to work better and get noticed instead of just doing random work and completing your internship duration.

Unpaid Internships are exploiting youngsters

In the past, unpaid internships have become a common practice amongst companies. For an internship to be academically worthy, students doing internships are expected to gain hands-on experience that helps them develop the knowledge and skills required to gain entry into their field. For every student who asks for a stipend, there is always that one person who is willing to do it for free.

The cracking down on the unpaid internship has recently come to light due to employers seeking free labor with no intention of hiring the intern in the future. Unpaid internships have become more and more common since the recent economic recession. When evaluating, the growth of unpaid internships must be viewed in light of their effect on the intern and the overall economy.

There is also the inequality factor since only students with financial means can do them as those students that are not wealthy need to make money.

When Unpaid Internships Are Beneficial?

There are some instances where an unpaid internship still has its advantages, such as providing students with experiences they could not get elsewhere, along with the opportunity to establish strong networking connections with professionals. Excellent recommendation letters are another advantage that would help the student gain full-time employment with other organizations in the field. For non-profit organizations unable to pay their interns it’s not an issue; but for for-profit companies looking to save money, they could find themselves in the middle of a lawsuit that would cost them much more than if they had agreed to pay their interns. Why are people still interested in adding internships in their resume, even unpaid ones-

· Gaining Valuable Experience

The first, and probably the most important advantage of an unpaid internship, is the experience it provides. If you choose to spend your time in an unpaid internship to gain knowledge about a particular field, you will inevitably benefit from the time you spent doing so. While class time is invaluable, many things can be learned through internships that simply cannot be taught in a classroom setting. In addition to this, it allows you to apply the theories and practices you have learned, thus giving you a practical understanding of the subject matter.

· Advantages for Future Employment

Probably the most convincing reason that a student chooses an unpaid internship is the opportunities it can offer post-graduation. Many employers offer paid positions to interns who worked with them in the past. Companies choose to do this because they have already developed a strong rapport with the intern, and also, they don’t have to spend as much time training the intern about the company than they would an external candidate. In a similar vein, putting an unpaid internship on your resume shows the employers that you are willing to work hard no matter what the terms of the employment are.

· Allows Students to Pursue Interests

An unpaid internship often allows you to explore a particular area of interest to help you decide if this is the path you should take. This will allow you to gain more specific knowledge or learn more about the area you want to focus on once you graduate.

Conclusion

The life of an intern can be tough as you get a very short period to make a long-lasting impression on your supervisors. Internships- whether paid or not paid, has many challenges. It is very important to make efforts to build a connection with senior employees who will be able to provide you guidance and help you in future job searches and will also help in improving your decision-making skill as being able to work independently is very important in the workplace. You need to always work hard no matter how small the task seems as it helps in building a good work ethic. Take criticism positively as this will improve your work quality. This will help when the students will start interviewing for jobs as they will feel more confident and experienced.

References

  1. Definition of Internship (as set forth in the Ohio State University Department of Political Science, accessed January 22, 2013
  2. ‘Internship Expectations: What an Internship Is and Is Not – Current Students and Alumni – Career Center – University of Evansville’
  3. ‘Unpaid Internships: Unfair and Unethical | The Bottom Line’
  4. ‘Internships – Jobs, Reviews, Advice – RateMyPlacement’

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Internships: Challenges And Way Forward. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved November 27, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/internships-challenges-and-way-forward/
“Internships: Challenges And Way Forward.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/internships-challenges-and-way-forward/
Internships: Challenges And Way Forward. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/internships-challenges-and-way-forward/> [Accessed 27 Nov. 2022].
Internships: Challenges And Way Forward [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 17 [cited 2022 Nov 27]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/internships-challenges-and-way-forward/
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