Insights on why an internship is an effective way of learning and ideas on how to do it.
The world is undergoing a radical change, and every industry is facing challenges and tremendous pressure to thrive in this VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex & Ambiguous) world. The advancement in technology has forced companies and individuals to constantly innovate to ensure their survival. This uncertainty and constant changes bring light to the fact that the jobs of the future are ones that haven’t been discovered yet. Advancements in technology that previously took several years, now happen at warp speed in a matter of months.
Therefore, the qualities and skills necessary for the future workforce shall be completely different from today. This poses a hard challenge for the academies and universities to nurture and develop talent for the unpredictable and ever-changing skill requirements of the future. How does one prepare for such an uncertain and volatile future?
The gap between industries and academies has been prevalent for many years. However, in this age of automation and innovations, industries have scaled up faster than universities, widening the gap, substantially, making it difficult for academics and universities to catch up. Unfortunately, this pace shall accelerate multifold in the coming years. Hence, a more collaborative and dynamic model is vital to bridge this gap.
Internships are an effective way of managing this divide. Internship essentially means to ‘learn by doing. Universities have made it mandatory for students to undergo internships as part of their curriculum. However, the attitude of students towards internships should change from a university directive to an effective way of learning, and they should understand the importance of doing an internship.
Internships are the best way to understand the ‘world of work’, the ‘real-world’ and fundamentally the ‘why’s of learning.
Learning while doing the work makes the learning process more meaningful, enjoyable, and effective. Internships offer a challenging environment to the students, propelling them to go beyond their textbooks, to learn from peers, communities and other resources available around them. This helps them develop several skills that are essential for the future, such as collaboration, learnability, adaptability, and so on. Internships also help them develop a challenge-taking mindset and problem-solving skills. It helps them explore deeper into their interests and discover their true self.
Beyond the prescribed norms by universities, students should explore internships on a continuous basis right from the early stages of education, as a culture, to make their journey practical and educational in the real-world.
Choosing the ‘right place’ to do their internship is the most important aspect of it all. If they prefer to pursue entrepreneurship or work in creative and innovative companies in the future, it’s ideal for them to work in small scale ventures or in the startup ecosystem where they will be exposed to important tasks, harder challenges, and where their role is really important.
These challenging environments offer more opportunities to learn that will accelerate their growth and help them nurture and develop an enterprising skill set. They will also be able to understand the process of building an organisation along with this. Startups might also be interested in offering long-term internship opportunities, after classes or on the weekends, to students so that they can grow with the company while they’re still learning. They can also earn part-time while gaining immense on-job learning experience.
For those who are interested in systematic and process-driven jobs, it would be ideal to explore internships in larger, established and process-driven organisations.
Creating an impression in the workplace is key, even while being a student intern. Rather than waiting for instructions, most modern age companies prefer individuals who take ownership, take responsibility for their work, and proactively involve in activities and discussions and contribute better.
The ability to adapt to challenging situations shall determine an individual’s success in the VUCA future. Students should network among peers and build professional relationships, ask the right questions and learn, and be unafraid of failure. This will help them make an impression and get better opportunities to grow within the organisation. The attitude of students towards internship has to be equal to a formal job, even in this short stint, to create an impression among peers as well as the leaders.
Internships have become a major source of accessing enterprising talent for most new-age ventures. It adds a lot of value to the resume, even if they hunt for opportunities elsewhere. Hence, it's highly important to make the most out of the experience beyond the certifications.
Students should explore internships in areas of their interest or areas where they think they have to improve. They should research companies that operate out of the space that they are excited to work on. This shall make sure they know truly if that space is for them or not. Everything so far would help them gain a better and more fulfilling experience out of the exercise, improve on their capabilities and enrich their resumes, and most of all, their life.