Yearly, 10,000 students from numerous universities
intern at many companies. Internship Programs employed by many renowned
companies like P&G, Levers, and the like provide a platform of
learning and practical skill.
Benefits of Internship Programs are many. Students
gain practical skill and experience in their field of interest. During
and after internships, students are confronted with an entirely
different market scenario. Through Internship Programs, students are
able to grasp the real market concepts, new to them, apart from
textbooks. Different, often older, technologies exist in the corporate
sector, than that which is budding. It is in the market, the jagged
teeth of reality bite.
From the start, students build a temperament to work
in and as an organization. Motivation exceeds by seeing and working
among intellectuals. Students, for the first time, realize shortcomings
on their part regarding skill and knowledge. Often, students convey this
new trend to their professors and fellow students, and work to overcome
these inefficiencies. In effect, students comprehend aspects of life
that demand their utmost attention. A sense of responsibility is endowed
upon their shoulders, and they realize they are held accountable for
their actions. Students learn new things and gain insight into new
ideas. More important, students learn to work under a boss.
Pakistan, as other countries, regulates Internship
Programs for the development of youth and labour. Under this act,
companies and institutions become obligated to collaborate to formalize
Universities, realizing their graduates are demanded,
try to maintain a balance of theoretical as well as practical knowledge.
It is the Internship Program that provides the gateway for practical
skill and experience.
Internship Programs may in fact become economically
justifiable if they were to provide benefits greater than the underlying
costs to the internee and the organization. However, the reality is
converse. The fact of the matter is, many Internship Programs fail in
Internships become compulsory at higher levels of
education, bearing a feeling that working in an organization before
graduation shall permit the students to engage in activities that will
help them in their practical profession. On the contrary, it is rarely
seen that students are allowed to fully exercise the benefits of their
Three key players in this agenda are the internee,
institution and the company. All equally share the burden of debt, but
the greatest role is seen of the company, being the greatest
In universities or institutions, all internship
related activities are the responsibility of the Placement Office. The
head of this department is the Placement Officer. It often so happens
that Placement Officers are unaware of details of the candidates who
have been chosen by companies, and also of those who have been rejected
and are hoping that the Placement Office shall do them justice.
It only surprises you when you receive a call one
fine morning. "Dear, have you been called by any company?" he
asks. "No sir, I have tried but it seems that all positions are
occupied. I am dependent on you now." I proclaim. "Ok. Well,
Saudi Pak Commercial Bank has asked for internees to fill their MIS
department. Are you interested?" he asks. "Yes sir." I
quickly reply. "Do you know MS Office? They are looking for people
who can work in MS Office." he asks. Startled, I said "Sir I
am an MCS." Thus, improvements in the institution start with
improvements in the Placement Office. It shall be beneficial if
Placement Officers were well informed about the capabilities and skill
of their students.
Another complaint heard from students against the
Placement Office is related with notice delays. The Placement Office is
unable to handle the volume of applications for internship, resulting in
delays and missed dates.
Also, synchronization on part of the companies is
required. All companies do not issue requests for internees in the same
period. Some arrive even months later. Due to this, students remain
unaware and confused of better offers ahead, falling short on a previous
The rules of applying for internship are such that
one candidate may apply to one company only. If a better offer comes
independently, he/she must settle for the former one. Definitely, the
reputation of the institutions is at stake. In future, companies will
refrain from calling upon universities to supply their fresh recruits
for internships if they see that students find other places worthwhile.
Still, it is favourable that rules for applying be made flexible.
Companies often fall short on selecting candidates
purely on merit and skill. The matter is to be highlighted in red ink.
Companies are required to review and also implement their ethics policy.
It can be seen that companies can well curb the benefits derived from
Internship Programs. It is advisable for companies to engage in a
revised program for selecting internees.
One major problem haunting the minds of students is
that of selection. Students rely on their resources and networks
heavily. Those who are fortunate do not prepare and work as hard as
unfortunate students who have nothing to show for themselves, but hard
work and dedication. Thus, it is safe to say that often selection
depends upon criteria other than merit and due qualification. Another
issue is regarding dishonest acts and use of unfair means to attempt
questions in aptitude tests. Even renowned companies become victim of
mismanagement at testing centers, like P&G tests held at Reagent
Plaza in March of year 2002, followed by Citibank tests for internship.
Thus, companies are required to revise their ethics
policy regarding control and selection of internees to complement their
Internship Programs. One alternative is to maintain an ongoing profile
of potential candidates throughout their student life, and handpick
those who possess consistently improving grades. A practice well
exercised in the US. Benefits are reaped likewise.
Student Monitoring Plans shall promote educational
strive as students compete purely on the basis of skill and knowledge of
the subject. This solution proposes that students are treated equally,
rather than equitably. Also, students feel disheartened when they see
academically poorer performance students in a better organization than
his. It has even been seen that core Computer Science students are
interning in Brand Management and the like, a field completely different
from their profession. Thus, the criteria for selection should be
clearly defined before hand, such that the process is transparent.
This system of recruitment shall justify their
expenditures for Internship Programs. It is yet to be seen as no
institution or company in Pakistan has yet engaged in any student
Companies nearly spend between 2% and 4% every year
on Internship Programs. If returns on these investments could be
quantified, it will clearly show that Internship Programs are lacking
the desired attention, resulting in more loss than benefit to the
Not only does such deficient Internship Program hurt
the internee, but also the organization as a whole. Many internees bring
back souvenirs in form of reputation and feedback towards the company.
It is often negative. In effect, inability of the companies to judge and
utilize the potential of the young student by having him or her attend
phone calls or take printouts or prepare presentations deteriorates its
own reputation in the market. A person feels frustrated when overworked,
but violated when under worked. Clearly, in later years, students will
forbear interning at such companies who undermine the potential of the
internees. At least, it is true for those who understand the virtue of
The institution should be observant of such
shortcomings on behalf of the students as well as the companies. It is
often preferable to intern in large multi-national companies.
Ironically, students expect lesser workload and greater tolerance to
ignorance in such companies and opt to relax through their internships.
The university shall have to observe such failure on part of the
students. Universities need to emphasize the importance of surveillance
and control. They must be alert and obtain feedback from internees
during and after completion of internships. Indeed, interviewing 600
internees is not an easy task. Keep in mind; two wrongs never make a
Internees are required by regulation to submit a
report of their internship experience. The purpose of this report is to
obtain insight into the internee's work experience and offer judgment to
pass or fail. Sadly, many of these reports go unread and pile up in the
storeroom. Companies are also advised to install monitoring systems that
are able to detect manipulation of productive office time.
Students are required to approach this issue
rationally in the light of knowledge and economics. There is a general
consensus that such companies can shine their resumes, when they apply
for permanent jobs in the near future. In effect, this approach is
applicable only in the short run. All that glitters is not gold. The
market requires technical expertise and practical experience that cannot
be predicted by resumes alone. In the long run, these qualities are not
overlooked and may jeopardize the future of the candidate.
Often, companies do not have place and equipment
ready for internees. Much time is wasted just preparing a fresh PC and
installing Windows. It may even take weeks. It is even seen in small
newly started software houses that internees bring their own computers
with them to work.
Although internees remain a few good days only, they
also deserve similar treatment as other employees, if not the same, and
seen as individuals who may also contribute positively towards the well
being of the organization. Often, internees feel misused or
under-utilized. They are not assigned capable work, and are found
attending phone calls, preparing messages, taking photocopies, or
performing other clerical duties alike, or even chatting in the board
room having no other place to sit. Men are seen photocopying, while
ladies are seen phone sitting. Such malpractice is commonplace.
Also, companies should clearly follow a strict
selection program, informing universities in advance as to how many
students they require and of what skills and background. In this
context, BP Pakistan selected four internees from IBA as noted on
bulletin boards in the halls of the institute. Conversely, there are
over twenty students only from IBA interning at BP. What had been the
criteria? God knows better.
Another issue is of rotation.
petty time to grasp the essence of tasks assigned. It would be
beneficial for them if they could focus in one area, rather than rotate
from department to department. Thus, rotation should be minimized, and
specialization be promoted.
Often, companies favour extra curricular activities
in students, even if this means skipping a class or two. Students are
found missing classes to attend meetings, or even to clear bad cheques.
Everyone is familiar with policies of student politics. A similar
solution proposed here is the implementation of student monitoring
Having analyzed inefficiencies in Internship
Programs, can we say the benefits of internships outweigh the costs? Are
Internship Programs also victims of bureaucracy and red tapes? In other
words, are Internship Programs economically justifiable? At least not to
a great extent.
On an endnote, hats off to companies who have proven
their commitment towards education and Internship Programs. Surely, it
is in mutual benefit.