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CareersInternships are a pre-professional learning experience for students and new graduates. While they are a common practice overseas, during the last decade, internships have become mandatory at most colleges and universities in Pakistan. They usually take place during the summer break and span between six and 12 weeks.

For students, internships provide an opportunity to explore career opportunities, develop skills and gain work experience that could possibly lead to a permanent job at the company. For organisations, the main benefit of internships is acquiring temporary employees who can fulfil certain tasks (usually free of cost or for a nominal stipend) and possibly acquire permanent ones in the future.

Here is what students should keep in mind with regard to internships:

Be proactive. Update your resume and covering letter and be on the lookout for internship programme announcements online as well as at your university’s Career Placement Office. Organisations initiate the screening process a few months before the internship season begins; applying early will increase your chances of being selected.

Maximise benefits. Once you land an internship, remember that it is an opportunity to acquire marketable skills and establish professional networks. Prioritise activities and projects that you should complete during the internship after discussions with your supervisor. Ensure that there is a balance between the ‘grunt work’ – such as making copies – and completing projects that require research, analysis and presentation skills.

Managers should factor in the following to ensure successful internship programmes:

Planning and supervision. Plan ahead to ensure availability of intern projects, staff support and office space before the internship begins. Organise orientation sessions and plan weekly meetings to outline interns’ workload, and provide consistent and constructive feedback.  

Meaningful assignments. Assign challenging projects relevant to the interns’ field of study. This will ensure that they will focus on the tasks assigned because they will believe that they are gaining valuable, ‘on-the-job’ experience. Organise expos to showcase completed projects; this will communicate that the organisation evaluates and recognises the interns’ work.

Monica Peter
The writer is an HR Professional at a multinational company and can be contacted via LinkedIn. monicapeter@gmail.com

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on May 18, 2014.

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