By: Waleed Akram, SEPLAA Intern.
A regular student nowadays might scoff at the idea of applying for an internship somewhere. Especially if the said internship comes with little or no financial compensation at all. This is when skeptic questions start popping up in the youth’s mind. Questions like ‘Why should I waste my valuable time when I could rather spend it hanging out with my friends?’ and ‘What if I only get exploited by my superiors?’ And while the concerns being put forward come from a valid standpoint, one needs to only observe the scene from a different perspective in order to grasp its true meaning and what it actually has to offer.
From my own personal experience I can assert that managing an internship is no walk in the park. Instead the ground feels slippery and treacherous so if you do not balance yourself correctly you are apt to embarrassingly fall down. But the rewards would be yours and yours alone to reap in the future, though only after you have paid your dues. These would be a person’s first steps into the real professional world thus; they will no longer be cajoled or spoon-fed. As a result we begin to mature at a rapid rate and start making the tough transition into a skilled adult.
An internship is also an excellent opportunity for a confused boy or a girl to find out what kind of work would suit him or her best. So that in the long run, they do not end up investing in a profession that they would regret working in. Also, job seekers could prove their worth through their own actions and hard work. While on the other hand potential employers have a chance to judge if the individual possesses the qualities required for the specific job. Individuals also get to learn important abilities which would benefit them throughout their whole life such as how to make a good impression, writing a resume etc before other workers get the chance to do so. But perhaps the most redeeming advantage would be the valuable experience gained by an internee. Due to the fact that we learn by mistakes, a person might be able to afford to make mistakes during an internship but these same mistakes could be quite costly otherwise.
A few students that have taken part in these trainings were interviewed about their views regarding this position. Mahnoor Irfan and Bisma Javaid, have undergone the internship program at Shaukat Khanum Hospital (in Lahore). Both of them felt that the overall experience was very exhilarating and self-satisfying. They were invigorated by helping and playing with children suffering from cancer and believe that the ideas and experience they obtained will help them in the future too. Also Muhammad Irfan, currently an intern at WWF-Pakistan, says that before joining he did not have any concepts about the knowledge he is abundantly gaining. Consequently, when these internees were asked if they have had any issues such as not getting paid for their contribution, their answers were the same. That they did not mind anything at all since every moment was enjoyed and that their original purpose of participation has been fulfilled.
The sheer amount of enthusiasm shown by these candidates makes one wonder why more of our youngsters are not actively being a part and taking advantage of this prospect. As Irfan has thoughtfully put it: “I would much rather go out and do something productive than stay at home and waste my precious time”. Picking any problems out of this system is tough due to the simple reason that people who are directly connected with the process did not have anything to add or complain about. While there might be internships that are not so well organized, potential internees should do some research first about the organization they want to join. But no-matter how desirable you might be as a student, there is just no substitute for the hands-on personal involvement while working on something. Being part of a team in which you need to think about what is good for the whole group instead of just yourself teaches us about team spirit at an early professional stage.
After completion though, you would have a definitive ‘edge’ over your peers in terms of your value in the job market. This way the dream career you’re hoping to jump into is one step closer to you. Other than this, a commendable internship period would also provide someone with helpful contacts that can be useful in the competitive job industry of today. Any important references acquired will also add a lot more weight to an application. Of course, you will also finally get to use your hard-earned skills practically. In such a way, internships give students a necessary platform using which they’ll be able to better equip themselves for life outside their homes and educational institutions, eventually assisting them in the attainment of their ultimate goal.