OF all the extra-curricular experiences that one can potentially pack into one’s college life, I think it is the internship that probably gives you the closest window into the world of work. An internship is typically a job that is related to your degree, unlike a part-time job where you work just for the experience or money.
Someone who has hired a lot of interns, Scott Adams, Architectural Standards Specialist at Starbucks Coffee Company, Seattle advises, “You also get a chance to see what skills are the most highly valued by a potential employer and you can work to get those skills.” Two, getting real work experience within your field immediately sets you apart from other graduates once you enter the job market.
The more internships,the merrier?
One of the first things that impresses me about students who have done internships in college is that they are more focused and willing to walk that extra mile to make a difference. Hunaid Ali Germanwala, currently doing a BTech in Chemical Engineering at SRM University, Chennai has already done as many as six internships! He definitely believes in turbo-charging his career by doing several internships, of which some were required by his college but many were not.
In 2009 Hunaid worked at Rajasthan State Mines and Minerals where he prepared reports and worked on certain chemical procedures. In the summer of 2010, he worked with Crown Colour Chem where amongst other things he worked in guiding workers on plant safety. Currently he is working at IIT Bombay on preparing ion exchange polymer metal composites. So from industry to research, he has tried it all. And if all that was not high performing enough he also worked in a shop and handled clients and created a colour coding system for easy tracking.
Hunaid is now applying overseas for a Master’s in Environmental and Energy Engineering, but the thirst for new experiences obviously has not left him. What has he learnt from all these experiences? “I love being a chemical engineer and I will see where it takes me,” he shares. Kudos to a student who is waiting to make up his mind but devouring all the experiences that are coming his way.
Psychology to social marketing
|Plump up your résumé!
|1. Work across industries or sectors, to understand what suits your personality and interest.
2. Within the same company, see if it is possible for you to work in different departments for exposure across functions.
3. Many eployers observe interns and see if they fit into the work culture and are motivated to learn. It could lead to a job! If not, be sure to network with the professionals you meet and interact with.
4. Demonstrate your ability to work hard. Learn how to manage time.
5. Get an insight into what skills are prized by an employer. Also, apply classroom knowledge and see if it works or needs to be relooked at. Then use further education to consolidate your experience.
6. Your résumé stands out from all fresh graduates who apply with no expereince or idea about what they want to do. This gives you an edge in the job market.
7. Successfully contributing in a work setting will substantially boost self-confidence!
I have met many such multi-tasking students of late. Shreya Mathur has a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Master’s in Social Work and is currently working as a Senior Accounts Executive at an advertising agency called Thompson Social – JWT. I was intrigued by Shreya’s journey from psychology to social marketing. It turned out that she had done several internships and jobs before she took up this one. She interned with an NGO called Butterflies in Delhi where she worked in the communications division and she also worked as a counsellor in a telephone helpline for students.
“Internships helped me understand what I wanted to do but also made me realise what I was not interested in pursuing further,” she shares. When I queried her about her interest in social marketing she says, “Here we focus on advertising which makes a difference. I love that about my job, plus it is gives me a chance to interact with different companies. But I need to work in a corporate environment which I feel Psychology or social work may not offer.”
Internship to first job
Today, Sanchita Johri works as a Brand Consultant at Brand Capital, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd, after completing a PGDMM at the Times Centre for Media Studies, working for two years, followed by a programme in Negotiation Strategies at ISB, Hyderabad. But her first internship with Radio City was during graduation. On analysing her internships she states, “The learning and networking at my first internship helped me land a job as a Radio Jockey at Big FM.
An advertising research internship with Red FM, Delhi broadened my understanding of the radio industry in terms of advertising even after I had moved out of my role as an RJ. Finally, an advertising internship with O&M added to my learning curve for my present role.” Sanchita’s internship experience helped her find a job but also gave her an opportunity to experiment with different roles. Her advice to students, “All internships can add value, however it purely depends on what one makes of the opportunity.”
“We’ve converted all the interns over last five years into full-time employees. The key is getting good interns,” shares Ram Deshpande VP (Sales and Marketing), Prescient Technologies, Pune. Ram also offers some good advice to other employers. “Spend as much time evaluating/ hiring/ training them as you’d do for your employees,” he says. Another employer, Nigel Carter, a Senior Associate at Penna Consulting, a HR firm based in London, says, “Sometimes interns can bring in fresh insight into the job. Just because they have no experience and no fixed way of looking at a problem, they can occasionally bring in a good solution, too.”
Choosing an internship
So how do we go about gaining an internship? Should you be paid during an internship? These are some of the questions I will address in my article next month. Watch this space!
The author is a career counsellor and Director, Careertrack.