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Is an internship relevant for students from all streams or is it best left to MBA graduates?
If this question has ever crossed your mind as a student, the answer is -- yes. Students from all streams can benefit tremendously from a structured internship in any organisation.
Internships form a bridge between the academic learning and the business world which goes a long way in shaping the professional career of the candidate. Here are some ways how internships add value to a young professional's career.
Integrate theory and research into practice
An internship helps you apply theoretical business knowledge gained specifically from a course and translate it to real life business situations. You can then compare yourself with other graduates who might have work experience but no theoretical business knowledge.
Building professional networks
Through internships, you start developing business networking skills and can make connections in the industry of your choice. Networking is a valuable tool for not only getting started in a competitive career but also in rising up the ladder of corporate success.
The contacts you form will go a long way and can also help you change jobs later. These networking contacts help to move ahead in your career path.
Finding a mentor is important for both personal and professional growth. You can learn from your mentor's experience and also get that much-needed guidance to sail through the challenges posed by the industry especially if you are a newcomer.
Your mentor need not be only a senior executive. He/ she could also be a colleague who is well aware of the nuances of the industry. Don't be afraid to ask for advice and learn from other people's mistakes.
Opportunity to change industries
Internships provide an opportunity to candidates to identify which jobs are most appealing and suitable to them. You can switch industries and shift to the one where you can realise your full potential and can gain maximum growth opportunities.
"Development and acceleration of a student does not come from technical skills and knowledge alone, but from the ability to solve problems in teams, to work in cross-cultural teams, to present to different groups, and articulate ideas verbally and in written papers. This is typically not taught at most colleges, so it is left to the employer and the individual," says Harish Rajput, Head of Recruitment for a leading retail firm.
Obtain relevant work experience
Although, many students have work experience which could be in any industry irrelevant of their educational background, through an internship they gain experience that is relevant to the industry in which they want to carve out their career in the future.
It is crucial that the experience you gain is relevant as it will provide you with the insight and knowledge about the industry you want to work in.
Opportunity for final placement
Interns are viewed as prospective candidates who could be hired by the organisation. It is mutually beneficial for the intern as well as the employer as they find fresh ideas along with prospective talent/ employees.
Employers are able to evaluate interns as to whether they are a good match with the organisational culture and work environment.
Deciding a long-term career path
Internship also helps in long-term career planning. It enables you to identify the area of specialisation and then gain practical knowledge about the job and the industry in which you want to work.
Aligning the area of specialisation with the internship profile ensures accurate insight into the kind of work you would be exposed to, once you start working.
Doing a personal SWOT analysis
An internship can act as a sounding board and help you realise your professional strengths and opportunity areas. This kind of a self realisation can give you a headstart in your career as you will be able to take on responsibilities which are in alignment with your strengths.
Proper self analysis will ensure you identify your strengths and weaknesses and align them with the goals of the organisation. This way you can maximise your gain from the internship.
An internship is a sure-shot career booster and with the right kind of support, the opportunities for a young professional end only where their imagination does.
The writer is a managing partner at WCH Training Solutions, a New Delhi-based training and consulting firm. Feedback can be sent at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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