If there is ever a topic that touches young people’s hearts more than any other is the topic on unemployment. Whenever we are discussing careers it will be unjust to leave out the topic of unemployment. Our competent varsities, that have also retrenched, are consistent in creating loads of professionals to flood the job markets. The frustration comes through when one has been job hunting for years without success. Measures have been taken to bring these graduates closer to jobs through platforms that share opportunities but all these platforms ever share are internship opportunities.
An internship is a good means of accumulating work experience since most job openings require experience. It has been proven to prepare young people for proper career placement and work readiness. However, in the words of a young lady called Linda Ndlovu, “Every organization or company is now taking advantage of youth unemployment through internships. They cut costs by avoiding paying salaries through offering internships. Interns usually get lots of tasks such that they assume the job responsibilities of secretaries, cleaners, messengers, administrators and drivers on top of theirs.” A young person lately can even spend five years jumping from an internship to the next with nothing to show for it as their career still lacks a record proper work experience and they still cannot sustain themselves monetary wise. Since the economic situation in the country is still worsening, one is not guaranteed to get a permanent position in their place of work even after internship. The situation is even worse for young women who are prone to carpet interviews and sexual harassment at work.
Now since internships are all people have currently, here are a few pointers on how to get the maximum benefits from them and lay the groundwork for a successful career. It is normal for an intern to lose their footing and not know how to fit in, blending into a work environment is difficult for interns and as such an invisible line is drawn between the interns and the rest of the employees. This is why most young interns fail to find value of the organizations that they are attached to in their careers. Finding your footing is more than having the confidence to do your work with diligence; it’s about owning the vision of the organization and aligning it with yours. In that way, the experience you are gaining makes sense and the learning process is smoother regardless of the learning environment.
At the end of an internship, young people are usually complaining that all they did was run errands that have nothing to do with their careers. Internship is a work readiness program and it is expected for one to be in touch with office administration issues, but if one is an accountant and yet all they do is serve teas then there is a problem. It is up to the intern to know how they want to grow and ask for their job description as an intern. Knowing the job description is not enough; interns have to be proactive in asking for befitting tasks.
Within the job description, it is important for an intern to be innovative and to open doors for themselves. Several times you will find interns within the field of development work failing to propose a single project during their time of internship. They are usually swallowed up in bureaucracy and organizational politics instead of laying the ground for their careers. If the organization is failing to give you the experience you intended to get from the internship it is up to you to politely suggest way that can help your growth and the organization’s. Monitor and evaluate your progress. A progress file is not just a requirement, it is meant to guide you to hold you accountable to yourself. Time is valuable how you use it matters.
At the end of the day making money is important for a young person trying to take their first steps. The best internships found in this economy offer minimum living allowances, the rest you have to find your own footing. An internship in itself is a voluntary job and one should not expect a salary. An internship is however an opportunity of investment. It’s an opportunity to network with intent and invest in social capital. Maintaining relations is how one gets connected and it comes with using the space given to explore all options. It will also help one to get external sources of funding if time permits, it will drive away fatigue and assist one to maximize on an internship opportunity.
Authored By: Thando Gwinji