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Internships growing in importance
Benny Augustine
Friday, June 1, 2007
Today, the corporate world across sectors is facing the talent squeeze syndrome. The challenge is not a dearth of a skilled workforce, but the supply which matches the demand of the industry. We cannot change the environment and very frankly no one wants to stop the growth. What we can change is how we address this problem.

Internships for worthy students is a very effective measure for preparing fresh talent for the future. This is also a win-win situation for the organization and students. The student gets experience of working in a real business environment and the organization has direct access to talent. The candidates can be evaluated on the basis of their performance over a significant period of time, which is at least a month, rather than a few hours of an interview process. Internships close the gap between a qualification and having actual work experience. Undergoing an internship gives individuals the experience of a real work environment and prepares them to excel in their jobs.

The key to success
An internship program has to be well structured for all parties involved to benefit from it. The employer and intern should be very clear of what they seek to achieve from the initiative. Internships give students the opportunity to test the waters and decide which industry or company is the best for a career choice.

Internships help organizations to hire the appropriate talent, within a shorter time period. The entire selection process can take up to 6-8 weeks. It takes more than six months for a new employee to settle down the company. This cycle can be decreased if interns are offered the required experience and inducted into the company during the internship.

The most successful internships are those which are structured in alignment with the curriculum being followed by the student. Also interns should be treated as a part of the organization and as regular employees. Internships should focus on professional and personal development of the individual. The intern can go through process training as well as comprehensive modules such as negotiation skills, team building and be introduced to day-to-day corporate practices such as e-mail etiquettes and office decorum. They should also be encouraged to share innovative ideas with the team they are part of as this will increase commitment and efficiency levels. These days, internships also lay a lot of emphasis on providing global exposure to the individuals, which is the key driver of most businesses.

Today there are many internship opportunities available in the market. There are numerous openings in India as well as abroad. Unisys Global Services India (UGSI) has a 9-month internship program for M.Tech. students in their third semester. As a part of the curriculum the students need to get practical work experience and submit a project report. The internship is designed in a manner that the students get the required work experience and can be graded on the basis of their projects at UGSI. To ensure a foolproof and fair assessment, the intern is evaluated by the UGSI project manager and the faculty. This initiative has been very successful and over the past two years we have been able to offer employment to close to 40 individuals in each batch.

An internship is an opportunity for all to explore, learn and make the best decision. So why not go for it?

The author is Director - Human Resources, Unisys Global Services India

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