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How internships help students

 Internships are an eventful as well as fruitful part of students’ summer vacations. Whether it is school students or those going to college, or someone pursuing a non-regular or distance education programme, taking up internships is a useful way to spend their summer time.  Now that the summer vacations have been underway in most parts of the country, internships are actively being sought with possibly lakhs of students already working as interns across industries and sectors. 

With the government bodies including the UGC and AICTE making internships mandatory for students, the trend has also caught on among school-going students, particularly secondary and higher secondary school students. 
Consistent rise 

Over the years, there has been an unprecedented rise in demand for internship opportunities in the country. Against some 30,000 students applying for internships in 2014, a whopping 3.5 million had applied for internships on leading internship jobs and training platforms in the country.

In 2020-21, as many as 76,000 students applied for internships every day, according to a survey. Although these would not be all school students, these numbers certainly indicate the ever-rising need for and popularity of internships among students including school students in India. 
Rising number of vocational subjects 

With plenty of choices available in terms of vocational subjects for school-going children today, even children as young as those studying in classes 8th and 10th are also looking for internships. 
Some of those vocational subjects that they study and would need internships for would range from traditional trade-based subjects such as furniture-making and welding technology to formal office-based typewriting and secretarial assistance, arts and crafts, to modern solar energy technology, biogas energy technology, bakery and confectionery and food processing, among others. 

Besides, higher secondary students specializing in application-based courses such as computer science and IT and commerce and accounts would also explore internship opportunities. Within computer science and IT, even more advanced, fashionable and immensely popular has been coding and programming the basics of which are being taught to children as early as in class 6th in India today.

These students would also look for internship openings in the summers.
In view of such popularity and the enormity of demand, in what ways can summer internships really help school-going students?

Testing of classroom learning

First, an internship programme helps students to test themselves in a real work environment. They can check for themselves whether and with what degree of proficiency the theoretical lessons that they would have learnt in the classroom can be applied in the workplace.

This helps them identify gaps in their knowledge and understanding, revisit the ‘weak spots’, absorb and assimilate the learnings better, refine and hone their practical skills and eventually become more proficient and employable in the future.     

Familiarszing with relevant industries

Second, an internship programme is also an effective way to get to know the industry or the sector better in which they might work in adulthood. Depending on the sector and their chosen functional areas, students not only become acquainted with some of the relevant companies and organisations but also begin to learn and build their social and professional network from an early age. 

Also, while gaining hands-on experience, they get first-hand insight into how companies function, their inner workings, different departments and verticals, the workflows, the nature of technology and equipment driving the workflow, the collective nature of work etc. In other words, they also learn the value of teamwork, collaborative work ethic and shared responsibility, all critical to success in the long run.

Competitive edge  

Third, during an internship, a student not only gains and improves upon his domain-related knowledge and technical skills, but also develops and sharpens general problem-solving skills. 
While handling complex tasks at the workplace, he is made to engage in critical thinking and logical reasoning, employ functional intelligence, polish his communication and interpersonal skills and pick up the finer points of team-building and leadership development – all at a very early and tender age. At the same time, he also develops a wider worldview, the ability to see the big picture in terms of his chosen sector or industry as well as his own personal and professional course of development. 

With such grounding, students who would have undergone internship programmes, usually rank far ahead of their peers and fellow students who wouldn’t have taken up internship prior to applying for a position and are much more successful than the latter in their career in the long term. There is enough research available to illustrate this advantage for the internship takers vis-à-vis the non-internship takers.

Improves credentials 

Fourth, opting for internship opportunities at an early age also bolsters a student’s résumé in a big way which in turn improves his credentials for admission into institutes and colleges of his choice for higher education. There are AI-enabled measurement systems today that can also indicate a student’s ‘readiness’ for a certain subject area or a career option with a high degree of accuracy. 

Therefore, pursuing internships for school-going children is a powerful way of speeding up their development, both professional and personal. And since summers are often the longest holiday that students get in a year, they can pursue a relatively longer and more stable internship programme, spending their time in the most productive manner possible. 

(Aarul Malviya is the founder of Zamit, a research-based Measurement, Improvement and Monitoring system for the school ecosystem that is developed using a proprietary AI)

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