Internship and the missed oppourtunities

BY NICHOLAS OPOLOT

The subject of internship has had some bad press lately, owing to the persistent strikes of medical interns, sparking national outrage. The interns claim their allowances were scrapped, and a list of other grievances.

In Uganda, finding an internship placement is frustrating, and one has to endure the intricacies and bureaucracies akin to finding an actual job.

This is quite ironic because internship is meant to be an activity where one practices training related to a profession or skill and gains the pre-requisite experience. Amidst this dilemma, various opportunities are lost.

Last week I went to the UCU Ham Mukasa Library to borrow books, and in the process engaged with the new interns there. The experience was annoying, to say the least.

The lack of bother with which the intern attended to me only revealed her inattention to her work. I was treated like an ‘obstruction’ to the social media conversation she was engaged in on her desktop. The book clearance actually took longer than I expected, and I walked away crestfallen.

Elsewhere, employers usually complain about the absenteeism of interns, latecoming and laziness in performing assigned tasks.

However, Jeremiah Nkwanzi, a BIFA 3  student who interned at a major audit firm in town, disclosed that sometimes interns are assigned boring and far-fetched menial tasks.

“These petty errands under utilise one’s skills vis-à-vis ability to deliver at a workplace. Interns need to expand their knowledge with hands-on skills instead of working on the coffee machine and stamping papers, et al,” he said.

The essence of this is that employers should build an environment of deep understanding and trust in their interns. This contributes to their professional development and aids them in understanding the organisational culture.

In so doing, students can gain a perspective on their future careers. It would be much easier if higher learning institutions put mechanisms or policies in place to ensure lobbying for internship placements.

The government could do more by legislating and streamlining the operations of internship. This  is to protect    students who are vulnerable to manipulation  .

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