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Students and the challenges of internship

By Ekemini Eyoh

It is not uncommon to hear students on their Industrial Attachment (IT) or internship lament over their unpleasant experiences, especially the challenges encountered in the process of finding a firm to accommodate and support them financially.

While it is expected of students to go out and acquire practical knowledge of their chosen fields, it seems also right for firms to make provisions to support their efforts.

Though internship is peculiar to polytechnics, but most universities have followed suit depending on the course of study of the students. The major objective of internship is to help students apply theoretical knowledge and school-based skills to practice before they enter the world of work.

File photo: ...Students receiving practical instructions at Innoson car plant
File photo: …Students receiving practical instructions at Innoson car plant

The programme came into existence following decree No. 47 of October 08 1971 as amended in 1990. This decree gave birth to the founding of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) in 1973/1974, which in turn established the Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) to bridge the gap between school-based knowledge and work-place skills.

Though industrial training provides students with work experience that prepares them for the work place, but the major advantage is that it helps students discover their areas of career interests which they are most likely to pursue.

But despite this advantage, internship isn’t without its hiccups, as students face the challenges of getting firms that would not just absorb them in their core areas of competence, but pay them monthly allowances.

Vanguard Learning investigation reveals that organisations such as banks request for IT students because of cheap labour, others do not wish to accommodate students who beg for placements, while some organisations will ask the students to pay for the knowledge that will be acquired.

Emeka Osinachi, a student of Computer Engineering, Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Imo State, narrating his experience, said; “I spent three months searching for a company to accept me. Three months down the line and after spending N30,000 on transport, I decided to take up a teaching position in a secondary school.”

When asked if this was relevant to his course of study and will give him the needed knowledge, he said he had no option than to find a means of getting some relevance from what he is currently doing.

Unlike Emeka, Nnamdi Ibe, HND 1 student of Computer Engineering, Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, who ‘knows someone that knows someone’, had it easy locating a firm to do his industrial training.

Nnamdi said he did not have to go through the ordeal some of his mates had to go through in locating a firm because he ‘knew somebody who knew somebody’.

Nnamdi said; “I met a classmate of mine three months into our internship crying because she could not find a company to accommodate her. I also know of classmates who did not find placements six months into our IT while others had to forge their reports after fruitless searches.”

When contacted, the YABATECH SIWES Coordinator, Mr. Okolie Nwabueze Peter, nonetheless said the schools understand the plight of students and are usually sympathetic when they report back with a record of what is not relevant to their fields.

When asked if the school makes any effort in obtaining placements for these candidates, he answered in the affirmative, saying “we do speak to some firms. I personally take some of the students to some firms but the challenge is, we do not have enough industries to accommodate these students. To this end, we, sometimes ask the students to talk to their parents if they can help with placements.”




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