It was a regular day in one of our college days, we were busy chatting about the new movie that had released that weekend. Our plans to bunk the second half of the classes for the same movie were interrupted when the professor entered the class and announced a surprise test. Thus began the question and answer session.
We were all seated in tandem and I am sure most of us started calculating the time it would take for our turn. I remember this one particular scene so vividly. The teacher questioned this guy, “Give an explanatory example defining the concept of deadlock”. While the tense atmosphere clearly stated that we all were racking our brains trying to recall printer, process R1, process R2 for the accurate bookish definition, a student had a better answer. He said deadlock is when you apply for a job and they want work experience and for the experience, you should have a job. The grim silence in the room erupted with roars of laughter and the lecture ended.
This I believe is one of the major flaws of some of our professional courses; lack of exposure to work environment!
When my sister went to pursue law, her summer breaks were about interning at reputed law offices and learning the legalities in the law chambers. The grind of applying for 4 to 6 weeks of internships made her improvise her resume year after year, until she finally got placed in a well-known organization.
On the other hand, as an engineering student from the CS/IT branch, our breaks in summers and winters were more about learning coding and their application into developing software under the headline ‘project’. These coding classes were not any different than what we could have learnt back in college but the lack of professors in helping us trouble shoot the codes made us fall for learning options outside the classrooms. The projects that most of us learnt and prepared were devoid of capturing innovative ideas. Some conventional projects that had been presented then by the students and that I continue to evaluate 10 years later as a teacher, are online shopping and online examination system. Sigh!
This is not to say that things were always so lack lustrous in our study circle. I have studied under some genuinely student oriented teachers who made efforts in introducing us to the updated technologies. One such teacher in my M.Tech assigned us projects to develop an android app which could run effectively on any android mobile device. Thanks to the teacher I and my batch mates got our creative juices running. Later our resumes fared better in grabbing job profiles for having the practical knowledge of ADT (Android Development Toolkit). Therefore, as an engineer from the Computer Science field, I think the syllabus needs to evolve with the change in technology.
Some of my batch mates who had ambitious future plans opted to apply for developer positions in smaller IT companies, where they believed chances of learning are manifold. Their strong hold on coding skills can be attributed to the variety of projects they had worked on during the course through internships.
The other day I was watching a YouTube video about the fear of coding in students. The speaker presented a survey detailing the inability of the students to crack coding jobs in the industry. To those students, I instantly felt the urge to educate about various other possibilities of the CS/IT engineering branch. The job market is full of different profiles apart from developer posts that they can apply for, but blame it on the lack of knowledge, most students take a back seat and doubt their technical potential.
This by the way is what internships can teach us. A four year course is merely laying down the foundation, it should aim at generating curiosity in the young minds and should not make engineering degree the be-all and end-all.
I got in touch with some of my students who are now well settled in jobs. Since I had never undergone any internship program, except for the on job training at TCS, I approached them for a different perspective. According to them an internship or a short stint in the real job market has many advantages. Working under industry mentors makes students understand the real demands of the industry. It helps one to find their area of interest. For Ajay, coding always gave him sleepless nights but he discovered his love for graphics and design while interning. Another student Shweta wrote to me about her understanding of SRS (a software document signed in the beginning by both client and the developer) when she prepared a running project amidst deadline pressures. Raghav responded how a short time with a digital marketing team generated his interest in the same and he went on to learn and master SEO and got a job owing to his work experience. Prakhar stated that had he not interned, he would have never explored the crucial role of the testing phase in the software development lifecycle.
Many students will report their biggest grievance of college life, the unrealistic attendance criteria, it restricts them to apply for internships which need physical presence. However, there are many students who work on freelancing projects. I had a student in one of my classes who prepared good quality posters for the literary fests based on his knowledge of Photoshop software. He once mentioned to me about his earnings from working on online projects, right at the comfort of his hostel room. The figure he made out of his work was an added incentive which is why many students opt for internships remotely.
I am listing down some of the websites and portals which can help in finding good internships.
Several websites that offer technical know-how with clarity are:
Apart from these the students can apply at the summer training programs offered by top colleges across the country.
This blog is my attempt as a mentor, to educate students about the idea of exploring their professional potential through internships. As Steve Jobs once said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”