School students and teachers believe internships need to be introduced at the school level and not just in colleges and universities to help them cope in an increasingly competitive world and give them a “hands-on experience”.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) recently announced all undergraduate students in recognised Indian universities will have to compulsorily do a research internship for eight to ten weeks, basing the decision on the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 recommendation that internships should be promoted and made compulsory.
“According to NEP 2020, the world is undergoing rapid changes and there is a need for a skilled workforce with multidisciplinary abilities, changing employment landscapes and global ecosystems are increasingly critical and these opportunities must be given to the students,” said Gayatri V, the principal of Podar International School in Bengaluru.
Describing internship opportunities as “hands-on experience for students”, she added, “NEP 2020 also focuses on the development of critical thinking and problem solving among students. It also expects schools to bridge the gap between the current state of learning outcomes and what is actually required. Developing these life skills will channelise students’ efforts into developing a workforce with multidisciplinary abilities.”
“Internships beautifully curate that real-life experience,” Nitina Dua, the head of the Career Guidance Centre at Noida’s Shiv Nadar School, told indianexpress.com. “These experiences give students a chance of self-discovery and promote the ‘I can do this’ emotion in them which is very necessary. Along with that, the internships also help them gain experience and skills, while boosting their confidence and giving them a reality check.”
Some schools such as Shiv Nadar have set up career counselling centres and motivate parent communities to bring in leads about internships in a bid to ensure safety and maximum output for students. Other schools such as Podar International hold career fairs on school campuses. Schools are also promoting jobs such as a beautician, handyman, chef and more.
“The idea of internship and what it entails was floated in the month of January 2022 and a career fair was organised at the school premise to which professionals—beautician, dancer, businessman, chef, athlete, photographer, IAS officer, commander—were invited to share their experience in choosing a profession, their success stories, and failures if any were with students. This led to students requesting internships with some,” said Gayatri V of Podar International School.
Private schools also ensure that students know what they are opting for instead of blindly following a trend. “We provide two types of internships—point of surety and point of dilemma. If a student is sure that he/she wants to become a veterinarian, then we help them get an internship in that area. However, if some student is confused if they want to become a counsellor or a veterinarian, then we try to get them opportunities related to animal behaviour or something similar that helps them understand the veterinarian side as well as the psychological aspect of it, which will eventually help them decide,” explained Dua of Shiv Nadar School.
‘There is a world outside’
Divyanshi Sharma, a college-goer who has been interning since her high school days, said students from classes 8 to 12 believe that internships will give them “the opportunity to experience the real world, rather than getting stuck behind our theory books”. “When I interned with an online start-up I realised that there is a world outside the protected walls of my school. It was this internship that taught me how to behave in a professional manner, talk to people, stand up in crowds with confidence, and learn that there are bigger difficulties than passing exams,” added Sharma.
Anamitra Jaiswal, a Class 12 student at Shiv Nadar School, thanked her school’s career guidance centre, saying “it helped build her as an individual” and the opportunities helped her understand what she aims to do. “There have been multiple internship opportunities that I have experienced but the two that stand out the most are HCL and Linkube. The latter helped me get experiences in different areas including marketing, planning and organising, calling people to promote our programmes, getting volunteers, and connecting with people. All in all, this opportunity gave me the chance to experience everything,” she said.
Students have also started looking for internships independent of their schools to ensure that they do not waste their time and utilise it to get some experience. “My school works in a very old-fashioned way. It still wants us to only concentrate on holiday homework, projects etc, which I personally believe will do me no good. So, I have had to hustle a little extra but I managed to get an internship which gave me something to add to my resume. I had to work a little extra to complete the tasks given by my school as well as the company I had joined, but in the end, when I got an experience letter, it was all worth it,” said a Class 11 student who did not to be named.