Reasons why an internship is important to IT students in Zimbabwe
An intern is a trainee student who works in an organization, sometimes without pay, usually to satisfy requirements for a qualification. Some question the importance and necessity of internship during the learning course of students at universities and colleges. They think it must not be part of their learning process but something to be done after the studies and the biggest controversy arises from students having to pay fees while on attachment/internship. I can not answer for all, but I think internship is very necessary and important for IT students in particular. Following are reasons why internship is important for IT students, paid or not paid.
Gain IT related work experience
They say experience is the best teacher. Nomatter how much the lecturers explain the concepts, there are things you will only understand by hands on experience. In IT, this experience is very important. The field/industry presents different scenarios of concepts and perhaps problems taught at college and you learn different ways of approaching and solving them. I remember when we learnt about routers and configurations in networking lectures. We only used one type of router to follow through what we were being taught. But in the industry you get to work with different routers, different computers, different systems, different problems. At the end of the internship period you get experience.Internship presents interns the opportunity to apply what they have learnt. Life does not care how much you know, it cares more on how much you can apply from what you know.
Perfect career path coices
As explained in my previous article on why someone must consider studying information technology in 2019, IT presents you with many career choices which can only be perfected by industrial attachment. I personally discovered that as you move from one course/module to another during your studies at university or college, you may desire one career to another so much that by the time you do 10 modules you are already confused which career to stick to after your studies. Internship allows you the opportunity to experience your choices hands on, resulting in an unbiased judgement. I have however also discovered that for most students, they end up persuing careers aligned to what they were doing during attachment, nothing wrong with this.
Gives an advantage in the job market
Internship gives you an advantage in the job market by helping to build your resume. Employers prefer someone who has at least some in the industry experience in IT. The responsibilities you had during internship, the experience you acquired, all can be added to your resume and this gives you an advantage over someone who has no experience at all. The other advantage here is that you will be more comfortable with any position you are given. Imagine occupying a position as project Manager straight from college, you will not feel comfortable at least for the first 3 months if you are not fired by then.
Develop and refine skills
For an IT intern, internship period also helps to develop and refine skills. My second year at college before going for attachment, I was able to develop a website. But the design was not so good at all (I discovered this after going for attachment). Before attachment, I thought I was the best website deveoper ever. The other think was speed. I could take ages to do one website. Internship changed all that, my skills were perfected and refined. At attachment you learn new cheats that make work easier and enjoyable. Internship can also help to even develop new skills. There was no one to do hardware staff at the company I was attached. I was given this task. The first few days it was very difficult but I thank God someone who was a senior web developer happened to be good as well in hardware, taught me. In 2 months I was a guru, new skill acquired!
There can be monetary benefits in some organizations and this is a plus. As an intern you should however not use this as factor to decide whether to take or to deny intership offers. As an IT intern, take an offer that presents opportunities to learn more, than to get paid more. It is better not getting paid today but earning skills that assures you of getting employed and paid well tommorow. If you can stike both skills and payment during attachment then, thank God. Those with monetary benefit in Zimbabwe can even relieve their parents fees payments during the attachment period.
This is one big advantage of attachement that many do not value. Attachement period presents opportunities of networking, professional networking. The importance of networking is that you get the knowledge of those who have been in the IT industry years before you. They pass the knowledge to you on how you can accomplish what they have accomplished and perhaps more. Opportunities these days also flow with networks. More networks of good qualities usually brings more opportunities of the same quality.
Soft skills benefit
Industrial attachment also affords you the opportunity to learn soft skills that enable you to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. This is important for you as an IT person. Such skills may not be taught at college, but through experience you acquire them.
These are therefore some of the important things that IT interns may forgo by denying the necessity of the attachment period. For IT students, I think attachment is a must.
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