By Muhammad Faiz
Throughout university years, one of the things most students would dread the most is probably having to go through a period of Internship attachment with companies or organisations. Not many students have the enthusiasm and patience to go through practical training because they feel nervous or are afraid of the thought of having to face reality on the ground, particularly if they are not mentally prepared to face the challenges of work place.
On the other hand, some students do make preparations leading up to their Internship, as they will tick every checkbox in the steps that require to be taken to get themselves prepared. Students need to make sure that they have everything they require to go through their Internship.
To be fully prepared for Internship, one must possess certain skills, traits and behaviours. It is important to have these skills to meet the expectations of the industry.
No doubt, Internship attachment is a must for university undergraduates as this would provide them with a platform to apply the knowledge and philosophy they have acquired in the university at work place, at the same time, to gain work experience and industry exposure.
In social media these days we have this new trend especially on Twitter, where you can find tweets published on various topics and one of the common threads that runs through the discussion relates to resume writing and official documents connected with job application or even seeking for a place for Internship.
I have interviewed some of our university students, who are currently doing their Internship or have just completed their practical training attachment at various organisations, to find out directly from them what actually are the traits required and the industry expectation of interns. Without much hesitations, the interns shared their experiences they have gone through with our readers.
Communication student, Nurraihan Yusof, who did her internship at Radio TelevisIon Malaysia (RTM), Langkawi, expressed her concerns that students should be able to communicate well. She said it is a good platform for students to train themselves in writing and communication by joining either IIUMToday or IUM.fm.
“My advice for the students to be fully prepared physically and mentally before embarking on Internship. Be proactive and do not wait for your supervisor to give you work, but have the initiative to find work and work on it,” she told IIUMToday.
IIUMToday’s very own journalist, Mahadhir Monihuldin, who went on his own to do Internship at Cilisos and Lejen Press, said that the Internship programme is really crucial for students “to learn to embrace their feelings of inadequacy”.
“Being a newbie in a workplace surrounded by people with lots of experience while you, yourself have nothing at all, can be a very intimidating predicament to be in.
“It can really pick your confidence apart. Many would get mired down by the sense of inferiority that they feel. Therefore, one needs to respond to this, not by dismissing the fact that they are not as experienced as everyone else, but to realise it is a fact you cannot run away,” Mahadhir said.
Mahadhir went on to say that keeping a journal during Internship is essential so that “we can record every shortcoming that we faced daily”. He said, “Once we have identified our flaws, we can turn those into our strength.”
Public relations-major student, Naimah Ahmad Sazaki, who is doing Internship at CIMB Tower, encouraged students to read up on job scope as it is important to acquire the knowledge regarding the industry or the works in hand.
She said that students need to develop good reading and writing skills so that they can produce quality work. In addition, a sense of competitiveness is also a must so that they can aspire to be better and work on the same level with other staff.
“I would encourage students to get an internship attachment at an organisation you are interested in as it is such a valuable experience. Try to get a place which you are really interested to learn and apply your knowledge. Not only that, try to find a place with a good reputation. The information can be accessed on websites or by attending events like career fairs,” Naimah added.
Another intern, Hidayah Salleh, who is on attachment at Media Prima, had this to say. That research is a must, as it is better for the students to be prepared first, even before going for Internship attachment. Besides that, she advised the students to have an open mind and avoid being whiny at all costs “as we have to be unconsciously prepared for it while studying and doing group assignments”. She stressed the importance for interns to have confidence in the tasks assigned.
“I remembered my first day of Internship, I was nervous because Media Prima is a big company, naturally they have high expectations on the interns. As time progressed, I found that learning from experience is a good process and I can practice what I have learned in IIUM. Thanks to all lecturers who have showed concerns for students to acquire knowledge and skills,” she told IIUMToday.
Meanwhile, journalism student Azra Farzana Shuib, who did her internship at Communications and Multimedia Consumer Forum of Malaysia (CFM), told IIUMToday that soft skills are very important apart from the knowledge gained in the university. She said interns must always be willing to learn something new, be humble, have a good discipline, and a pleasant attitude to be able to adapt to the work environment and culture.
“Well, I think that the best advice is to prepare yourself early by having the right mindset as it is vital to have that before looking for the right company. Look for companies that enable you to learn more, explore more, have a good environment, as well as great leaders to be your mentor.
Do not miss out career fairs or any industry engagement, held by the university, to expand your networking, learn from industry movers and shakers. Most importantly is to know the trend of employees’ skills that the companies are looking for,” she told IIUMToday.
Asked about her proudest memory, she replied, “I cannot really choose which one I am most proud of, but the most memorable one is when my academic supervisor said he is proud to have me there representing IIUM, as somehow I have made a good impression.”
History-major student and former intern at Just International, Iz’zati Abdul Khalid, expressed that survival and soft skills are vital as students should know how to survive in the industry. Besides that, she said that an intern needs to offer help to the staff and one should “never be a passive intern”.
“I felt proud when I organised events and forum for the company and they were smoothly and successfully run,” she added.
Nadia Omar, who did her internship in TM New Media, said that in her opinion students should equip themselves with the necessary skills before doing internship as the organisation will give tasks beyond what they have studied in the university.
“Therefore, it is an opportunity to show what we are capable of completing any given task. Thus, we must learn many things as much as possible and seek advice from lecturers to decide the best place for your internship,” Nadia said.
“I am very proud when I was able to help my company to produce something beneficial for HyppTV and TM as I am in-charge for producing quick facts for the installers and helped design an application for TM Rewards,” she added.
Another student, Farah Adilah who did her internship at Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam Darat (SPAD), said that “students need to expect the unexpected in a sense that we must prepare by acquiring various skills beforehand”.
“It is because sometimes the given task required us to apply new skills that we rarely use or never have. Thus, it is advisable for students to acquire various skills like video making and writing to make sure we prepare for the internship,” Farah said.
“I have experienced handling event management such as inviting guests for Majlis Rumah Terbuka Hari Raya SPAD (SPAD Hari Raya Open House) and this is the thing I never learned in my study, so to find out that I could do it is really amazing. Besides that, I was able to be part of visit time for the Malaysia Rapid Transit (MRT) before it was open to the public. I am proud to be a part of that history,” she told IIUMToday.
It does bring important questions regarding the matter – Internship. What kind of skills and traits that fresh graduates need to have? How would the skills and traits help future graduates? What do company employers look for?
Based on the interview above and my own research, I am listing down here some of the important things that students should consider understanding them before they are ready to go for Internship attachment.
- Be prepared
As we know, before applying for any place for Internship one needs to have all official documents done such as resume, cover letter, and copies of certificates. It is to believe that preparations would make students appear more confident of themselves.
The candidates also need to study the background of the organisation or the company they intend to seek for attachment. Some of the things that all graduates must know before enrolling as interns are what sort of company or organisation, what field of business they specialise in, what kind of job scope are required to be performed, and the company’s milestones. By doing this it would indicate to the recruiters that students have done their homework, apart from giving a good impression to the organisation.
- Be professional
When it comes to being professional, it is very important for the students to be one, especially at workplace setting. Not only that, it is even more important for students to display their professionalism and ability to deliver. For example, they need to know how to communicate well using the email. Some university students are known to just send a blank email with only one or a few documents attached. Recruiters and lecturers can attest to that based on their experiences faced in dealing with university students.
Besides that, students need to realise the importance and the significance of the subject or topic for the email. It does show the purpose for the email and this would help the receiver to determine the level of importance or priority, as for each email received, the organisation would know how to prioritise.
- Manage work and time wisely
Time management is essential in our daily lives to make it much easier for anyone especially for students to navigate through different sides of their lives. It is the things that we need to instil within ourselves because it is so important to be punctual. However, it is hard for a society that is commonly associated with being late to be so punctual.
By managing our time wisely, it will be much easier to manage work efficiently. It will benefit them in becoming much more productive in a workplace. Thus, manage your time wisely by disciplining yourselves to a routine or a schedule. It can be done by making a weekly or even a daily schedule to familiarise with. All students must know that every company would look for efficient students as their interns.
- Be collaborative and supportive
Internship period is like a test trial for a real world. A real world that we are talking about is a world outside of studying in any educational institution and it is hard to maintain and face it sometimes. This is because it is so deeply important for the interns to be collaborative and supportive in their time as interns.
However, what does it mean being collaborative or being supportive?
Companies or organisations will always want to recruit workers who are collaborative and supportive. Due to that, amazing interns should have the initiative to be proactive in their job and the only way to do that is by being collaborative and supportive. For example, the interns need to be of help that everyone else needs in any way possible to show they have the ability and the capability to do so.
- Keep every task and project in proper record
Documentation is an easy way to keep track of everything. It could be used as an evidence for the students to prove what they have done to the recruiters. There are different types of documentations such as a lanyard, pictures and testimonials. This is why everyone should keep all of their documentations safe. One of the places where they can keep the documentation is LinkedIn websites.
The thing about documentation is it helps to become our own scrapbook and it does show to other people what we are made of. Besides that, it does help in a sense of showing off your abilities and capabilities to recruiters who will be checking out your social media before deciding to hire you as a worker or even as an intern. As amazing as keeping track of the things that we have done, sometimes it might seem as a narcissistic gesture for some people, but it is best not to let it dictate our lives as it is important for us to take it upon ourselves to elevate our abilities and capabilities in life.
As a conclusion, it is our responsibility to take charge of our own destiny. Let us become much more proactive and have the initiative to show our future employers that we are full of potentials that are waiting to be unravelled. Once we have shown to other people our deep potentials, we can fully utilise them and become better contributors to our society. ***