Full-time internships for students don’t make sense
Being a full-time university student is no joke. You have migraine-inducing 300 and 400-level courses to balance alongside elusive deadlines, uncooperative groupmates, and a terminally ill social life. Add tuitions, side hustles, and club commitments to this chaotic mess, and you have the typical overworked and under-rewarded university senior.
While salvation from 8 AM classes seem close, students need to pass one last hurdle before corporate life: a full-time internship. Even though internships are meant to prepare final year students for a work life, many companies tend to advertise them to students still taking courses. This rarely benefits young people and often ends up being a burden on their academic lives.
Taking internships during one's university degree is very common in many countries abroad, and most students facilitate these opportunities to gain experience and money while working on their degrees. However, most students in Bangladesh take a single internship at the very end of their degree programme. A big reason for this is the trimester system that the majority of private universities follow, which doesn't leave any scope for students to engage in internships during their degree without making a trade-off with their academics.
Full time internships need the same time commitments as a job, meaning many places require you to be at work five days a week. Additionally, internships last for 10 to 12 weeks, the same as an entire university semester, making it impossible to take a full course load alongside it. Posing a trade-off between the internship and your academics, you can either take the internship and forego an entire semester, or miss out on such experiences and continue with your degree.
Sadly, there's no win-win situation here, and you're missing out one way or the other.
More likely than not, the internship these students get will be unpaid. This is a big problem primarily because most students don't have the financial solvency to afford a whole semester of working for free. Even if internships do pay, they underpay tremendously, making them exploitative as you'll be doing a great deal of work for peanuts.
Sadly, not all internships are valuable learning experiences. There lies a big power difference between young students and the organisations, and many companies tend to exploit this. Many internship programmes will substitute assistants for interns and leave them to do menial tasks and grunt work that doesn't add any real-life expertise or value. This can make the whole experience feel unfulfilling and demotivating.
While I'm not arguing against full-time internships, the culture of advertising them towards naive second-year students and proceeding to overwork and underpay them doesn't sit right with me. Organisations shouldn't mislead inexperienced students into meaningless internship programmes and outsource clerical responsibilities to them.
Turns out Taaseen Mohammed Islam can write semi-decently at the expense of being able to do basic math. Send him pointers at [email protected]