The invisible power of internships – Rajesh Nair
When we are at the entry portals of our careers or entrepreneurial journeys, we often have ‘hope’ as a clear virtue or attribute. There is a sense of accomplishment in every endeavour and imagination soars high and expectations know no bounds. Often, the reality of a workplace is different from the rigmarole, a young mind bargains for. Does that mean we need to teach the young to temper their aspirations? Well, a good alternative is to provide them an avenue to experience some of it themselves. Internships are a great way of doing that.
Internships have been around from the ancient days. The process of working intensely and assisting the ‘masters’ has been the credo of many a profession and skill in the past. The modern day version of internships for professionals is a route often explored, and now made mandatory in many institutions. The process is always well meaning and hopes the student gets the best of a ‘corporate experience’. At times the corporates also don’t see the ‘light’ of having interns. We often hear the laments of interns who complain that they got was warmed-over projects, company propaganda, and lots of social events, where they were but an extra pair of hands.
The popular ‘summer jobs’ culture which has been prevalent in the western countries is a great example of this phenomenon. Children from secondary schools pick up the odd jobs during the summer. The benefit is not just the ‘popcorn – movie’ that they earn from these stints, but also some lessons in working in a more structured environment, feel the intensity of doing tasks to deadlines.
We live in a world with a surfeit of data. A click of the button on a topic can churn enough information which can actively engage a human being for days and years. The diligence of reading and thinking needs time and this is increasingly becoming a rare commodity often. Once, we leave the portals of structured education, information becomes increasingly difficult to digest and make meaning of. Yet we cling on to several strands to assimilate what media, opportunity, and attention enable us at a particular point of time. This is most pronounced once we are in our careers and our entrepreneurial journeys.
It is also a great way to differentiate between accomplishing tasks than just getting busy with action. We often mistake activities and movement for concrete action. When we get busy with the quotidian and repetitive tasks, we also pile up a series of prosaic and not so important tasks that buries our calendar. The ‘Time Management’ principles are popular, and we have some very interesting frameworks including that of ‘7 Habits’ by the late Stephen Covey. But, what is useful is also a mental frame that helps you guide your work life…