Many students that I know of have looked at work integrated learning with a little bit of hesitation. I can’t really blame them, to be honest. There have been some strange tales of interns who have been forced to serve the coffee, drive the company vehicle or be an administrator for the duration of their work integrated learning period.
Admittedly there are some organisations that do this. However for the most part if people did their research and chose a work integrated learning programme carefully, this could be a very beneficial experience to your career.
1) It helps to develop your soft skills
When you get into any work zone, you will gain invaluable exposure to a proper working environment. You will go on a journey that allows for you to meet others, learn how to communicate with people from different walks of life and learn how to integrate socially in any environment.
2)Work integrated learning provides hands-on training
No textbook or theoretically-based guide can ever prepare you for the real hands-on training you receive at a workplace. You will be able to meet with people who can impart their wisdom to you and show you in practical terms what you need to learn. One unique way of getting some form of work integrated experience even if you are in industry is to study a part time course even while you’re in industry.
3) You have more realistic expectations of the work environment
When we are growing up, we have highly idealised notions of what it means to be a doctor, a lawyer, a nurse, palaeontologist… I think you get the picture. As we join companies and learn a bit more about them through their integrated learning approach, we find that the rose tinted lenses fall off and we are faced with reality. One of two things could happen. Either we fall in love with the industry or we go back to the drawing board for a more realistic fit.
4) You are able to determine earlier on, if the industry is for you
As mentioned, it is easy to get swept up in a haze of dreaminess when it comes to your expectations of any industry. Sometimes we can stay with an impossible notion longer than expected, and get a grave shock when we are finally faced with the reality of what the industry is about. With workplace learning we are able to tell early on if the industry is for us or not and cut our losses and get out if we need to.
5) Earn while you Learn
Many companies offering work integrated learning give you the opportunity to get some much needed career growth and development. But while you are at it, you can also earn some money. Many work integrated learning programs offer a small stipend or salary and while it may not be the biggest sum in the world, it can cover travel expenses and can be a rewarding experience.
Choosing to embark on any professional journey can be seen as a something of a gamble. There are many different ways to find out about an industry. But none of them are more specific than actually getting hands on experience in a working environment. Why not try out work integrated learning?
To find out more about our course offerings and to access more personal and professional development blogs, visit www.damelin.co.za
By Laeeka Khan
Image Source: http://microbiology.science.oregonstate.edu