The value of internships in choosing careers


There is enormous value in serving an internship either during one's tertiary
education or immediately after graduating, before making a final decision on a

This is according to Aslam Galant, who is Business Development and General
Manager in the Cape Town Division at Isilumko Staffing, a national recruitment
company, which offers temporary, flexible and permanent staff.

Galant says, "We conducted a survey amongst our own internees as well as
other respondents, who were selected from outside the company. Although the
responses were varied there was unanimity in the following areas:

One of the most important factors in serving an internship is that working in
a practical company environment prepares one better for what to expect when
you complete your chosen field of study.
Major benefits were getting a feel for the corporate world, bridging the
theoretical/practical divide, and working within a structured company
environment with a mentoring mentality.
Internships can be a means of securing permanent employment with a
particular company of choice that might otherwise have been out of reach. It's
an initial opportunity to impress the company with one's ability, work ethic and
to befriend decision makers.
We found that after the initial 6-12 month period of internship,
approximately 50% of interns are offered a permanent post. The only reason
that this figure is not higher is due to staff capacity issues in some

Galant says that there are two types of intern. The first is the graduate from a
tertiary institution, where they have a degree or diploma across many different
disciplines. Internships are designed to gain experience in the workplace and
usually last from 3 months to a maximum of 12 months. The second type is the
undergraduate who for example will spend 3 months doing in-house job
shadowing. In most cases there is no stipend paid, however the practical
experience gained can be invaluable in choosing a later career path once

Although there is no tax rebate for having interns, it does contribute
towards the B-BBEE scorecard in the Skills Development Expenditure category.
Businesses are advised to look at the relevant category under the sub-heading
Learnerships, Apprenticeships and Internships. Valuable points can be earned
here when employing black interns. Additional points can be added in various
categories including B, C and D, when the new codes come into effect on 30 April

Galant adds, "The payment of a monthly stipend to the intern is most
important. We pay all of our graduate interns a monthly stipend, although this is
not true for all businesses. In most cases the monthly stipend is self-funded by
the employer.

"The question is, how do prospective internees find companies that offer
Graduate Recruitment Programmes? Word of mouth appears to be the most
effective, especially when the person comes to a company highly recommended.
Otherwise, company websites are often helpful. Of course as a recruitment
company we can offer advice to prospective graduates who wish to enter this

"The consensus amongst the interns interviewed, was that job shadowing
was a wonderful experience for obtaining the relevant exposure to the way
various industries operate. It is one of the best introductions into the corporate
world, showing how it operates and provides a valuable lesson in understanding
the company dynamics. It also assists them in making a decision about which
industries they want to enter. It is a reminder of how difficult it can be to secure
a job in any discipline for which there is little or no demand.'

"We agree that it is important for school leavers and under-graduates to do job
shadowing, in order for them to make the correct decision about the field in
which they want to further their career. It has another major benefit, by
providing a benchmark for one?s marketability,' concludes Galant.

For more information please call 011 267 2920 (Gauteng) or 021 461 3609
(W Cape) or visit the website target="_new">Isilumko website