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Why organizations should pay and train their interns

By George Githinji

In the last few years, organizations claim that the current groups of graduates are unemployable. They make further claims that universities and other tertiary institutions of learning are churning out ‘half-baked’ graduates whose needs are out of league with the needs and trends of the market.

What that means is that the current crop of graduates lack the necessary skills to fill the vacant positions in these organizations. While some of these claims might be true, the organizations also play a part in demeaning the skills and potential of these graduates.

Blaming the graduates does not solve the problem of their inexperience. The organizations are responsible in one way or another to develop the potential skills of students before they become graduates by offering them internships. However, many of them have negated the main essence of internships, which is to gain essential skills.

Rather than the internships becoming a source of hands-on knowledge for the interns, they end up being exploited. The interns are treated like slaves and subjected to heavy workloads and minimal free time.

Some interns are treated like office messengers. They are subjected to running errands and serving tea to the office staff. They are also subjected to somehow menial tasks such as filing that is way out of line with their academic specialization.

At the end of the internship, the interns barely learn anything that relates to what they study in class. If this happens continuously, and when they graduate, they barely have any experience to carry out or fit in the job of their choice.

Therefore, organizations need to ensure that they set aside funds to pay their interns. Most of the time, the stipend is small but it is essential because it facilitates bus fare and lunch for the interns. This puts morale in them to deliver quality services. In addition, employers should stop treating interns like slaves or casual workers and later cry foul that the interns are ‘unemployable’.

Apart from that, the organizations need to train their interns. They cannot cry foul that graduates are unemployable when they ask for 2-5 years’ experience from graduates who have no training whatsoever. If that falls through, then we can have fewer ‘half-baked’ graduates and the organizations will take pride in having an efficient workforce.

The writer is a socio-political commentator and he blogs at Political Kenyan

About shitemi khamadi

Shitemi is the Kenya Monitor Managing Editor. He trains journalists on basics of journalism, storytelling, conflict sensitive journalism and devolution.

2 comments

  1. I totally agree with you on this. Interns should be trained and paid. Most organizations just look at interns as messengers and people who are there to do petty jobs that does not even need any experience. But when it comes to employment, they ask for 2 or 3 years experience. Where do they expect such experience to come from?

    • Training was once the centre stage of many organizations. But they decided to ‘cut back’ on costs and they don;t train anymore, yet they expect more. Talk of double standards.

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