Remember your first day at college? A worried mind that couldn’t find the right classroom, confused eyes that searched for help; what is glorified as a new time in your professional life; a moment to mark your entry into the future. Now, look at you, you’ve gotten past the confusion and learned your way around campus enough to give guided tours.
College life is all about living in and out of textbooks and assignments and of course, the ridiculous stories and liberating experiences. However, what a lot of students in the U.A.E need to realize is that it’s not a ladder that you climb from school to college to job. For after all your courses and theoretical study, what will eventually get you up the corporate ladder is what you bring to the table – skill sets, ideas and technical know-how, no matter what your field. You can’t have confused eyes on your first day at work – your employer would rather not have that.
The only way to clamber up skyscrapers in this big, beautiful city of Dubai? Internships.
Sameera Unnisa, who works in the Marketing department at Saffron Media and Entertainment, one of Dubai’s fastest growing media houses, tells us how internships can polish up that C.V and make you a stand-out candidate:
“Internships are definitely essential for students as they are a proven way to gain on-the-job experience, & exposure to the current market. It also helps boost confidence and makes attaining full time jobs in the future a lot easier. Companies share the benefits, as the youth of today is more talented, skilled and creative, which makes the company look at new perspectives.”
There is a lack of skill and training in recent graduates – they may be brilliant students, but when it comes to performing the job, they’re caught off guard. In most industries, one employee handles multiple job descriptions and recruitment is a long, tedious process because candidates have to be highly qualified.
Many multinational companies have their branches in the Middle East. Opting for an internship with them will give you a glimpse at the national and global scenario. If you’re complaining that you work for free, then it’s high time you weighed between cash and experience. You are a fresher as good as a horse with blinders on: you can’t be paid for that. Of course, once you get the blinders off and look around far and wide, the money will come in due time.
To give you some perspective, even in developing counties like India and Sri Lanka, most students have at least one-two years of internship experience under their belts at graduation, which makes post-graduation a much less stressful time. So, get up and go, go, go.
When we asked Harsh Chowdhary, a recent graduate from Manipal University, Dubai how his internships helped him, he said “Besides gaining skills, one also gets to meet people from different nationalities and understand their work modes, which is a big asset once you graduate and go into full-time. Internships provide you a platform to showcase your abilities, sharpen your soft skills, stretches you mental barriers, forces you to work under pressure and makes you think hard. It basically gears you up for your future corporate endeavors.”
Not convinced? Here are some stats. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE):
- 60% of 2012 graduates who interned in the past received at least one job offer.
- 95% of employers look for graduates with experience.
- Organizations converted 58.6% of their interns into full-time hires.
- 4% of employers say that their internship program is designed to help their organization recruit entry-level hires.
How do I go about this? Start here:
1. Who says stalking is a bad thing?
Find out using social media if you know anyone who could get you a placement. You could put on a status, scroll through your friends list and make mental notes of people who could be helpful, or even browse through your LinkedIn network to find relevant and potential HR heads who could help.
Start following groups and people who are on the rise in your field.
B-Change tip: Emails sent to generic addresses fall on deaf screens, so get the right persons e-mail [and don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and start dialing].
2. You don’t have to be invisible.
Head to relevant conferences, workshops and discussions. The more exposure you get to professionals, the more you can make up your mind about the future.
B-Change tip: Likely that you don’t have business cards. Get crafty and scribble your name, university, number and e-mail with a cute/funny comment at the bottom [Make them laugh and they’ll remember you]. Expressing your personality in newer organizations is a plus.
3. Have an impressive C.V, but also be relentless in getting the right people to read it
You may want to get a little creative here – use a personalized color palette, get your own logo, start by quoting yourself, but keep it professional. It might catch their eye.
Stick to bullets more than paragraphs. Write your achievements as well as your work experience clearly. Mention the skills acquired under each job experience. Try getting a quote or two from your supervisor.
B-Change tip: My Editor told me a story of a man who applied to an agency by burying his C.V in scroll inside a cake. Legend. Be fearless.
4. Start as early as your 1st year of college.
It helps show the recruiters and HR managers that you are willing to work hard. Once at work, make sure you give your best shot. You might be asked to do a job diametrically unrelated to your field but make sure you take it in stride.
B-Change tip: If you don’t want to dive in, take small steps. Get active on campus. Any contribution counts.
So, fellows, get hunting and make this summer worthwhile. Trust me; it’s better than sitting in front of the TV and eating popcorn all day. Do it after work & you’ll rejoice it all the more!