Are internships still relevant?


What is an intern supposed to do? Almost all college graduates have worked as interns at one point or another. Many still remember learning things from scratch, some of which were not related to their academic majors, such as sorting through documents or delivering the mail.


Nowadays, when college students in China, especially those pursuing "hot" majors such as finance and business, look for internships or part-time jobs, their wish list contains mostly multinational companies or top government agencies. It is as if they see internship as a test run for landing a dream job. They consider part-time jobs involving manual tasks as demeaning and a waste of time.


So what happened to learning basic skills, such as teamwork, and gaining "social experience"? Are today's young people particularly ambitious, or has school already furnished them with all the basic skills they need to move onto more advanced tasks?


Many employers seem to disagree. They complain that a lot of the top graduates are ambition-rich and skill-poor. Even if they have gained in-depth knowledge and advanced skills in particular areas, many young people are socially inept, which could in turn hamper their career growth in the future.


Do today's young people still need to look for "basic" internships in small businesses or even take on more manual jobs before they can go out to conquer the world?



Young people can only learn social skills in the real world.


1. Even though basic jobs don't require rich knowledge or advanced skills, they can teach young people how to work with other people and find their place in society. This is the most important foundation for starting a successful career.


2. Most employers prefer people with previous work experience, especially those with strong social and team-working skills. Lots of basic jobs, even if only manual work, can provide such experience and qualities.


3. Only very few students can get internships at top firms or government agencies. Most students, in order to gain real-life experience and develop deeper social skills, still have to look for internship opportunities in small businesses or even take up manual jobs.



The economic and social conditions are different now.


1. With a surfeit of migrant workers and as China shifts toward the service sector from heavy industry, there are fewer labor-oriented jobs available to young people today, even if they want to look for internships or jobs in that sector.


2. Colleges and universities have become a lot more socially inclusive than in the days when higher education was considered an elite privilege, and they are now capable of equipping students with good social and interpersonal skills. Students no longer need jobs to fulfill this need.


3. There are many entry-level internship opportunities available these days with big companies and high-profile organizations, and not all of them require advanced professional skills. They can enable young people to better prepare for the future.