Internship: Only “on Paper” or a Career Jumpstart?
“I want my studies to prepare me for life” – that’s what we often hear from students looking for the right programme and those already at college. At college, where practical knowledge is given special and constant attention, internships in companies are one of the ways to do this and to try out a future profession. We interviewed one of the college’s internship supervisors, Julia Jančak, a lecturer of translation technology, to find out how it works, what students learn and whether an internship can be the first step in a career.
Internship in a company – a chance to test your future career
Julija Jančak manages the internship of English for International Communication students. It starts at the end of their second year and continues throughout the summer. According to her, the internship in a company is valuable in many ways. The students test themselves in their future careers, apply the knowledge they have acquired in lectures, see how they work and perform their tasks, expand their circle of acquaintances, acquire better communication, teamwork and international skills, information-seeking skills and similar skills.
“I am happy to say that the students at Vilnius Business College are great at this. For them, an internship is not just another tick on the to-do list. Our students are motivated and, as they say themselves, they apply everything they have learnt so far. They experience what a working day is like in the company, how meetings are held, the processes within the company, who is responsible for what, how communication within the company and with partners and clients takes place,” says the internship supervisor.
In our experience, students that are responsible, creative and hard-working receive job offers from company managers before they have even finished their studies, so later they have to learn how to combine their studies at college with work.
Supervisor helps to review your results
Students start looking for a place to do their internship at the beginning of their second year. Most of them find the company themselves, others choose from the offers on the college’s website, and some use the recommendations of their supervisor, who usually has a wide range of contacts.
The role of the internship supervisor doesn’t end there. He or she acts as an intermediary between the company and the student and accompanies the student throughout the internship. “During the first consultation, students are given an overview of how things work, where to look for internships, how to communicate with company managers and so on. Once a company is found, a tripartite agreement is signed between the student, the college and the company. Then the individual work begins. The student is not left alone during this part of the process either. If the students don’t know what to do or if misunderstandings happen, the internship supervisor is the first person you turn to for help and advice,” said Jančak.
At the end of the internship, the student submits an internship report with a folder of the work done. On the appointed date, the students of the course get together and give presentations to each other, using slides they have prepared. They talk about the practical experience, challenges, problem-solving techniques, etc. In lecturer’s opinion, such presentations are immensely useful. “Students develop their analytical skills, learn how to select and present information in a structured way, strengthen their presentation and public speaking skills, and, as they have to do all this in English (as required by their degree programme – English for International Communication), they further consolidate their knowledge of the English language”.
Flexible work-life balance
Students at Vilnius Business College undertake two to three internships throughout their studies. The internship under Jančak’s supervision covers 310 hours, so there is plenty of time for real experience. According to Jančak, students must work for about 5 hours a day, so the internship does not consume all their time – it is flexibly combined with personal life and work, as many students at Vilnius Business College have jobs. “It all depends on the agreement with the head of the company. The internship schedule is flexible. You can choose your own work rhythm, do tasks from home and then contact a mentor at the company, etc. Some people do their internships in companies where they are already working. Of course, only if it is possible to coordinate all activities and tasks,” the lecturer emphasises.
Trainee – an opportunity to rear workforce
In Lithuania, companies are usually keen to take on trainees because it gives the opportunity to find and grow a future employee, spread out the workload, etc. This is especially important today, when reliable, hard-working and responsible employees are in short supply, so Vilnius Business College invites company representatives looking for employees in a particular field to contact the college administration.
“The feedback about the students of Vilnius Business College is really excellent. I can see this from the reports that company representatives fill in at the end of the internship. They praise our students for their ability to work independently and in a team, communication skills, quick reactions and good knowledge. Every time I read this, I feel happy and proud,” says internship supervisor Julija Jančak.