Summer internships for students go online: How does it work?

Pranita Roy
Friday, 8 May 2020

Summer internships, an essential bridge between a student’s academic and professional life, will go online in major sectors owing to the present coronavirus lockdown.

Pune: Summer internships, an essential bridge between a student’s academic and professional life, will go online in major sectors owing to the present coronavirus lockdown. With several companies offering employees work from home, internships for most of the technology-driven streams -- information technology (IT) will most likely be online. Other non-IT companies have either turned down internships to students or have asked them to join later.

Colleges’ training and placement officers (TPO) have stated that their students have been asked to join online internships at present. Colleges have also been thinking of facilitating an alternative option against a summer internship to students, especially those whose internships have been revoked, given the current scenario.

Internship online-mode
Karthick Subramanian, the Vishwakarma Institute of Technology (VIT) TPO, stated that fortunately none of their internship offers have been revoked yet. “There were 120 students of third-year who were expecting summer internships now, out of these 20 students are from non-IT streams. Most IT companies have asked students to start an online internship with the companies. While, rest of the students have been notified to join the company for the internship after two-three months, as and when the situation normalises,” said Subramanian.

He also stated that it would not hamper the academic conduct of students, “as the academic sessions are likely to start from September,” he added.

Santosh Borde, the Federation of Training and Placement Officers Chairman, stated that colleges could give alternatives against internships like survey projects, market research, or say if a student is pursuing any course from Coursera or any other platform for upskilling at present, then the college can consider it in the current situation. Students can do these sitting at home.

Borde, who is also TPO at JSPM group of institutes, said that JSPM’s Rajarshi Shahu College of Engineering which is autonomous has identified some areas wherein students have been given some options in which 60 hours will be considered an internship. He also stated that more avenues are being explored where virtual internships can be offered. For example, Internshala or similar portals -- which can support work from home for students, Borde told Sakal Times.

Citing conditions posed by prospective companies for an internship, Borde said that at present there are three conditions. In some cases, companies have refused an internship. In most cases, it will happen through virtual mode, and remaining cases joining date for internship have been delayed. Across JSPM 300 engineering students were expecting an internship; around 100 students will be doing an online internship. About 40-50 internships have been declined. While internships for rest have been delayed, he informed.

Scenario in traditional college
“By and large internships of post-graduate students in our college have been affected a bit. These students have six months of compulsory internship as part of their syllabus. Mostly small scale companies or industries have denied an internship at present-- as they are shut temporarily. A few bigger companies have agreed to provide online internships to IT sector students, but most of them have refused stipend,” said Modern College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Shivajinagar campus’s Internal Quality Assurance Cell coordinator Anjali Sardesai.

“Microbiology students have been doing their internships -- a few are associated currently with Serum Institute as well. Biotechnology students are unable to do so as they have to work in labs and most of them are closed at present. Engineering faculty hasn’t completed their examination as of yet; students start their internship after the examination only. And as of now, both are hanging a bit,” she said. 

She also added 30-40 per cent of internship in commerce faculty has also got hampered due to the current situation. 

Sardesai informed that the college is planning to offer an alternative option for students who haven’t at all got an internship opportunity this summer. 

“We have been discussing this for quite a sometime now. We have planned to assign a few internal projects to students who weren’t able to intern anywhere. These projects will be like, for example, developing a digital museum for college departments say of economics, botany or zoology etc.” said Sardesai.

How can online internship work?
Sensing the future and need for an online internship, career training company Talerang founder Shveta Raina spoke about how can the online internship structure be developed. 

“The online or work from home model requires a few aspects from the hiring company - first a formal on-boarding and training, second, a structured internship project. Plus strong management skills, and daily fixed check-ins/meeting times between the intern and manager. This allows the intern to have clear time-bound goals and specific targets and deliverables,” said Raina. 

“On the part of the intern, they need to be self-motivated and eager and also tech-savvy to handle the systems such as google drive, Zoom, or whatever other platforms are required,” she added. 

The University Grants Commission (UGC) in its fresh notification, especially for internship has recommended a few measures for the universities/colleges keeping in view the current lockdown due to COVID-19. It suggested the following measures

  • Allow the students to take up ‘online internships/activities’ including the activities that can be carried out digitally or otherwise from home. 
  • Engage them to work as interns on ongoing projects. 
  • Delay the start date for the internship. 
  • Reduce the period of internship clubbing with assignments etc.

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