Ensure interns are not shortchanged

The problem of internship arrangements is more serious than what Mr Frankie Mao highlighted (Interns' pay shows how much firms value them; May 6).

Students are not only taken advantage of by companies which treat them as a source of cheap or free labour, but they also have to pay their schools the full course fee while on the internship programme, even though they learn nothing from the school during that time.

Due to the large number of students looking for internship arrangements and the short supply of good, responsible companies that are willing to guide the interns, a substantial number of these students end up getting assigned to companies and doing work that is completely unrelated to the course they are pursuing.

Sometimes, the school lecturers do not even bother to make site visits to check on the students to find out how they are doing.

Hence, the interns are shortchanged not only by the company to which they are attached, but also by their own school.

To improve the situation and to ensure that the quality of the internship programme is not compromised, internships should not be a mandatory module but an optional one reserved for good students who show potential.

The number of openings will depend on the number of internship positions made available from companies that have had good feedback from previous interns.

Wong Boon Hong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2017, with the headline 'Ensure interns are not shortchanged'. Print Edition | Subscribe