Internships should benefit both students and firms

Internships should be beneficial not only to students, but also to the placement firms ("ITE students to gain from enhanced internships"; Thursday).

An agreement between the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and the internship firms on the prescribed tasks, as well as shared roles and responsibilities,is a step in the right direction towards achieving this objective.

Having worked in a major retail chain, I have found that our internship programmes succeeded because we adopted a highly structured approach.

During the six-month attachment, the interns were first assigned to the sales floor, where they learnt the diverse store operations as well as the needs of the buying public.

The trainees, having been equipped with a sound knowledge of the business, would then be transferred to other departments, such as merchandising, advertising and sales promotion, and human resource.

There were occasions when interns sat in during management-union meetings, which gave them an insight into the importance of good industrial relations.

Such a formally developed internship programme has reaped dividends as some of the trainees, on completion of their studies, joined our organisation as permanent staff.

Most importantly, a placement firm should not treat interns as temporary workers or cheap labour, but as people who can contribute.

In other words, there should a mutually beneficial relationship between both parties.

Jeffrey Law Lee Beng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2015, with the headline 'Internships should benefit both students and firms'. Subscribe