Shadhin just graduated from a private university, having majored in Marketing. He joined one of the leading tobacco companies for his three-month long internship program. “I was really excited when my application was accepted and I got to start my internship in such a renowned organisation, because I knew the competition was cut throat,” says the 23-year-old graduate. He describes how it’s gotten more and more difficult for students to get an internship in a good organisation. He tells us that lobbying and nepotism have become prevalent in many companies, not only when it comes to getting a job but also in terms of landing an internship. “My father had to pull many strings for me to get accepted there,” he says.
Arifa, 25, submitted her internship report a few months ago and registered for her forthcoming convocation ceremony. However, she’s still working for the bank where she completed her unpaid internship that too as an intern. “My internship program was further extended for another three months, based on my performance,” she says. She clarifies her roles in the bank as an intern: “I usually have my plate full on a daily basis. But I mostly carry out a lot of menial tasks. Photocopying, data entry, scanning and storing documents, among other chores are part of my daily routine here.” She tells us how she would like to learn more about banking and processing financial documents, as a Finance and Accounting major, but she is stuck with the roles she does not enjoy doing. “However, I will stick to this job, until I have found something better,” she says.
Internships are quintessentially developed to benefit the students, however, it’s quite the opposite in most cases
Disgruntled intern Tashfiq tells us he’s been counting the days until his internship ends. “It’s already been two months that I’ve been an intern at this ad agency. I expected to learn a lot more but I’m stuck here writing emails for my boss, getting him coffee or picking up his kids from school—in other words, I am working as his unofficial personal assistant,” he tells us.
A real-estate entrepreneur thinks paid or unpaid, internship programs are something that everyone can benefit from. “We’ve recently started to hire interns, and currently have about four of them working for us. They are all unpaid but this program allows them to learn about the real-estate industry hands-on and we could use a few interns that we don’t have to pay either—it serves everyone’s purpose. The interns are often sent out to do surveys and other forms of legwork; I’m sure the experience will come in handy for them in the years to come.”
Internship is a relatively new idea in Bangladesh for university graduates. The program is ideally designed to offer graduating students an opportunity to gain work experience in a corporate environment, instead of writing a thesis as the final project of the degree. Students are required to write an internship report based on the experience they garner from this program. However, whether paid or unpaid, it’s becoming a common practice to exploit students through this program. They hardly get any hands-on training, and often have to persuade employers to get their applications approved. Internships are quintessentially developed to benefit the students, more than the corporations they are landing an internship in, however, it’s quite the opposite in most cases.