The Oxford Dictionary defines internship as “the position of a student or trainee who works in an organisation, sometimes without pay, in order to gain work experience or satisfy requirements for a qualification.” Clearly, the internship experience is essential to supplement the classroom learning of an individual.
During internship, students are mentored to pick up the finer nuances of the trade, in addition to professional skills on-site. That ‘real’ learning takes place beyond the confines of a classroom is a well-acknowledged fact. It provides the perfect opportunity for students to gain experience in the complex day-to-day operations of a business organisation, and a chance to hone and test their skills and technical knowledge while helping them develop interpersonal skills too. Internships also give students an opportunity to network within the organisation as well as attend seminars and events which help them make new connections that stands them in good stead in the future.
Given that technology touches every person’s life, the opportunities in the technology industry are enormous, giving students a chance to discover their professional passions through a variety of assignments.
For instance, as a machine learning and data science intern, an individual can build tools to collect new data signals in order to create insights through statistical analysis and machine learning techniques. For interns, to be able to grow their knowledge of the industry, and take that knowledge and build upon it, gives them an edge over their peers. Technology internship programmes are designed to give students hands-on experience across a diverse range of tools and programming languages, in the process enabling them to zero in on which aspect they really enjoy.
For example, at Microsoft, internships are hugely valued by existing employees like myself, as it gives us a chance to give back in the form of mentoring and offering unforgettable experiences to others. We value the fact that our interns bring a fresh perspective, adding a new dimension to the way we might be looking at a product or an opportunity. The Microsoft India Development Center offers a rich internship programme to young engineering, design and business students to give them hands-on work experience in the field they are interested in. Interns get the opportunity to work on real projects, showcase their skills and work on cutting-edge technology.
One of our programmes is called The Foundry. It gives college students an opportunity to work with industry leaders and peers, and develop essential skills and experience. The interns work on cloud technologies, and predictive analytic tools and cognitive services to develop apps for Microsoft.
Springboard is a platform to help women on a career break gradually transition back into a corporate career via a six-month internship. It provides us access to an untapped talent pool of women in technology, who are on a career break, to ramp up quickly, and helps diversify the middle management acting as a feeder into senior levels. While the percentage varies each year, we aim at hiring about 65% of our interns based on their performance during the internship.
If you are considering applying for an internship, the best thing you can show employers during interviews is the ‘real you’. Once in, to maximise your internship experience, you must talk to your colleagues, be curious and ask questions, and be a team player. Making internship work for you is the biggest favour you can do to yourself.
The author is director, HR, Microsoft India