Internship Practices Shaping Careers of Fresh Graduates

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Internship Practices Shaping Careers of Fresh Graduates

Management colleges and business institutions in Nepal are focusing on internship programmes to prepare fresh graduates for the job market.
At a time when the number of students graduating in business and management is increasing along with the increasing business prospects, an academic internship has emerged as a crucial platform for bridging the gap between business education and the real business world.
Realising this, different universities of the country have included an internship in higher degree programmes as a part of the curriculum. As a practical education, an internship helps in making the students ready for the job market through direct exposure to the business world before they graduate.
Many colleges assert that interns these days are attracted to multiple sectors, especially startup business, information technology (IT), marketing and the manufacturing sector. Teachers say that due to a paradigm shift in the market scenario, interns are diverting from the banking, financial and insurance sectors to multiple business areas.
Different prominent management colleges and leading business/ corporate houses in the country have been carrying out the internship programmes in a systematic manner. Some of them have even formed separate units such as placement cells and incubation centres to effectively implement the concept of internships.
KCM’s Periodical Internship 
Kathmandu College of Management (KCM) in partnership with Siam University of Bangkok, has made internships mandatory for its bachelor’s degree programmes- BBA in Finance and Banking and BBA in Marketing.
According to Sita Ram Dhakal, senior faculty of finance and banking at KCM, the students are required to go through an internship of 10 months periodically in their four years bachelor’s degree programmes. During the first two years, they practice non-credit internship for two months (June and July) in Nepal. The remaining six months internship with three credits is carried out at corporate houses of different countries including Nepal, Bangkok, China, England, and Hong Kong. In the third year, they make preparations for their international internship such as preparing documentation, applying for visas, networking with foreign corporate houses etc.
Dhakal says that the first year internship aims to make the students understand the business culture, process and learning possibilities. The second-year internship helps them to learn specific knowledge of their core subjects. The final internship allows them to apply their learnings effectively in the corporate sector.
Dhakal shares that more than 600 KCM students have completed their internships at different organisations so far. “We have collaborated with around 125 business organisations for internships in the country. We set up internships of international level on the basis of the terms of reference (ToR) in the corporate houses.”
SOMTU Internship
School of Management, Tribhuvan University (SOMTU), has also made internship mandatory for all its four master’s degree programmes-General MBA, MBA in Finance & Control, MBA-Global Leadership Management (GLM) and MBA-IT- with three credits. SOMTU students are required to go for an internship in the third semester of their MBAs. Among these, the internship of MBA-GLM includes four global camps, says Mahananda Chalise, professor and director at SOMTU. He adds that the three camps are held in Nepal while the remaining one is held in South Korea in an internship model. For this, the college has collaborated with Handong Global University of South Korea.
“We run our internship programmes only when the students don’t have to attend their classes at the college. We never run classes when the students are engaged in internships in order to make them concentrate on their real experimental learning,” says Chalise.
SOMTU has signed a memorandum of understanding with around 20 banks of the country including Nepal SBI Bank, Nabil Bank, Janata Bank, Nepal Investment Bank etc. for internships in the banking sector, according to Chalise.
In the manufacturing sector, it has collaborated with Chaudhary Group, Dugar Group etc. while it has partnered with e-sewa, Daraz for online services. It has also joined hands with startups and social entrepreneurs for internship of MBA-GLM. 
KUSOM's jobs and Intership Fair(KJIF) has become a prime platform for employers to provide graduates with intership and jobs opportunitires. A Handout photo of KJIF 2018. 

KUSOM’s Semester-Break Internship 

Kathmandu University, School of Management (KUSOM) has been running mandatory internships for its MBA programme since1993 and the BBA programme since 2010. Yearly, the college takes in around 35 students for the MBA course and 120 students for BBA. “It is challenging to run an internship for BBA students at once due to the larger number of students enrolled in each batch. However, the challenge is tackled easily as many corporate houses themselves approach us for internships,” shares Roshee Lamichhane Bhusal, lecturer and placement-in-charge at KUSOM.
According to her, the college runs an internship during the sixth-semester break for BBA so that it won’t disturb the regular classes. There are two credits for BBA internships of six to eight weeks. MBA internship is of non-credit nature and is conducted for 10 to 14 weeks in the last semester.
The college has collaborated with more than 50 companies in the country for internships, says Bhusal. 
Strengthening Internship Practices    
In the early days, there would be many complaints that the internship programmes were limited in scope, mostly to the clerical departments. Addressing this problem, KUSOM has linked its MBA internship with the research-oriented projects of the companies. For this, the college itself deals with the companies to allow their students to conduct the projects, which is obviously useful for the companies as well.
Likewise, KCM is also adopting periodical monitoring/ supervision systems effectively. The college monitors the performances of interns by visiting their workplaces. 
SOMTU emphasises on redefining the term ‘internship’ with time by reviewing the internship trends, approaches, ToR, guidelines and processes by all in the management education sector.
Generally, all the interns approach their respective organisations at their own initiatives. Even then, colleges like KUSOM and KCM are helping the interns to link up with organisations. Through job fairs and placement cells, KUSOM is helping students to directly contact the representatives of different business houses for an internship. It also has two incubation centres allowing the students to go for an internship there as well. 
Likewise, business houses are also assisting the interns giving orientations about their work before they start their jobs.
Internships Opening Doors to Careers
Nandip Pant, an MBA-Finance student of KUSOM, is among the outstanding interns who succeeded in turning their internship into a doorway to their careers. Pant is today the Finance Manager at Unilever Nepal, one of the renowned multinational companies in the country.
Out of 35 MBA students, Pant was selected by Unilever Nepal during the KUSOM Job and Internship Fair in 2017 for an internship. “During the internship, I was assigned a marketing project for the company. For the college, I was supposed to analyse the project financially to submit a financial report,” Pant reminisces. He took the two different scenarios as an opportunity to learn new things. He conducted research on market penetration in Dhaulagiri zone for three months. “It made it easy for me to identify the scope, financial viability and conduct financial assessment even in the non-financial sector which is actually needed in Nepal.”
By dint of hard work, Pant succeeded in meeting all key performance indicators provided by the company. He finally got recruited among six interns after successful completion of his internship. He was offered a job in the same position he had studied for.
Business Sectors Helping Academic Interns
Besides educational institutions and students, business organisations are also indispensable parts of the internship programmes. Business houses of different sectors are also playing an equally vital role to welcome the interns to the job market. Many business houses in the country are receiving interns mostly from the colleges of the Kathmandu Valley.
Vishal Group has been offering internship platforms in its multiple business segments for the past many years.  According to the General Manager of the company, Bhuban Raj Joshi, mostly management students approach the company for an internship in human resource and account departments. 
Joshi mentions that 50 students from different colleges completed their internships at the company in 2018. Among them, five interns were recruited by the company.“We assign them in the sectors they want to do their internships, according to their courses,” says Joshi.
Sipradi Trading Pvt Ltd is also taking interns to welcome the graduates in the automobile sector for a decade. According to the company’s Deputy HR Manager, Palpasa Manandhar, though the company prioritises technical internship, it welcomes interns from the
management streams as well on a need basis. Manandhar says that the company provided an internship platform to around 51 students last year. According to her, the company assigns both technical and non-technical projects to the interns instead of internal work and front desk jobs based on their interest and academic background. “We view interns as prospective employees of our company,” shares Manandhar. Soaltee Hotel has been attracting interns from hotel management (HM) students ever since HM colleges started internship programmes in Nepal. According to Anjana Khadka, manager, learning about the development of the hotel, a lot of interns reach out to the hotel for food production in the kitchen department rather than housekeeping.
“Around 200 students a year undertake internships at Soaltee Hotel,” says Khadka, adding, “Sometimes we hire 80 and sometimes upto 500 too according to our requirement.”
According to Khadka, it has signed partnership deals with two HM colleges- Institute of International Management Science (IIMS), Global Academy of Tourism, and Education (GATE) as InterContinental Hotel Group Academics for the programme. 
Mahalaxmi Bikas Bank has been receiving interns for its many branches in the country. According to the bank’s CEO Krishna Raj Lamichhane, in the banking sector, the interns are firstly assigned in clerical, customer service or marketing departments as bachelor degree internship is the first phase to learn basic banking work practically. MBA interns are assigned to conduct various surveys like customer or employee satisfaction surveys for the bank. The bank takes only two interns in its each branch for two to three months, says Lamichhane. He further states that the interns are paid for their transportation. 
“The banking sector does not give the interns access to the core banking system (CBS) for security reasons. However, we teach them about the system and its operation,” says Lamichhane.
Areas to Improve
According to Vishal Group, many small organisations are emerging in the country, which are also to be taken as an opportunity for internships instead of focusing only on big organisations. KUSOM officials share that the trend of conducting an internship at once by many colleges towards the end of the curriculum should be improved as corporate houses are getting more interns at once than the requirement.
Both business houses and educational institutions say that the internship trend can be strengthened making the internship process regarding documentation, monitoring, feedback, evaluation from the academic sector etc. more formal. They also share that all companies need to have structured patterns or systems for internships.

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