Saturday, June 9, 2007

From Training to Internships

As various members of the World of Work (WOW) 2007 team make the transition from the classroom to the workplace, they share their interview experiences on their blogs. Recently Beauty Katongo ( blogged about her first day at work at Ochre Media. Next week on Wednesday Susan Arthur ( will be starting her internship at Brunswick an advertising firm. Susan Mwangi ( and Maxwell Nyamajiwa ( also shared their interview experiences with us. Both Susan Mwangi and Maxwell warn that rejection is hard to deal with but one should keep a positive attitude, and regard each interview as a stepping stone towards further individual and professional development .
I value these blog posts on each member's experience, because it is a very valuable source of practical information for other members of the team. Earlier today during the mentoring workshop, Justine Dangor (Wits University) shared her experience of the mentor/mentee process. When she started her internship, her mentor was away. She had to find her own way until she returned. When she did return, she was not happy to have to be a mentor. It was more work for her. Needless to say this created some tensions. Justine however, was able to find a way to overcome this obstacle. She says it was a very valuable learning curve for her.
This underscores for me the point made, that there is no hard and fast rule to the mentoring process. It keeps evolving to fit the particular situation and professional aims and objectives of the mentee and also the host organisation. As one of the participants at the workshop said, the mentoring process is a beneficially symbiotic relationship between the mentor, mentee/intern and host organisation. The mentor gains further experience from the process, which in turn feeds back into the continued growth and development of the organisation.
Reading the blogs about my team members experiences raises some questions for me. What if a number of the organisations you are sent to for interviews, are not the sort of organisation(s) you see yourself fitting into career-wise? Is it more beneficial for you in the long term to accept whatever internship opportunity you are given, and then use it as a springboard to other more suitable opportunities? The later question is a re-occuring one. What if the person assigned to you as a mentor is not too happy with the responsibility, but unfortunately, he/she is the only option available? These are all the issues one has to deal with as an intern/mentee. I look forward to hearing how team members handle the different situations that they encounter in the workplace. I am pleased that Beauty got a warm welcome at Ochre Media, and would love to read about her mentor/mentee relationship as the process unfolds.


Valentin said...

Dear Ijeoma, a very insightful post.
These kinds of questions, as you mention, also pass through my mind constantly as I am heading towards an internship.
However, I believe that even we (the people from the group) do not make the right choice with taking up an internship, it will be still useful for us in one way or another (in the long term).
We can build up a certain set of skills out of any job or experience. It won't be a waste of time.
Every job could be influential on your work performance, employablity and skills development in the long run!

Ijeoma Uche-Okeke said...

I think sometimes we may have to accept what is available and then work towards what we want. At this stage it is not absolutely necessary to be too selective. Life itself is a learning process, it is continous. We musn't put ourselves in boxes that limit our chances of manouvering.