Internships as an Employability Development Model

The blog explores internships as a model for employability development and how internships can transform the future workforce.
9th May, 2024

Internship—a word that every student has heard of and struggled to find! Everyone from college professors to seniors must’ve advised you to intern at least once. Have you ever wondered why everyone gives so much importance to internships? 

Let’s hear from two of our students and understand how internships helped them;

“….In 2015, I joined the accounts section of Vivanta by Taj as an intern. While I learned a lot, I also realized I was more interested in the other side, food and beverages or event planning. I expressed this to my mentor, and we made it happen. My internship continued, but it was much more to my liking…,” says Shubhi, who now owns an event management company.  

Vidhisha working in the bakery of Taj Vivanta

“…I joined the kitchen at Vivanta by Taj. However, nearing the end of my internship tenure, I developed a rapport with the chefs and was offered to work in their confectionery section. I took it up with all my heart….,” says Vidhisha, who now runs a cloud bakery chain in Goa, Bangalore, and Lucknow. 

These two are among the hundreds of internships that Medha has facilitated, propelling the career paths of aspiring youth. While Vidisha and Shubhi are strong-headed professionals, it could’ve taken them longer to find their feet had it not been for their internships. The experience allowed them to make better-informed career decisions, helping them fill the gaps in their education-to-employment journey. 

Students working and learning during an internship

This blog aims to help you understand how to use an internship as a model for employability development. Read ahead to discover why scaling internships in the 21st century is essential and how they can shape the future workforce. 

Why Intern?  

Navigating from education to employment involves more than just securing a job; it’s about building core skills, gaining enriching experiences, and fostering the right attitudes for long-term success. Transitioning into professional life post-college requires adjustment, and internships can ease this process. They offer practical knowledge related to a student’s field of study, helping them develop professional skills, make industry connections, and bridge the gap between classroom learning and industry needs. 

student interning at Reliance Trends

The movie The Intern exemplifies the impact of internships. It follows the story of Ben (played by Robert De Niro), a senior citizen interning at a fashion e-commerce company. Despite the age gap, Ben and the company’s founder learn from each other, developing a meaningful working relationship that changes their lives. Ben learned so much from an internship in his senior years; now, imagine how greatly the right internship will influence a young mind! An internship at the right age and time can catalyze your career’s growth.

At Medha, out of 1035 students who completed an internship, 60% reported applying 21st-century skills, while over 45% applied negotiation, active listening, and leadership skills. That tells us how internships help one engage in job-relevant activities, culture, and etiquette, enhancing their chances of employability.** Internship experience has also been linked to a 20% higher placement rate than those who did not intern. 

graph representing placement rates after internship

Additionally, female polytechnic students who intern and stay in the job market for four years report significantly higher average salaries, indicating the long-term impact of internships on employability and income-generation ability.  

Different Players for an Effective Internship

Academic institutions serve as the foundation, providing theoretical knowledge and practical skills that form the basis of the internship experience. They also facilitate the initial connection between students and host organizations, ensuring a suitable match for both parties.

an internship interview

Host organizations, like Taj in Shubhi and Vidhisha’s case, play a pivotal role in shaping the internship experience. They provide a real-world environment for students to apply their learning, offering hands-on experience and exposure to industry practices. Proactive engagement with the HR team and facilitating partners ensures that the internship aligns with the student’s learning objectives and provides a meaningful experience. In Medha’s experience, interns reported that the clarity of role and expectation of deliverables led to a 22% increase in satisfaction from their internship experiences*.

Lastly, interns themselves play an active role in the success of their internship. They bring enthusiasm, a willingness to learn, and a fresh perspective to the host organization. By actively engaging with their mentors and seeking guidance, interns can navigate the challenges of the internship and make the most of the opportunity. The success of an internship hinges on the collaboration and commitment of all stakeholders. Therefore, academic institutions, host organizations, mentors, and interns must work together to ensure a rewarding and impactful experience.

Improving Internship Accessibility in the Education and Employment Ecosystem

Employers and organizations must cultivate an ecosystem that fosters better and more structured internships. One can not ignore the role of mentoring and counseling at any stage of an internship. Having a dedicated mentor or manager from the host organization who provides guidance and support throughout the internship tenure is crucial for navigating daily personal and project-related challenges. Notably, Medha’s observations reveal that 7% more students reported higher satisfaction with learning outcomes when placed under a mentor, underscoring the significant impact of mentorship on internship experiences.

intern getting mentored by the trainer

Besides providing the right mentoring and guidance, employers should evolve and develop engaging internship models in their structure, mode, or approach. Modern-day innovative platforms like Internshala are key in improving internship accessibility by promoting remote and offline internship opportunities. 

Even the social sector is now adapting to the internship culture. Leading NGOs like Make a Difference have developed super exciting and specific roles like Fundraising Fellow and Mentorship Fellow to attract more interns and volunteers. Such exciting roles present volunteerships and internships differently and help students and freshers dive into the nitty-gritty of the role of their choice. Additionally, fellowships hosted by the UN, various other NGOs, Government departments, and International and Bilateral organizations are some of the evolved forms of internships that provide valuable work experience across several fields.   

NEP and the Future of Internships 

The National Education Policy (2020) insists on the importance of internships at the undergraduate level, influencing the UGC to mandate 60-120 hours of internships for 3-4 year undergraduate programs. Higher Education Institutions have additional reasons to promote internships as a ‘student support & progression’ indicator in the NAAC assessment mandated by UGC. They can also leverage this to build a robust industry-academia interface across sectors. 

The education system has made policy-based provisions for internships or, more generally, work-based learning opportunities. The academic institutions, industry, and NGOs active in the school-to-work space must ensure predefined outcomes for structuring internships, leading to higher placement rates. Our education and employment system, study, and entrepreneurship models need more internships and collaborative, participatory work approaches. 

What makes internships super significant today is the space they allow students to tinker, explore, and experiment before they tie themselves to a career, sector, or role. So, now that you know the importance of an internship, your time to find the perfect internship to boost your career growth starts now. 

Get set, INTERN! 


* The data comes from 1035 completed FY 22-23 internships, with candidates providing self-reported information.  

** The information is based on a sample of 3406 alumni who graduated in 2020, as per records, and participated in surveys that included both internship and placement-related questions.   

© 2024 Medha, all rights reserved.
© 2024 Medha, all rights reserved.