To let tertiary students understand more about the actual working environment in their fields of study and to enhance their social experience, internship programmes are provided by some departments such as communication, social work and engineering.
In the Social Work Department of the University of Hong Kong, the internship is a compulsory course in which students are required to work at social services organizations during the summer vacation of their second year of study.
Students can choose among various service fields, such as family, medical, rehabilitation, elderly, children and youth, delinquents or young offenders, school social work and some special settings.
Miss Petula Sik-ying Ho, field instructor in the Social Work and Social Administration Department of the University of Hong Kong, regarded the summer block placement programme as extremely successful.
She said, “The program enables students to understand more about the work of social workers.
“I think it is an opportunity for self-discovery and self-improvement for the students,” she said. “Although they may encounter fear and pressure, most of them are willing to try their best.”
She revealed that some students have become more critical and mature in handling problems after being exposed to the complexities of their jobs.
Miss Ho also finds the summer placement programme very meaningful, as it benefits both the students and the needy in the community.
“Although no pay is given for students working for the social service organizations, it does not decrease their enthusiasm in joining the programme,” Miss Ho said.
Since the Department has to hire field instructors to assist students in running certain programmes, high cost becomes a difficulty.
However, Miss Ho believes it is absolutely worth investing in this, as the experience is really useful and valuable to the students.
Journalism and communication is another field in which internship programmes are arranged for students.
Unlike that of the Social Work Department in the University of Hong Kong, the internship programme of the Journalism and Communication Department of The Chinese University of Hong Kong is run on an elective basis.
Said Dr. Clement So, assistant professor of the Department of Journalism and Communication: “The aim of internship programme is to provide students chances to put theories into practice.
“It helps students to gain first hand experience in the field of mass communication,” he added.
As students of the Department of Journalism and Communication are very keen to take the internship course, the Department finds it hard to allocate jobs to all interested students.
“There are some difficulties in allocating jobs according to students’ preferences,” Dr. So said. “Most of them prefer working in electronic media. Yet, the quotas in that field are rather limited.”
Mr. Andy Liu, a Year 2 student in the Social Work Diploma Course at the City University of Hong Kong, worked as a placement student in Sheng Kung Hui Diocesan Welfare Council during the summer holiday in his first year of study.
Working with children and youth, Mr. Liu regarded the internship as a test of applicability of knowledge being taught in class to the actual working situation.
Besides obtaining a clearer picture of his future occupation, Mr. Liu also realized the benefits of internship experience for job-seeking.
He said, “I think internship experience is an advantage for job-seeking, as most employers take working experiences into consideration.”
Miss Ester Chan, a Year 3 student in the Department of Communication at Baptist University, spent her previous summer vacation working for the News and Public Affairs Department of Asia Television Limited, or ATV. Her work included news reporting, wire translation and production of public affairs programmes. Miss Chan said, “I found my job challenging, as I have to work under tension and excitement.
“I still cannot forget how excited it was when our crew chased after a police car which carried a suspect in a murder case,” she added.
Miss Chan’s experience may show how internship programmes can influence students’ perspectives of their future plans.
“I have been dreaming of being a reporter, but I never realized my limitations and incompetence in this field until I received the internship training,” she said. “I know that I have to work much harder to upgrade myself to reach a competitive level.”
Besides internship programmes provided by various departments, some students also seek jobs related to their fields of study themselves in order to enhance working experience and training.
Mr. Pegasus Mak, a Year 4 student in the Department of Engineering at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, is now working for Motorola Semiconductors as an engineering professional trainee. He is deferring his study for one year in order to gain working experience.
He believes that internship training is a self-motivated learning process.
“In fact, I have been paying attention to the engineering market,” he said. “When I found that there are companies offering jobs for undergraduate students, I decided to apply for the post.”
In Mr. Mak’s opinion, learning in class can give students only general knowledge about their fields of study, whereas an internship experience can provide them access to professional knowledge.
“I understand more about the job of professional engineers and the systems of large-scale engineering companies,” he said. “I have not only broadened my horizons, but also learnt the skills of handling projects.
“An internship is certainly valuable experience, especially for extroverted students who are willing to face challenges and learn actively,” he added.
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