Discovering Gems In Interns

As I am writing this article, there are hundreds of thousands students in Malaysia that will be completing their university final year examination this year. These undergraduates will then disperse around the country to look for internship. Some will make to the top companies, while some to small and medium ones. Some will probably decide to set own venture rather than playing the waiting game. I haven’t been an intern in any company simply because I chose the road less travelled. So I don’t how it really feels to be an intern. Nonetheless, I have seen and talked to many of them throughout my career. Here are my thoughts.


Intern is very energetic because they simply don’t know what they’re getting into. This applies to all intern in small, medium or large companies. A big chunk of intern thought they will be able to labour what they learn in the university straight into workplace. Little that they know the perception of incumbent managers they report to about them. This is true especially for Gen-Y intern. Some of you are probably smiling right now. 😉


Majority of intern conveyed that they stumble into roadblock at workplace throughout internship. They said they were frustrated for not being given any or only minutiae opportunity to show what they can do. Intern also complain that they were asked not to touch anything fear of the thing they touch ruins the entire project. Some interns were asked to just sit at the workstation or cubicle reading endless work procedures and safety manuals.  At first I was shocked to learn this from the interns, however as I talk to more of them their stories are almost the same. They were a few that I spoke to are happy because they were assigned to a more responsible managers. Yeah, the managers that think and feel.  

More and more young people are seeking internship to gain new experience
More and more young people are seeking internship to gain new experience


I later asked several HR directors about this phenomenon and many agreed that organizations sometimes are not ready to ‘entertain’ intern. The managers with their heavy workload feel that spending the same amount of time with the intern is wasteful. The primary reason why is because intern has too many questions to ask. Then what’s the reason of taking interns if the organization is not ready?


It is about almost-free labour that interns provide. Most interns are excited with going to workplace, and some have to do internship as part of their course completion procedure. On top of that they get some pocket money during the internship. The amount of allowance varies. Organization uses these interns to do administrative work and helping around. Since intern these days are technology savvy and tertiary educated, they can be handy with computers and lifting boxes. Unfortunately most interns will not get hired after internship. Poor interns. No doubt in some organizations they will get hired as permanent staffs, however among themselves they will be at each other’s throat just to get a placement. Here I see opportunity for job placement companies.


This opportunity lies in trying to provide a better matching of interns with organizations. Why company hires interns for the sake of doing it? Why not hire someone that you think could absorb after internship period? With interns high energy, smartness and hunger of new work experience coupled with the organization thirst of getting dependable and resourceful staffs, a matching in heaven can create new jobs and reduce some ulcers for both of them.

Job placement companies must be creative to provide extra services that interns can use for them to express themselves. While there are already various social media channels that intern can use like Facebook and YouTube to sell themselves, nothing beats personalized service by the job placement company. The same idea and platform can be used but in structured manner.


Take for example an intern that is looking for an internship attending an interview with a job/intern placement company. The structured interview with the intern is being recorded, later the intern is given a space and time to express themselves using a video or picture collage. Some interns already making video resume however the format of presentation is still lack professional look and feel. This is where the job placement company can help with their professional dash plus proper structure. You know just like you go to modelling company where the new model needs to pay around RM 5,000 to build their profile? Yes, exactly like that.


In the same interview, the interns will be given psychometric test and the results will be show to them immediately. Let the intern describe themselves from the psychometric results. From here we will be able to assess and know the characteristics, communication and behaviour of that interns. To make it more interesting, the intern can bring any of their pet project video or hobbies to share in that recording. All these activities later compiled and uploaded to YouTube under the job placement account. When the sales person of this job placement company goes out to offer their services, they can easily show and invite the client to subscribe to see streams of interns. Well, this can be applied to other job level as well where they see fit.


The main idea is for the job placement company to be creative in the suffocating market and to uncover hidden potentials in human being especially interns. I realize that intern with pleasant experience in the organization is likely to become better worker compare to interns with less-interesting experience. Besides a study shown that staffs with intern experience is likely to stick around than those who do not. I sincerely feel that we should let the streams of intern flow into our organization because they bring new energy and knowledge into already close-minded organizations.


We should not let interns afraid of getting an internship for some less-interesting experience they hear or go through because we need to convince them that anything that gives people an opportunity to gain experience is a good thing. We should help the interns discover the gems in themselves.


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