The reason why internships are not a waste of time


Yesterday, while I was scrolling down my timeline on Twitter, I saw a tweet about filling a survey on the internship culture in Nigeria. As I was filling the survey, I had a flashback to the period when I was an intern and I posted a few tweets about it. To my surprise, the tweets sparked a lot of interest. I don’t think my TL has ever had that much buzz since I joined Twitter. Anyway, I was asked to elaborate more on my experience and that is what this post is all about.

It was November 2011. I had just returned to Nigeria abruptly without any clue as to what I wanted to do. The logical thing was to apply for a job but where was I to begin? I hadn’t gone to Law School here so I couldn’t apply for legal jobs and I didn’t finish my Finance degree so I didn’t possess the adequate qualifications for that field either. A family friend suggested that I should serve as an intern and see where that takes me.  Since I was sending out applications late November, I was most likely going to resume at whatever job I got in January. Then I was also planning to register for the NYSC 2012 batch A programme so I only had two months to work. What did I have to lose?

With the help of my family friend, I secured an interview with a Human Resources consulting company. The interview was tough. The Supervisory Consultant (SC) did not see what I could learn in two months and what value I could add. Somehow, I got the job even though I knew he wasn’t completely convinced. I was to start in January as I expected and my monthly salary was going to be N20,000 (which I later got to realise was quite generous). My game plan was simple; learn as much as I can in the first two weeks and make myself indispensable. I spent the first two weeks doing just that; learning what HR consulting was all about. My tasks then were very boring and monotonous. I had to update the database with names of candidates who had applied for jobs at the firm. If you know me, you know how much I hate monotonous tasks. But I did it with grace. I even found a more efficient way of organizing the database.

As the weeks went by, I asked a lot of questions and buried myself in previous proposals and training materials the firm had developed. One day the Managing Partner (MP)) walked into the office. He had an idea and he needed someone to write a proposal for it urgently. All the other consultants were busy so he turned to me and said “You, write me a proposal now”. He went ahead to tell me what should be in the proposal and when he expected me to revert. I got to work immediately. I finished the proposal and showed it to the SC who made a few corrections and sent it to the MP. Only privileged people had direct access to the MP. I hadn’t reached this status yet. To my surprise my proposal as adopted and used for the marketing brochure of the  new programme the MP wanted to launch.

The SC was impressed. I graduated from updating the database and making photocopies (I forgot to add that before). Anyway, my new elevated tasks included reviewing candidate applications, writing clients reports on final shortlists and of course writing proposals. I became very good at my tasks. As a result of my curiosity I ended up going out for business pitches with some of the consultants. It was fun. I knew I had become invaluable when I informed the SC that I was leaving and he said “Doyin, what will I do without you?” He gave me an emotional speech about how much value I added to his department. This was the man who few months earlier didn’t believe I had anything to offer in the short time I was to spend with them. Oh I forgot to add that I ended up not going for NYSC as planned so I interned for about four months. I moved on to my second internship from here.

I don’t want this post to be too long so I will put up part two of this story tomorrow. I hope you were able to gain something useful from this first part.


Photo Credit – Time4thinkers


2 Replies to “The reason why internships are not a waste of time”

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