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Wahid is the Arabic way of saying “one” and is often used in urban Arab culture to single out something or someone.
The first step towards one career in the corporate world and one of the many ways or often the only way through which an aspiring individual embarks on a professional career.
Internships are also known as apprenticeship in many countries where an individual is taken under the wing of an organization and trained to be employed by them after having completed a certain period under the guidance of senior mentors.
Wait a second, hold on, take a pause.
Did I just say employed?
You were probably reading this article and assumed along the way on how this piece of writing will elaborate on internships, the different kinds of internships and how they are beneficial to one’s career leading to employment.
Well times have changed, turns out that the internship experience is often quite contrary to the established belief. This isn’t an informational article. But rather the story of an experience. The best learning is gained via experience.
In this age of rapid advancement, evolving technologies and ever increasing competition, companies are more and more focused towards generating profits and it’s often a race of the survival of the fittest in the corporate world.
While this race has proven to be beneficial for the capitalistic system that prevails in our world, it often comes at the cost of exploitation of the most important resource.
The human resource
Companies have a tendency of having a cold behavior in the achievement of their goals and are ruthless in executing decisions when it comes to hiring and firing. A lot of people get caught up in these decisions and are affected in many profound ways.
From among these people is our helpless intern, who happens to be a victim of the jaws of the corporate world. Our aspiring and confident individual who wishes to enter the corporate jungle through an internship, unaware of the dangers lurking around, makes a bold decision to kick start his career by approaching a company for an internship.
Established and well-reputed companies will hire the individual as an intern and mentor him to become a part of the organization but the organizations who do not have a value system and happen to be a part of Jungle Corporatia will play a game of dice with him.
Sadly this game of dice often ends up with brutal exploitation of the individual.
In other words – a corporate rape takes place.
The following is one of the many accounts of how interns are abused by the predators of the job world.
Dave is a confident, hardworking and passionate individual. He is a qualified developer, ambitious to take on the world and dedicated to making the best use of his knowledge and skill acquired through a rigorous program of 4 years.
Dave is a fresh graduate who doesn’t have any internship experience under his belt unlike his class mates who interned while they were still in college. Dave can’t help but feel inadequate without this experience and makes it a priority to find an internship that would enable him to be employed at an organization. His search for an internship takes a long period of time until he finally secures one through a reference of a good friend.
The organization that agrees to have Dave as an intern in their firm happens to be a start up company known as Smartsoft working on product development.
Like many startups, Smartsoft doesn’t have any OPAs, policies and standard procedures defined. As a result, Dave gets under taken by the manager at Smartsoft without any formal hiring procedure.
The manager offers Dave an unpaid internship which may or may not lead to employment at the firm depending on his performance. Dave’s optimism and positive outlook on life makes him focus on the brighter aspect of this ordeal that he will gain experience and the possibility that he might gain employment at Smartsoft.
With profound belief, he starts his first day as an intern. He familiarizes himself with the work and the people in his office. His manager assigns him tasks daily and evaluates his performance and Dave doesn’t disappoint.
He delivers each task with resounding commitment, utilizing the best of his skill and knowledge. His manager notices his accomplishments and promises him employment at Smartsoft. Dave becomes pleased that things are finally working out and becomes increasingly committed to his work.
His passion and zeal compels him to put in extra hours and sacrifice weekends. Months pass and Dave continues working relentlessly to achieve his goal of employment. However, despite his efforts, there is no progress about the issue of his employment at the firm.
Dave, trying not to be disheartened, confronts his manager and inquires about his employment. The manager gives usual management styled responses saying that he has spoken to the management, “let’s see what they decide”.
Day of Deliverance
Dave becomes frustrated that his work isn’t gaining any recognition from upper management and the fact that they are delaying his employment. He falls into a melancholic state and feels helplessly trapped.
To add to this, he is assigned more work and harder assignments with no financial compensation. Perplexed, he ponders that even though he is working hard and getting everything right why isn’t he being employed?
Nevertheless the frustration and the confusion doesn’t hinder him from working because he loved the work that he did.
This continues until one Sunday morning where Dave decided to go to work voluntarily.
The office on that day only had a few folks working on some assignments and a couple of bosses in house. The Director of Engineering was one of those bosses who was present on that day.
Goliath was second in command to the CTO and was spearheading product development. In other words, no decision took place without his approval particularly on the development side.
Goliath was a veteran in engineering technology, having accomplished various engineering projects and having big names under his belt, he walked with a sense of pride and arrogance.
He had a reputation in being ruthless with his subordinates and didn’t hesitate in berating them. He had an old haggardly look and walked with a slight hunch. Dave was working quietly on his assignment and engulfed in his train of thought; when suddenly he is interrupted by Goliath, who asks him to demonstrate the work he has done so far in his internship.
Dave is enthralled and excited that he finally got an opportunity to show his work and that too on a weekend. Empowered with a sense of enthusiasm, he takes a deep breath and begins explaining his work.
Goliath listens attentively with a raised eye brow and goes on to scrutinise his work. Leaning forward from his chair while sitting next to Dave, he looks at the work being displayed on the LED screen. Dave takes a gulp and feels sweat trickle down from his forehead.
Goliath’s complexion changes to a ruddy red and his pupils dilate as he is checking the work. He is clearly displeased from the work and puts his palms on his forehead, shaking his head in disapproval.
He asks Dave a couple of in-depth questions related to his work, Dave answers them incorrectly because he doesn’t have a detailed understanding since he was entirely focused on task completion and didn’t bother with optimization.
The feared Director, goes into a wild frenzy and lashes out on Dave.
He insults and degrades him and his work and then moves to inquire with an expression that is in between quizzical and sheer annoyance about a certain programming concept which leaves Dave dumbstruck.
The painful torment ends with Goliath instructing Dave to modify his work and advises him to brush up on his knowledge.
The following Monday happened to be very decisive in Dave’s internship as Smartsoft had finally hired an HR manager who decided to take up the issue of Dave’s employment with the Chairman of the Board.
The Chairman approved Dave’s employment on the condition Goliath approves it. As luck would have it, the judgmental Director rejected Dave’s status to be upgraded to that of an employee.
Dave learns of this decision through his manager which leaves him in a shock.
All this after he had achieved the work assigned and coordinated with his manager on every minor or major issue. He was confident that he would attain employment at the firm considering the feedback from his manager.
Perhaps what infuriated him the most was the gut wrenching feeling of exploitation he had growing inside him since day one.
He had completed the work required by the organization but it followed that an intern does not have the skill or knowledge to produce professional work. On the contrary it is a period where the individual’s ability and eagerness to learn is evaluated.
Learning from Dave’s account we can deem how some corporate organisations are ruthless in achievement of their goals and the sheer insensitivity they exhibit to one’s effort. It is understandable that a profit driven and result oriented approach is often the only way to survive in the market, however, expectations should match experience and financial compensation.
Dave’s narration teaches us to be well aware of such firms and in the long run support campaigners that are working towards the rights of employees in the industry. Interns deserve to be taught the work they are expected to take part in, rather than deeming them free expendable resource as is the case in most places.