Class learning vs internships

Internships vs class tuition is another issue I come up against.

Are 4 internships during a 4 year course too many or should university only be for class learning? I know students who choose X uni because they can do internships at Y and Z companies and probably get a job there but students at traditional unis seem to do a lot more studying. So, do they learn more or is work placement training better and if so why do it at uni, wouldn’t a training programme be the solution?

If the role of university is to prepare students for work aren’t they better doing internships instead of classes? Or are academic courses actually helping them learn subjects and then they can apply them later on?

Feedback from companies at my last uni was basically:

  1. These kids just sit and wait to be told what to do.
  2. They don’t have the rights social skills to be able to interact with the team.
  3. They don’t know how to work and they don’t want to.
  4. They think it’s a holiday job.

With this kind of feedback it’s tempting to drop internships altogether or perhaps have an ‘internship preparation’ course.

On the other side, when students have come back from a long internship they are more mature and just can’t wait to graduate.

So, should uni be for internships or classes or even both?

Here is some info about doing internships from HEC, a famous French business school:

The Internship

Internships are part of the curriculum. They are a minimum of six weeks and may reach 12 months.

Students must accept a minimum number of weeks:
– 40 weeks including 20 abroad for the first-year (contest prep classes)
– 30 weeks including 10 abroad for admission in second year (as on competition).

To fulfill their internship, over 95% of the Grande Ecole students choose to pursue a gap year between their second and third year, the year can be broken up to 3 courses in 3 different companies. You can recruit interns at any time of the year, however, the majority of courses start in July and January.
Courses 6 to 12 weeks are also possible at the end of the first and second year and sometime in the third year, depending on the major chosen.

The 1st year students may also complete a period of six weeks from early January to mid February.

For major Contractors, Fiscal Strategy & International Legal and Public Management of the third year internship is required.

Humanitarian Missions

As part of their obligation internship abroad, students can conduct a humanitarian mission on the ground which must include a “management” in order to practice the teachings of the school. They realize these projects in various organizations like Doctors Without Borders, the Red Cross … but also to humanitarian organizations HEC students on campus.
Beyond a period of six weeks, these missions can be validated as internships.

The International Volunteer or Directors (LIFE or VIA)

The International Volunteer work is a mission lasting 6 to 24 months, full time. All or part of the mission is carried out abroad. The LIFE is designed for students (for 12 months) and young graduates.


2 thoughts on “Class learning vs internships

  1. In the days of steam radio academic students went to university, became teachers, civil servants and the like, others went to the local poly, studied a sandwich course and designed things or built things, others went to art college and did colouring in and made squidillions from their efforts. Now everyone goes to a university and sandwiches have become internships, but getting the right internship (daddy pulling strings helps) and then impressing the people you work for overrides the need for academic excellence.

    • Sounds very true.I know a lot of students who chose their uni just for the companies they could work with and they all probably got FT jobs. In that case the unis are almost a preparatory school for those companies. I saw a similar thing with some CELTA schools. What I do wonder though is that if these companies are working so closely with the unis and probably give donations then whet do they ask for in return? But is that a bad thing? I don’t think it is and then the unis should work more with those companies to bridge the academic/practical divide.

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