[CAMPUS COMMENTARY]Internships continue to grow in popularity

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[CAMPUS COMMENTARY]Internships continue to grow in popularity

Internship programs in large corporations are the part-time jobs that university students prefer the most these days. To meet the high demand among students seeking the chance to learn the ropes in a workplace, many companies are plastering interns-wanted advertisements all over campuses.
For job-seekers who want to beef up their resumes, an internship program is the just the right thing. Students gain good experience and a taste of life in a large corporation. They also have a chance to become a full-time employee there after graduation.
In Korea, an internship program for college students was introduced by LG Electronics in 1985. The trend decreased during the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s, but starting in 2004, companies once again offered internships and more are opening up rapidly. Now, most of the leading corporations are hiring interns regularly and other companies are following the trend. In a survey of 582 major enterprises conducted in January by Job Korea, an employment portal site, 43 percent of the Korean companies said they had internship programs for students.
The internship system can benefit both the companies and the students.
For a story about internship programs in May, I interviewed many students.
According to them, through internships, they were able to adapt easily to new circumstances. According to the recruiters from a large corporation, many companies are introducing the internship system because it helps the labor supply. Nevertheless, companies and students have expressed some discontent. Why is that?
While most large enterprises regularly run various internship programs, at smaller offices interns can end up merely used for chores such as photocopying papers or doing errands for the regular employees. It is common that neither the students nor the employer know clearly what responsibilities the interns have.
Companies have also expressed their discontent. The number of students who apply for internships just to pad their resumes is on the rise.
This means a lot of students cannot be relied on to do the work well and responsibly. Companies complain that it is hard to trust young students with work (that some may truly want) that requires more responsibility than copying papers.
It is necessary for students to have active and productive minds when they participate in internship programs.
For their part, companies ought not to treat interns as cheap laborers.
On the whole, however, good examples can be cited in which both students and employers were satisfied with their internship programs.
The in-house human resource development programs of international companies such as L’Oreal Korea and Procter and Gamble Korea (P&G) have a variety of systematic programs for interns.
Other companies should try harder to create programs helpful for both parties, and students should become more responsible for what they do.
This will be the way that internship programs bring in “win-win” results for all concerned.

* The writer is a reporter for The Argus, the English newspaper of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.

by Kim Jeong-eun
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