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You already have the answer to the puzzle. All companies need to do is to deliberately put in place an internship policy that provides unique opportunities for learning outside of academic settings. In so doing, interns will be exposed to real life work environments that will help them learn goal-specific skills required for success in their fields of study. Put in other words, the internship program should be deliberately designed to provide interns with a meaningful learning experience applicable to their fields of study. This requires having structured assignments coupled with appropriate supervision, mentorship, evaluation, and feedback mechanisms. To that effect, learning objectives will be developed for each. It is beneficial to have clear job duties that identify the learning objectives or a defined project scope that demonstrates how the learning objectives for each individual will be met.

Let me draw attention to a serious transgression that some companies commit in the name of having interns. They engage interns to cover up for employees. Say for example, perhaps a vacancy arises in the company or there happens to be an overload of work in a particular department. Instead of hiring staff to do the work, some engage ‘interns’, and pay them an allowance which may even be below the minimum wage in order to ‘save money’. This is cleverly disguising casualisation as internship which is a subtle form of exploitation of the interns. Unfortunately, this is a common practice in Zambia. Many so-called internship programmes are in fact casualisation programmes. This is in total contravention of the Ubuntu spirit.

In some instances, some companies decide to hire graduates for a specified period of time and decide to call them ‘interns’ and yet the company does not have an internship policy for this. As a result, the so-called interns have no proper framework to help them develop and grow in their fields of study. This is not an internship programme because the objectives are seldom to help graduates get exposed to the real workplace.

What characteristics should an internship programme that is driven by the Ubuntu philosophy have? In the features outlined below, the use of the word ‘MUST’ is deliberate for the sake of emphasis and for the avoidance of doubt.