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09.06.2017 Opinion

Away From Ecobank And Barclays

Hamilton K. Blankson

For some tertiary institutions, second semester is over and guess what that means? ‘Long vac’ is here again. Many a student will start – or has indeed already started – flying ‘internship letters’ around to ‘big’ companies like some diligent postman. Why do our students want to intern at big organisations only? In essence, why should SMEs be considered?

First off, you stand a relatively high chance of being accepted when you apply to an SME. Let’s be real: you usually wouldn’t get an internship slot in a big company unless “you know someone there.” Also, a number of big firms contact only applicants who have been picked and, consequently, some applicants might still be home and keeping their fingers crossed even when they would have been ‘bounced’. Don’t be that guy or girl who wouldn’t work during the vac because no company called him/ her. After my third year in the University of Ghana Business School, for instance, I wanted to test – and improve upon – my French (since I had been studying it right from my first year). All I had to do was contact some language institute, schedule an appointment and, after having my CV and cover letter scrutinised on the D-day, bam, I got the job. (That doesn’t sound like rocket science, does it?)

Another reason I would advise students to consider SMEs is that, therein, you’re likely to perform diverse roles rather than the monotonous task(s) you’re likely to carry out in a large-scale organisation. Many interns have complained that when they end up in these already established organisations, they seemingly do nothing besides running photocopies and/ or buying ‘waakye’ and ‘Kofi Brokeman’. I doubt that this would be the lot of an intern in an SME. My interactions with others on this subject tell me that interns in SMEs usually learn more than the average intern in a big Ghanaian firm. At the language institute where I worked, for instance, I learnt about terms used in the hospitality industry, the field of medicine and so on. Sharing internship-related experiences with some of my colleagues the next semester made it clear that I so hadn’t wasted my time by working in a not-so-popular institution.

Get some quality experience from some good SMEs and by the time you turn up for that interview at Ecobank or Barclays, you’d have that two- to five-year work experience that our HR people love to ask for.

Nonetheless, there is this hard truth that would-be interns should note: you might not get any substantial amount as your monthly allowance, and I have firsthand experiences in this regard. Even at a renowned – and profitable – media house where I worked after my second year, my allowance for a month was not enough to cover even my transportation alone for two weeks. That being said, I still did it for the experience. So here’s my advice for you, internship-seeker; if you can afford it, look beyond the money and intern with a firm that’s into something you love. If you can’t foot your own transport to and from the place you have in mind, consider another nearby organisation. Whatever it is, don’t just stay at home – just WhatsApping and Snapping; you can do better. You should do better.

By Hamilton K. Blankson ( [email protected] )

(The writer, Hamilton Blankson, is a graduand of the University of Ghana Business School. Despite his major in Banking and Finance, he takes delight in languages – especially Romance ones. He also writes songs and fictional stories and, as such, prefers to call himself a ‘communicator’. Hamilton admits that one of the things that make him smile in bed at night is helping people to become better versions of themselves.)

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