Online Internships: No hands-on experience

Education Technology

As most internships go online, students worry they won’t acquire any skills due to  lack of practical experience.

Bengaluru: Students pursuing their Bachelor’s in Engineering got no hands-on experience in their internships, as they were conducted online due to the pandemic. 

Pranav K Bhat, a final year engineering student feels the lack of hands-on experience may affect his job prospects. “It was like watching YouTube videos, and I could not absorb anything. Even though they give demonstrations online, I cannot see it clearly.   It is not the same as personally being present in the place and handling the components myself.”

A 2019 report on National Employability states that only 40 percent of engineering students perform internships in India, and as a consequence the course in India is very theoretical. However, in 2018 Visvesvaraya Technical University (VTU) made it mandatory for the students to attend internship for four weeks to gain practical experience. But due to the pandemic, students had to do online internships this year and could not get enough practical experience. 

Goutham C, who did an online internship in Embedded Systems said, “I could not concentrate completely as there were distractions at home and there was no proper routine. I wanted to become familiar with the workplace environment and simultaneously learn the subject of my interest but I could not do either.” 

A study states, “Internship programs can assist with skill development, such as writing skills, oral communication and computer skills, taking initiatives, time management skills, dependability, professional skills, interaction with others, ability to contribute, the overall quality of work and attitude and also connect classroom theories to the workplace.”

The 2020-21 India skills report shows that the employability of BE/B-ech students has reduced  from 49 percent to 46 percent. Another report shows that  employable talent  of BE/B-Tech graduates  has decreased from 2015 to 2021 by 8 percent.

Bharath, Embedded Systems Engineer at Edgate Technologies Pvt. Ltd feels the gap in skills  will increase because of online internships. “Our company provides internship in collaboration with Texas Instruments mainly on Embedded Systems. But due to the pandemic we had to go online.  The program has not been effective because it is very practical oriented. Unless and until the students work with us by being physically present, they cannot fully grasp the concept,” he said.  

Bharath G, Corporate Trainer consultant said,  “We prefer people to join the  company as early as possible when we recruit them. Industry and product training can’t be done online, and even if we try to do so,  the impact is very low. Team building is very important but it is very difficult to coordinate virtually.” He further said that while training there is a huge difference between virtual and practical platforms and students missed out on a lot of skill development.

Bhavya AR, Lecturer at Bangalore Institute of Technology, “Online platforms will not facilitate students to learn practically. We need hands-on experience in order to apply the theory we  have learnt..”

Dimple Sawhney, an educationist said, “If a student does not do an internship and experience the work environment, how will he or she get to know how the work is done? And, the student has to spend a lot more time when they join an organization and they may not even get a job if they don’t have required skills. When the student graduates, he is only half prepared and internships help one to be fully prepared for the real world. ”