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Embracing the Value of Student Placements and Internship Programs:

Student work placement

A Reflection Brenda Mannion

Reflecting on years of developing internship programs and collaborating closely with educational providers, I can’t help but express my deep appreciation for the incredible partners I’ve worked with. Yet, amidst successes, a glaring truth emerges: Undergrads often struggle in the professional world because academia and industry aren’t aligned.

It’s not that students lack expertise in their chosen fields; rather, it’s the dearth of opportunities to apply that knowledge in real-world contexts that’s the culprit. It’s disheartening to witness how the absence of robust industry partnerships with educational institutions translates into missed opportunities for meaningful learning experiences, leaving students and graduates ill-prepared for the demands of the workplace.

What I’ve observed is a disconcerting trend: Undergraduates today possess commendable depth of knowledge in their specialised fields, a testament to the quality education they receive but they often lack the interpersonal skills essential for success in a business environment. Resilience, adaptability, and professional behaviours are cultivated through immersive work experiences, yet such opportunities are scarce.

Brenda at TUS Engineering Department, speaking to software undergraduates

The problem is compounded by the changing education model, emphasising continuous learning by enrollment numbers to sustain revenue. This perpetuates the misconception that academic qualifications alone ensure success. The industry’s requirement for 3-5 years of prior experience further exacerbates the problem. Consequently, many students find themselves disillusioned after dedicating substantial time and resources to their education, only to confront a fiercely competitive job market.

Unrealistic expectations further exacerbate the situation. Many students overestimate their market value and underestimate the learning curve required to meet industry standards. It’s concerning to see a sense of entitlement among some, coupled with a lack of emotional maturity for navigating the professional realm.

Companies, too, bear responsibility for fostering a culture that welcomes and nurtures fresh talent. Embracing the enthusiasm and energy of recent graduates can yield remarkable results, provided there’s a commitment to mentorship and professional development.

As I ponder this, I can’t help but wonder: how are we as parents preparing our children for the realities of the working world? The transition from education to employment is undeniably steep, requiring more than just academic prowess to succeed.

At Mersus we’ve witnessed firsthand the importance of bridging this gap.  Our approach is simple yet powerful: we harness interns’ enthusiasm while cultivating more robust professionals. Through immersive internship programs and collaborative projects, we provide students with the opportunity to apply their academic knowledge in real-world settings.

Employees, including interns, attending a hybrid work meeting

Our internship program isn’t your typical run-of-the-mill experience; it’s a dynamic journey designed to transform students into tech professionals ready to take on the challenges of tomorrow. We believe in providing more than just a checkbox on a CV; we’re committed to crafting an immersive learning experience that sets our interns up for success from the get-go.

From the moment interns step through our doors, they’re welcomed into a structured environment that’s all about hands-on learning and growth. Our program is meticulously designed, with clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and learning objectives, ensuring that every intern knows exactly what they’re here to achieve.

Our program goes above and beyond, incorporating a comprehensive framework for learning and professional development. Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of everything we do. Through partnerships with educational institutions, we curate a diverse pool of interns, each bringing their unique perspectives and skills to the table. It’s this diversity that fuels innovation and drives us forward as a company.

Mentorship is a cornerstone of our program. Every intern is paired with an experienced professional who provides personalised guidance and support, helping them to develop both their technical skills and their personal growth.

We believe in the power of soft skills, too. That’s why we prioritise the development of essential attributes like problem-solving, resilience, and communication. We want our interns to be well-rounded professionals ready to tackle any challenge that comes their way.

Continuous evaluation and improvement are key. Our program is constantly evolving, with regular reviews, performance assessments, and feedback mechanisms ensuring that we’re always adapting to meet the needs of our interns and the industry as a whole.

We’re deeply committed to collaboration with educational institutions, too. By participating in advisory panels and working closely with career services, we ensure that students are well-prepared for the professional realm.

Trinity students who completed their SwENG Project with Mersus this year

And of course, we’re always looking to improve. By seeking feedback from interns, educational bodies, and third parties, we stay ahead of industry standards and ensure that our program remains impactful.

By nurturing talent, fostering mentorship, and promoting continuous learning, we’re not just building employees—we’re shaping future leaders