Dubai: There is nothing better than a real-time internship to help students and employers get a balanced perspective on productivity and career prospects. Keeping up its annual exercise of providing students a taste of careers ahead, the careers section of the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT)-Dubai women’s campus launched its ‘Hire for Summer Programme 2013’ earlier in the summer. The progamme, which began on July 1 will continue until August 31, providing nearly 150 summer jobs to students in government, semi-government and largely private sectors.
The programme has had a successful annual run every summer since 2008 and has been very popular with all students seeking to try their hand at jobs and plan their careers in advance.
“Since 2008, HCT Dubai has been running the Hire for Summer Programme,” explained Shamsa Alamimi, supervisor career services at the HCT women’s campus. “It has been a very successful programme due to the growing number of employers joining the HCT-Dubai women’s database every year, as well as due to the increasing awareness and eagerness to spend their summers productively.
“Students find placements across all sectors — private, government and semi -government organisations,” said Alamini. “The programme aims to provide students with employment opportunities during the summer to learn more about their careers and to increase their chances in getting a full-time job. It also helps employers to meet their recruitment needs and get acquainted with the workforce of tomorrow.
Very often, said Alamimi, summer jobs do translate to long-term employment at the end of the student’s education term as part- or full-time.
Education spoke to two students from the college to understand how the programme benefited them.
“The job experience made me more confident and a stronger person,” said Haifa Ali Bin Kamal. Haifa has had a particularly enriching job experience in the two years that she has signed up for the summer hire programme. An undergraduate student of Business and Financial Services at the Dubai Women’s College, she managed to get a job first as an intern at a private bank in 2011 and at the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) in 2012. This gave her a good exposure to both private and government sector jobs and both jobs, she says, have enriched and empowered her as a student.
“Last year, working in Dewa was a good experience. I learned a lot of things that were related to my major. I trained with different people in the same department and learned about the type of jobs they do. Although their jobs weren’t easy and they were busy, they were very encouraging and helpful when I faced some difficulties,” she recalls.
“My previous experience as an intern was with an international bank for two months. The job was very rewarding. I was trained by experienced people and put through many departments and moved to several branches. It was very different from Dewa. Since it was a private bank, the job was harder but it helped me learn more about my major and the kind of job I will be doing in the future.
“I was also exposed to many different cultures which I found challenging because I wasn’t used to that. It put me through some out-of-the-ordinary situations at first but I dealt with them professionally. I benefited a lot from that experience, it made me a more confident and strong person with more knowledge about diverse cultures.”
“Working in a professional environment was a humbling experience,” said another intern Mariam Ali Khalfan.
Mariam graduated this year from HCT with a major in Financial Services. While her exposure to internships and summer jobs is limited, she still reaped the benefits of the Hire for Summer programme. In 2012, Mariam signed up with the careers section as an intern at Dewa’s main branch in the customer service section. Dealing with daily public queries and being part of a team was a sharp learning curve for her.
She recalls: “It was a very useful experience that introduced me [for the first time] to the real working environment. It is one thing to stand at the desk and be a customer but to be on the serving end and give the best — that is humbling. Throughout my tenure, I was analysing the way the employees worked as a group.
“I worked at the customer services back office which consisted mostly of Emirati staff,” Mariam continues. “My responsibilities included noting the total amounts from the bills and documents from all branches, checking signatures and errors in the bills and documents, trying to solve cases from different departments, and dealing with customers and calling customers to receive their bill, etc. All these duties taught me a lot. To deal with another’s cash is a big responsibility and I was alert to keep the error margins very low or non-existent. I developed the habit of being thorough and organised. I am now confident of my work skills and look forward to finding a full-time placement.”
(Ruqya Khan is a freelance writer based in Sharjah.)