online internship news: Why online internship is not feasible in every stream

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, most students have organically opted for online internships. A few streams where the interns can get hands-on experience at the factory, market or hotel are struggling due to lockdown. The biggest sufferers are students of Civil, Mechanical Engineering, Hotel Management and Fashion Designing among others.

Deepankar Choudhury, chair professor and head, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Bombay, “Civil Engineering is one of the major engineering subjects where hands on practical experience are required. Because of the current situation, students are left with no other option but to go for the online internship which is more of a demo session. Online internships are not much of use for practical oriented subjects”.

Choudhury emphasises that industry people and academicians must use simple and easy to understand language in online study material or internship. “Communication plays an important role in developing interest among students for a subject. For effective learning during the online internships, language must be simple to keep our students engaged during this time,” he adds.


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Internships tweaked after Covid

Alka Mahajan, dean, NMIMS Mukesh Patel School of Technology Management and Engineering, Mumbai says, “Comparison between in-person and online internships is difficult to draw, particularly in non-circuit disciplines like Mechanical, Civil, and Chemical where the students look forward to witnessing theory being put into practice.”

“Given the crisis, most of the work given by the industry mentors were tweaked to be carried out from home. For example, a student was asked to carry out defect analysis by providing various parameters such as rejection weight, steel grade, a cross-section of the steel bars, etc. Design of chimney scaffolding, design of vertical unrolling cylinder and machine, design of shredder parts and assembly all using Solid Works software is but a few more examples of projects given to students which provided an effective learning experience. The industry mentors were extremely helpful in understanding material requirements and drawing details,” says Mahajan.

Pandemic impact on enrolment

Other than Engineering, Hotel Management and Fashion Designing are other streams where practical is major constituent of the course curriculum. “Around 80% of the syllabus in Hotel Management courses needs practical exposure. Our students are missing out on opportunities to learn by doing as almost entire hospitality industry has come to standstill due to Covid-19 crisis,” says Stalin Kanna, chairman, The National Institute of Health, Hotel, Humanities Management (NIHM), Chennai. The current situation has even led to a decline in enrolment of students in his Institute, he adds hoping that demand will grow again after the graph flattens.

For Fashion Designing courses, Jaspreet Kaur, associate professor, Pearl Academy, New Delhi, says, it has been a mixed bag of experiences for students. “The online internship and teaching-learning process has eased the communication among students from various campuses. Attendance has also improved in online format. But digital learning poses challenge to conduct classes where lab assistance such as designing and stitching is required,” says Kaur.

“We do not have an alternate and more practical solution to address this gap. Faculties have been provided the best possible facilities by the Institute to demonstrate the lab session,” says Kaur.

On decline in enrolment, Kaur says that students and parents are now more accustomed and mentally prepared for digital learning. “The current crisis will not lead to decline in enrolment as digital learning has become new norm and stay here for some longer duration,” she adds.

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