Ensuring inters are meeting their learning objectives – BENEFIT-ENTAG 2nd midterm internship review meeting
On January 1, 2019, BENEFIT-ENTAG post-graduate internship project held its second midterm review meeting with twenty interns from across four regions. The meeting was organized to evaluate the various activities in the internship programme, address issues to effectively utilize the remaining internship period and contribute towards effective management of the project in the future. The twenty interns are recent BSc and MSc graduates from different universities in agribusiness, horticulture and other agricultural disciplines. Thus far, the project has places over 80 interns with an existing host companies engaged in horticulture, spices, aquaculture etc.
Shitaye Adugna, ENTAG Innovation and Internship Manager who facilitated the meeting presented the objectives as follows
- To evaluate orientation training, learning plan and internship objectives and to analyse its practicality in terms of actual interns’ performances
- To enable interns to effectively utilize the remaining internship period
- To identify problem areas and rectify them
- To provide feedback for effective management of the program in the future
During the first session, the interns shared their experiences working with farmers, coffee quality and processing, marketing agro chemicals and pesticides, conducting environmental and social impact assessment, compost production to increase coffee production, crop management, conducting baseline survey, reviewing corporate social responsibility, laboratory control etc. 90% said they are very happy with their experience while 10% need some support in addressing some issues to ensure their intern experience become fruitful.
- The value of having a well qualified, knowledgeable and skilled supervisor who is willing to give the interns a meaningful learning experience was raised repeatedly. The goal of the project is to give the interns enough exposure and practical experience to build their confidence and enhance their employability. Out of twenty, only three reported lack of proper support from supervisors. Some of the challenges inters faced in this area included
- Supervisors not willing to show interns the different aspects of the business and the tendency to keep them in one area (eg. Production)
- In most cases, supervisors who have lower level of education are intimidated by the inters and are resistance to give their full support to the interns (job security).
- Hard work, good attitude and willingness to learn have more value that education for most companies. Some were even told, if they want to continue working as regular employees they will have to take low salary that might not reflect their educational background. In those circumstances, the interns were advices to continue working until a better opportunity comes up.
- It was noted that to get maximum benefit from the internship experience timing of placement is crucial. Some missed the planting season and started during harvest, limiting their experience in the 4 months given for the internship.
- Distance of field work and lack of proper transport is a challenge raised by those who work closely with farmers.
- Relevance of confidence and networking in securing a job was highlighted.
“In spite of the hardship, the hot and dry weather, and difficulty to reach farmers in remote place, it is very gratifying to see the changes in the lives of the farmers. We learned a lot and have a lot to teach others. I have seen a farmer transform his life within a short period of time and I want to do the same.” Aniyo Yohannes Animal Production Coordinator at Temesgen Retebo Integrated Farm
“I work closely with a person who has over 11 years’ experience in agro chemical and I have learned a lot from him. I did not know much about marketing before, but now I know I am good at it. I go around and talk to farmers to better understand their needs. I can answer questions on crop chemical and pesticides better than those who studied crop production. The best thing I have learned is the value of networking. Whenever opportunities arise, I give my number and ask how I can help.” Wolde Ayano, Sales Officer at Alema Farm
Hikma Sultan, Assistant Internship Coordinator at BENEFIT/ ENTAG “I feel very lucky to have this opportunity. I am placed in a good environment where I can learn a lot. I am getting experience in organizing meetings, budgeting, facilitating payments etc. I am also using the opportunity to network and meet people. What I like the most about working with my supervisor is the fact that I have a weekly learning plan where I get to learn something new every week. Day by day I am more confident I can deliver tasks assigned to me.”