Tech-driven internships: nurturing graduates for tomorrow workgorce
How have technology and AI influenced the availability and accessibility of international internships for University studentes?
Completing an international internship remotely from your campus or your student housing before 2020 was unheard of in many places of the world. While certain countries and companies were already offering such opportunities, generally speaking, completing an international internship online from home before 2020 was not feasible. With that said, remote internships are one thing - opening the entire world to you as a student for an international experience from your laptop. But even information about international internships and access to resources about them is very limited in general around the world. Thanks to the Internet and social media, students today have access to information about international internship opportunities that previous generations didn't have. I'm just thinking about my generation, I graduated in 2009 and there was no information at all on my campus or online on my student portal about international internships. It was something I heard of from a Dutch exchange student for the first time. Given this, the accessibility of information about international internships has increased in the last several years as well as the openness and willingness from corporations around the world to welcome international interns. The demand for interns from corporations is there - more than ever before.
In what ways do you think technology and AI have transformed (and are still transforming) the learning experience during international internships?
Technology and AI have indeed transformed and continue to transform the learning experience for students during international internships in several ways:
- GLOBAL CONNECTIVITY: Instant messaging, video calls, and voice notes allow students to communicate rapidly with colleagues from all around the world.
- REMOTE INTERNSHIPS: Students can now intern from home at any company in the world - they have the world at their fingertips, which is a huge opportunity for many students who are unable to travel.
- DATA ANALYTICS: Students can now leverage data analytics tools and AI algorithms to extract valuable insights from large datasets. This skill is increasingly important in various industries and contributes to a more data-driven approach to decision-making. We're seeing this more and more from corporations and organisations around the world.
- CULTURAL SENSITIVITY: AI-powered simulations and training programmes can help interns develop cultural sensitivity and adaptability skills, preparing them for the challenges of working in diverse international environments. Naturally, travelling to an international country and experiencing it first-hand can never be replaced - these are new tools that didn't exist before and are becoming increasingly popular.
- AUTOMATION AND EFFICIENCY: AI and automation tools such as ChatGPT, RescueTime, Jigso's Sidekick etc. now handle routine tasks, freeing up interns to focus on higher-value projects and learning for corporations. This means students are expected to deliver a different set of values to a company than before.
With the rise of automation and AI, there is a growing emphasis on the importance of soft skills in the job market. Which specifici soft skills do you believe are on the rise and becoming increasingly valuable for graduates, regardless of their field of study? How can universities effectively nurture and develop these skills in their students?
The rise of automation and AI is reshaping the job market, making soft skills crucial for students to develop. Why? Because soft skills can't be replicated by machines. Many soft skills are becoming increasingly important and valuable for graduates, but my top three are:
- EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE (EQ): As machines cannot replicate human emotions (yet!) - building understanding, self-awareness, and the ability to navigate complex and challenging social situations at a workplace is of utmost importance. Real-world experiences such as international internships and volunteering experiences provide a great platform to practice and nurture emotional intelligence for students.
- ADAPTABILITY AND GRIT: Given the rapidly changing world and how fast workplaces are changing, graduates who can adapt to new situations quickly and bounce back from setbacks are key. Universities can take several approaches to develop this soft skill, but one that I believe in is to encourage extracurricular activities. Encourage students to take part in clubs, and organisations, and to do sports. I've personally learned a lot about adaptability and grit from training table tennis and jujitsu.
- COMMUNICATION SKILLS: The ability to communicate clearly and effectively, both in written and verbal forms, is crucial. Above all - in written form. Graduates who can convey their ideas, collaborate with others, and adapt their communication style are highly prized.
Warren Buffett, arguably the smartest financial mind of our time, said, “The one easy way to become worth 50 per cent more than you are now, at least - is to hone your communication skills - both written and verbal.” Written words are more important now than ever. The average office worker sends 40 emails. That’s thanks to changes in technology and hybrid work.
How can this be nurtured at universities? Real-world experiences such as international internships as well as workshops with professionals help students better grasp how one must communicate effectively in a workplace.
How is technolgy, particularly and data analytics, reshaping traditional job roles and creating new careers/opportunities across industries?
Technology, especially AI and data analytics is reshaping and reshuffling traditional job roles whilst creating new career opportunities across industries for graduates around the world. In my opinion, here are some of the ways technology and AI are driving change:
- AUTOMATION OF TASKS: Today, AI and automation are being used to handle repetitive and routine tasks previously performed by humans. This includes data entry, basic customer support, chat, and manufacturing tasks. As a result, job roles that primarily involve these tasks are disappearing.
- LEGAL: AI is being used to review legal documents, predict legal outcomes, and ensure regulatory compliance. This has led to the growth of legal technologist and compliance analyst roles. These roles were held by paralegals in the past.
- ENERGY: AI is currently used to optimise energy consumption and monitor environmental conditions. Roles like energy analysts and sustainability are increasing rapidly.
However, these industry changes require a different skill set, including proficiency in AI, communication, EQ, data analytics, and critical thinking. Indeed, as its use grows, AI is likely to require professionals’ all-new skill sets to manage it.
As technology continues to evolve rapidly, what role do you see AI playing in the future of international internships and the overall higher education experience?
AI will certainly create new types of international internship opportunities as the use of AI increases such as Sentiment Analysis (content will need to be interpreted by a human being with emotions and contextual knowledge), AI-Generated Work Auditors (humans must audit or analyse generated work) and AI Input And Output Coordinators (individuals who manage the inputs into and outputs from AI tools to protect against bias and privacy or security violations) as examples. Consequently, this means universities must adapt to the new jobs that are being created with the higher use of AI - offering adequate and modern education that corresponds to future jobs.