Every tertiary student takes an internship or attachment before graduation but most do not know the difference. Most Ghanaian students refer to internship as attachment and attachment as an internship. While there is a thin line between the two, both involve actual practical learning unlike traditional classroom learning, they provide a transitional experience, that’s instrumental for their professional lives.
An internship is a period of work experience offered by an employer to give students and graduates exposure to the working environment, often within a specific industry, which relates to their field of study. Internships can be as short as a week or as long as 12 months. They can be paid or voluntary; however, before you start an internship it’s important to know your rights with regards to getting paid or not. Based on that, an internship can be grouped into; paid internship, unpaid internship, or partially paid internship. Partially paid internships are when interns are paid in the form of a stipend.
Students who mostly take up internships are either final year students or graduates. Graduates and finalists have completed their academic responsibilities and are yet to be employed. They, therefore, take internships to acquire work experience and become employable.
An attachment, also known as an industrial attachment is an opportunity for a continuing student to work in a professional work environment, apply learned knowledge and acquire real work experience. Attachments can be compulsory for completion of the academic curriculum of a diploma, degree or master’s course and thus credit-bearing.
Your career aspirations may change when you’re faced with the true realities of a role. Attachment can therefore be used as a "try before you buy" option before you embark on a career and confirm if this is what you want to do in the long term.
Attachments take a month or 2 to 4 months and employers rarely pay for them.
In the nutshell, both internship and attachment to gain practical skills that will help strengthen your CV and make you more employable. They offer you the chance to test your skills in real-life situations, explore your career options and gain an insight into an organisation or career path.
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