How interns are misused when on attachment

Reality and expectations are two different things; if they meet that’s fate. That is what Mr. Mambo experienced when he was attached to a local company. At the university, lecturers had pointed out that the student on attachment/ internship is expected to acquire general practical expertise which can never be obtained to the same extent from practical work at the college/ university lecture halls.

His first day at the company was supposed to be a great day, according to him. He was going to sit in a big office as a manager ' because that is what he was' a manager in waiting. Mr Mambo walked into the office and saluted the members of staff, to his shock only one of them acknowledged him, the rest just looked at him. Later on, he approached one of them for assistance, ' am an intern please help' Mambo said. Without looking at him, the staff said ' go to the person concerned, he was confused because he did not know who that person was though the name was written on the calling letter.

 He tried to approach the next member of staff and said ' am an intern please help' like she did not hear him properly she told him to speak louder. When he spoke for the second time, the rest of staff members looked at him. A lady sited at a corner signalled him to go to her place. When Mambo got close, she rose and hugged him, then kissed him ' hi darling, you are cute' she said, Mambo felt embarrassed as the other staff giggled uncontrollably.

 He stood stuck not knowing what to do. 'Hey gentleman, do you know the parking area?' One of the staff members asked him.  Mambo answered yes, ' Take these keys, there is a car plate number KSS 007V7, at the back seat there is a handbag and some other stuff, pick them for me'. Mambo made it for the car as requested. When he picked the bag and headed for the office, everyone on his way stopped to look at him, some mocked him, while others giggled, it took time for him to know that the hand bag he was carrying was the reason for their amusement. At day break, he had had enough, however, he did not know that it was the beginning of many days of discomfort.

In most of the days at the office, he was a messenger, personal assistant to all staff members with main activities involving; serving tea, picking and delivering documents, newpapers to offices. On a good day, once a week, one member of staff would sympathise with him, give him a half an hour briefing of the duties they do then go to his seat at the far corner and wait for any good gesture, other personal duties or dismissal at day break.

Mr. Mambo’s predicament at Mambo Leo Global Suppliers is not unique. Research on attachment and internship has shown that  most interns and attachees face a range of problems that include; being engaged in petty work, interns  not allowed to contribute new ideas, unstructured attachment program, sexual harassment and unqualified staff who feel threatened hence become un cooperative; no allowances, work experience in all its variety and mundanity, boredom and pressure, injustice, helplessness etc.

Something needs to be done to help interns/ attachees gain valuable experience that can improve their competencies and professionalism. Take Mr. Mambo for example, who did not know what to write in his attachment/ internship report after his 3 months stay at MLGS. In contrary, the management gave him a good recommendations letter listing the duties he performed, on his part, he was well aware that he was only briefed in most of the duties, but did not practise much of the work. He went to Mambo leo for practical work, only to be fed with theoretical work just like in a lecture hall.