One of the biggest decisions for a student in their last days in high school is choosing the career they will pursue for the rest of their working days.
On the other hand, employers have decried the quality of training offered in colleges and universities citing the disconnect with dynamic demands in the job market.
To bridge the gap, some schools, working together with private firms in the country, have taken up the responsibility to equip the students with knowledge and training to guide them to the best possible career path.
Such an internship programme for students has been rolled out by Light International School Nairobi working in conjunction with firms such as Skyward Express, Heart Rhythm Centre and Meridian Equator Hospital.
The programme gives students a participatory experience of a real workplace before they apply for university at the end of their studies.
School Principal, Yasin Yakut, who originated the programme, said it is designed to assist students to make informed decisions as far as career choices are concerned. So far, 46 students have benefitted from programme.
Yakut described the venture as an important stepping stone that equips students with the necessary experience before they settle on which professions to pursue.
“It is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to help our students to learn what is expected of them. We are preparing them for top universities in the world and this programme assists us to realise this objective,” he said.
The principal constituted a team headed by Nebert Mukongolo, a corporate relations expert, which then secured institutions willing to take in their students.
Mr Mukongolo, the project coordinator, said the one-month programme started with an orientation on August 10. Interested students had to secure their parents' consent before they joined.
“We crafted together some of the most marketable courses and working with partners, we were able to offer our students internships in medicine, aviation, social work, finance, communication, sports management, law, engineering, communication as well as counselling and psychology,” says Mukongolo.
He said they put the students through a rigorous orientation where they had to adhere to a strict work profile with an elaborately stated objective.
Supervisors in the institutions helped students comply after which each student report was presented to the school, said Mukongolo.
“Universities, especially Ivy League colleges often require students to have undergone work exposure,” he said.
Darlin Muya of Skyward Express said that the students were excellent with admirable displays of maturity, focus and discipline.
“They knew what they wanted and were inquisitive throughout the internship. We had them working just as hard as normal employees and they did not disappoint,” she said.
Students learnt basic nursing at the hospitals and clinics and those who were placed in a law office had first-hand experience drafting legal documents and getting involved in judicial procedures.
“I believe secondary schools should do more to ensure career guidance is properly implemented,” says lawyer Job Odhiambo of Ogola Okello & Company Advocates.
He said the programme is the best at a time when students are required to choose career paths, adding that the programme is crucial in candidate’s career progression.
“It makes them ready, and I could see their obvious determination to learn which made it easy for us to share pointers to ease their transition into the next level,” said the lawyer.
Alvin Mwaura, an intern who went to Don Bosco Boys Centre, a street children institution, said it was an eye-opener. He described it as a rare privilege to rehabilitate street children.
Father Peter Mutechura, who runs the centre, said the organisation, said that they had interns willing to work with rehabilitated street children who had suffered traumatic experiences in life and were impressed by the effort displayed.
“Mwaura, who is just 18 years, displayed admirable enterprise in dealing with the boys. He listened to them, was interactive and even participated in their sports and entertainment,” he said.
He also praised the enthusiasm, confidence and technological savvy of students from Light Academy, which, he said, would enable them to settle into a career.
Ece Nur Cankal, who is considering psychology as a career after an internship at a medical centre, said the internship enabled her to come to terms with what to expect from the profession.
“It was not only a working experience but a life experience for us during the internship. I can now confidently state that I am better equipped to choose the best career for myself,” concurred Rayyan Hussein Hassan.
Karlyn Githui said she was not sure about her career path but after interning at Optimum Medical Centre, she has made a decision to pursue nursing.
Other students who have undergone the internship include Jeremy Monari who interned at a leading law firm and Jaabir Abdullah who has now settled on a career as an engineer.
“I even tried my hand at drafting legal documents which was an eye opener for me,” said Monari.
Yakut said their students required an edge to get ahead in today’s competitive market.
“We are confident that our students experienced real life out there and the experience will help them determine the most ideal courses to pursue," he said.