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VAS

Internship boosts quality of journalism graduates and media industry

OPINION
By David Omwoyo | November 3rd 2021

Bachelors of Science in Communication and Journalism graduates during their graduation ceremony at Moi University-Main Campus in Eldoret on October 3, 2018. [Peter Ochieng,

In my various interactions with journalism graduates, the common complaint has been the numerous hurdles they face trying to access work-related skills in media organisations.

This is a sad situation, given the exponential growth of Kenya’s media space into one of the most vibrant in the region.

The place of skilled workforce in any profession cannot be gainsaid. Just like other vocations, media performance has come under scrutiny from time to time over the professional conduct of its personnel. Media professionals determine the quality of information collected and disseminated by media outlets.

As it is with every profession, having a good degree or diploma is no longer enough to secure that all-important job offer in today’s world. Suitable work experience is now just as valuable as degree and examination results in developing a successful career. Because of this, internships have become a vital way to assist candidates to stand out from the pack.

Yet lack of a functional relationship between the media industry and academia has frustrated the attainment of practical industrial exposure that is critical to skills transfer. It is disheartening that many students seeking industrial attachment are forced to pay for the period should they be lucky to get space.

The upshot of this is the worrying levels of unemployment. Thousands of young people graduate from tertiary institutions with impressive credentials from a wide range of academic and technical disciplines. However, their preparation for the work industry and life is generally low, leading to a sense of frustration and hopelessness.

Young and aspiring journalists face numerous challenges in accessing jobs after graduating. Most are not skilled enough to undertake competent media work, and as a result most media outlets are not keen to absorb this otherwise versatile group. Additionally, many of the graduates cannot set up their own media enterprises because of skills gap.

There is therefore need for skilling our journalism graduates with the requisite knowledge needed in the newsroom and other areas requiring media expertise. Immersive internships are essential to successful outcomes after graduation of our young people.

Industrial placements also help to build knowledge of workplace collaboration, character, business etiquette and communication tactics, which are among the vital “soft skills” that can only be learned on the job.

Further, an internship offers an experiential learning opportunity that offers valuable chance for students to network and build critical professional connections before they even graduate. For some learners, internships are also stepping-stones to full-time jobs.

Working in a real-world environment will help the young people to understand the complexities of the media sector and ultimately help them to determine their career path.

It will take a collaborative effort to strengthen our media. One such effort is the Public Service Internship Programme that has been established to assist the youth to gain workplace experience and enable them to have a competitive edge in their job search.

The Media Council of Kenya has also recently moved to strengthen working relations between the media and training institutions through an internship programme. We have signed pacts with media outlets and training institutions to implement this. The council will extend a stipend to cover the trainees’ travel and insurance costs.

This is only one step in the journey of thousand miles. For a greater impact, more stakeholders and development partners need to support this initiative as it will eventually contribute to availability of opportunities for thousands of our media sector graduates.

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