How many post-graduate internship programs does your company start in a year? And how many of your selected candidates are actually familiar with the industry’s technologies? Hiring managers probably think that taking the responsibility to train and form new people costs more money and energy than hiring someone who is experienced and can perform the job from day one.
As a young business owner, I value young talent along with the possibility for newbies to understand where they fit best within the industry. Internships give both sides a six-month “grace” period (this is how long they usually last in Italy) to understand if the company, the environment, the job, and the person are a good fit. For this reason, I think that internships are a great tool. Unfortunately, after my company started its first few internships, we came to realize that there are some bumps that might discourage companies from investing in these programs.
For example, you need to teach and train interns for the job. These young fellows are usually fresh out of universities, which means that they are new to almost everything. Training costs money, time, and you need someone to mentor them. On top of this, there can also be institutional problems like government laws that regulate how many internships you can conduct at the same time, how long they can stay in the company, and how much you should pay them monthly.
There are indeed some difficulties that can come between a company and the positive outcome of an internship, but I think that while weighing the positives and negatives of this type of program, there is also another important aspect to consider: the people who are now graduating will probably shape the industry in about 10–15 years, which makes them the people that companies would want to invest in.
While working in Italy, I noticed that many universities teach students to be translators but seldom prepare these young fellows to be ready to work in or for a translation agency. More often than not, they aren’t familiar with tools, technologies, or processes. Considering how evolved the industry is now and the plethora of tasks to be accomplished, young graduates need a stronger practical knowledge of what is expected in their day-to-day workload.
Another important aspect to consider is the fact that the translation business in the last 20 years has evolved greatly and now offers many more language services that do not necessarily require people to have translator-related skills. While there are many undergraduate programs that offer translator degrees, there are only few masters/certificates—like the WU program to become a localization engineer—that give young adults the possibility to evolve their language studies into something more specific. Considering that universities should prepare students to work, I believe that keeping up with industry needs is extremely important. If universities alone can’t bridge the gap between learning and working, then companies should contribute. This is exactly where internships come into play and can be of great advantage to everyone.
The lack of industry training that young people receive during their university years could be easily overcome by creating a solid cooperation between universities and local translation agencies. Training might not be the main responsibility of a company, but there are strategies—tailor-made for specific necessities—that involve little investment and can narrow the gap between the industry’s needs and what is taught in school, allowing everyone to profit from this new network.