Internships help give future leaders real-life experience

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 March, 2007, 12:00am

TO PREPARE undergraduates for life in the 'real world', PolyU's Faculty of Business has taken the lead in making work-integrated education a required part of the curriculum.

Students must now complete a minimum 300 hours of work experience during their course and do so through internships arranged with many of Hong Kong's leading companies.

According to Judy Tsui, dean of the faculty, the aim is to provide practical insights and a better understanding of how industries and organisations really function.

'It gives students a better idea of what is going on in the real world and, after graduation, they will know what employers expect,' Professor Tsui said. Besides that, it allowed them to take the first important steps in building a network of professional contacts.

Professor Tsui said that this requirement was introduced first for the BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration) course in 2005. Since then, it has become a mandatory element for all the university's undergraduate programmes. Students generally complete their internship over the summer but, as an alternative, can opt to work full-time for a semester. Thanks to close collaboration with various employers, the Faculty of Business has already been able to set up 580 placements. As the scheme progresses there should be more opportunities to take up positions in the mainland.

Undergraduates and postgraduates have many other chances to learn outside the classroom. They take part in regular company visits, course projects, class assignments and international study tours.

The School of Accounting and Finance last year launched a fast-track professional development programme specifically for students with high potential and a global outlook. Intended primarily for those taking the BBA honours course, the school makes available internships with leading international accounting firms and financial institutions, and sponsors one-semester exchange visits to a top mainland or overseas university.

Professor Tsui said that strong ties to the corporate world were also vital for keeping academic staff in touch with market developments and the latest business thinking.

'Sitting on the committees of professional bodies and institutes helps us keep tabs and understand what is going on. We value these relationships and this exposure because in this way we can feel the pulse of the community,' she said.

'Many colleagues have also done consultancy work for companies which helps to bring us closer.'