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Internships must now be an essential part of every student’s education – A personal view from the Frontline as an A Level Student in Dubai

Why internships should be an essential part of every student’s education

Photograph of Susan Thomas, a student at GEMS FirstPoint School in Dubai in 2022 taken outside the school. Miss Thomas is a keen proponent of, and evangelist of, internships as being intrinsically important in the education of students.

Susan Thomas (pictured above) speaks out on internships and the important role that they have played in her education

Internships matter

As a student living and studying through the pandemic, thinking about the future and what I might like to do as a career has prompted feelings of anxiety and agitation. Considering everything I could potentially do in this world – and all the variety of the truly amazing jobs out there, how can I possibly focus on just one?

Ever since I was a child, I have always loved mathematics, computing and physics, but I’m still not sure which of these I’d like to pursue once I leave school. These questions prompted me, and gave me the motivation, to seek out an internship with the help of my school to figure out what I want once and for all.

My internship with Corporate Medical Advisors, which began in October 2021 and is still ongoing, can be summarised in three words: challenging, confusing and fulfilling.

At first, being part of a workplace made me feel uneasy as I worried about whether I was performing tasks correctly – and what the consequences would be if I made a mistake. Over the weeks, however, I have become more comfortable and confident in what I do, and I’ve also started to feel more grown up.

Any mistakes I have made were amended by my supervisor, who taught me how to do things correctly. In fact, the supervisors I have worked with so far have been extremely helpful and understanding, guiding me, and calmly and patiently showing me, how to do difficult tasks. Quickly, the workplace has become a part of my routine – a third home away from school and my family life.

The internship has allowed me to discover what I really love, and… what I’m less keen on. Tasks such as using models to predict results or carry out research have been exhilarating and fulfilling and they’ve made my internship really enjoyable. Other tasks, like those involving statistical coding using R or Excel, I’ve found rather dull. But they’ve allowed me to finally answer the question of what I would like to do in future and helped me discover my passion for research, which is what I now want to do in my life.

Having this opportunity to be part of a serious, well-structured and credible internship has prepared me for the workplace by allowing me to better understand what life is like outside school and what skills are needed. These skills, like sticking to deadlines, using Excel and, importantly, communication, have helped me grow as a person, and I now feel ready to become an adult – something that used to terrify me previously!

My time at school has also given me the knowledge and skills I will need in the workplace – but the experience of applying these has been totally different to what I expected. Using the knowledge that I’ve gained at school in the workplace (such as the content I’ve learned from my statistics module in Mathematics) has made me realise, and appreciate, just how important everything is that we learn in school. The experience has also taught me how to work under pressure and better adapt to difficult situations when I might be feeling lost or uncomfortable.

I firmly believe that doing an internship, or any sort of work experience, is really important for students to better succeed in the real world. Due to the pandemic, communication, presentation and time management are skills that are now even more in demand, and, through an internship, students have the chance to develop these essential skills.

My internship has given me the confidence to work efficiently, not only in the workplace, but also in other areas of my life. The skills which I have developed, and experiences I have had, over the course of my internship are things I will never forget.

The opportunity to progress through an internship has allowed me to become more self-assured, responsible and better prepared for the next stage of my life journey.

Susan Thomas. July 2022.


Background – the reasons why schools should be providing internships for students – a teacher’s perspective

Natasha Rush, Teacher of Business and Economics, and Moral Education Leader, GEMS FirstPoint School – The Villa explained to SchoolsCompared:

“Internships are vitally important for students to think about the roles they are looking for in the future and gaining and developing their employability skills that can further their school studies. With the employment field becoming ever more competitive, I think internships are a vital experience for students, like Susan, so they can stand out to future employers.

Within the GEMS Education network, we are fortunate to have a number of excellent opportunities for students – for example, partnerships with Noon, Siemens and other leading companies like Medical Advisors in the UAE. We have had students participate in experiences both online and in the workplace, and both in the UAE and abroad. These have been linked to medicine, business, fashion and other areas of interest for future employment, with students able to expand their experiences and interests, enhancing their personal statement for universities and their CV for future employers.
During the summer holidays, we have many students who have applied to university seminars and workshops to complement their studies. Workshops include STEM camps, Emirates Aviation University and Curtin Dubai virtual summer camps. Over the next year, we aim to include more internships and extra-curricular activities, such as workshops and tours and seminars from iXperience, to continue building on the careers specialism at GEMS FirstPoint School. I am looking forward to seeing our students apply for these opportunities as they become available because they really do matter.


Internships Background

Best Schools in the UAE revealed at Top Schools Awards 2021 - 2022

GEMS FirstPoint School was the recipient of the Top Schools Award for Best School for Technical Stream and Vocational Education in the United Arab Emirates 2021-22.

GEMS FirstPoint was awarded the Best School in the UAE for Technical and Vocational Education in part because of the depth of, and its commitment to, internships for students.

© 2022. All rights of Susan Roberts as the author of this article reserved.

About The Author
Susan Thomas
Susan Thomas is a student in Year 12 at GEMS FirstPoint School – The Villa, currently studying for her A-levels (2022). Miss Thomas is captain of her house and was recently selected by her school for the Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Award for Excellence. She aspires to become an engineer or astrophysicist after she leaves school. Currently studying for A-levels in Physics, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Computer Science and Psychology, in 2022 she will be taking her EPQ.

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