The Role of Internships in Launching a Career in Nigeria

by Obanya Isioma
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Experience is one of the biggest requirements for getting a job in Nigeria. The higher your level of experience and number of relevant certifications, the more likely you will get a job and build a career. But there comes the main question: how can I start a career as a fresh graduate when most entry jobs require at least a year to two years of experience? 

For reasons like this, internships have been embedded in Nigerian university curricula. Let’s look at the role of internships in launching a career in Nigeria.

Meaning of Internship

An internship is gaining work experience in a particular field. This offers meaningful and practical knowledge to the supposed student or trainee. Internship jobs are mainly used to widen one’s applicable understanding of the corporate world and give a head-start in starting a career. 

Note that, employers of interns are not obligated to pay them but they can be given a stipend if the employer deems fit. 

Read also: 10 Benefits of Internship and How to Get Them.

Pursuing a Career Path in Nigeria

When we hear the word career, we think it’s a job or something we do for money, but a career is a life path. It progresses with time and advances to different levels and stages. To build a good career, you need a good foundation. You pick up relevant skills along the way, which takes you higher up the ladder.

One important thing to do while building is never to be comfortable where you are; keep climbing; you might take a break, but don’t stay stagnant. 

There are things you need to know while launching a career, and you should take note of them:

  • List your skills and talents
  • Check your qualification 
  • Prepare a good CV
  • Gain experience (the best way to begin is through internship jobs)
  • Continue climbing the ladder

Starting a career with little to no experience has always been a hassle. No company wants to deal with a fresh graduate; they want someone who can learn on a job and has applicable knowledge. They need someone they can trust with the company’s affairs without checking every minute.

We all know it is hard to gain experience when companies are looking for people who already have an insight into how the job will be. That’s why the Nigerian Government decided to make the SIWES scheme compulsory for all tertiary institutions in Nigeria. 

Read also: Career Growth Strategies for Entry-level Professionals in Nigeria.

Forms of Internship: SIWES and IT

 SIWES (Student Industrial Work Experience Scheme) and IT (Industrial Training) have become necessary to graduate or move on to the next classes. SIWES, founded in 1974 by ITF (Industrial Training Fund), was established to curb the inexperience of graduates from Nigerian tertiary institutions. 

IT is compulsory for all ND (National diploma) polytechnic students who wish to return for higher studies. SIWES/IT facilitates the practical learning of students on-site. They learn the theoretical aspect in school and go on an internship to understand the applied aspect.

Aims and Objectives of SIWES for Nigerian Students

  • To help them get the required applied knowledge for their course of study.
  • To prepare them for any work situation after graduation. 
  • To make the student understand the theoretical knowledge taught in school. 
  • To prepare students for their career path. 

The duration of this internship is usually within 3-6 months. They are given logbooks to fill, this is to track what has been learned weekly. The logbook is to be signed and stamped by the supposed supervisor. 

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Importance of Internship

Internships are essential for several reasons; 

  1. Helps to build confidence

As a student, it is normal to be intimidated by full-time workers, but the internship helps you get over the fear before you start working. 

  1. Acquisition of new skills

There are skills you can only learn when you are put in accurate life analysis. These skills can help you in school and further studies. It also makes you a reliable employee.

  1. Gaining connection

This helps pave the way for your future career and jobs after school. During an internship, you meet with people and gain information and resourcse, which can help you in your time of need and struggle. 

  1. Career development

Internships help in gaining early connections, mentorship, and guidance. All these help in the progress of your career. You experience what a typical day will look like and see the opportunities in that career path, how to go about it, and how to develop it. 

Challenges Faced by Interns

  1. Adapting to a new environment

Students find it hard to adjust because they have not experienced life beyond the walls of their classroom, but with time, they overcome this.

  1. Competition with fellow interns

Everyone wants to stand out as the hardworking person to gain favor from their supervisors. This leads to a cold war, which can escalate and cause enemies along the way. 

  1. Overworking

Because interns are new to the office life, their supervisors tend to overuse them and send on errands that are not work related. In the end, the student does not get to learn something reasonable.

  1. Lack of significant feedback from the supervisor

Sometimes, supervisors do not take their time to teach the students and tell them where they have gone wrong.

  1. Little to no pay

Little to no pay for interns affects them, making them resort to additional mini jobs to take care of themselves. 

Challenges of Starting a Career Without an Internship

  • Lack of proper experience or knowledge
  • Lack of essential skills when starting a career
  • Difficulty in starting a career 
  • Students may find it hard to adapt to the new working environment.

Read also: Career opportunities in the Renewable Energy Sector in Nigeria. 


The fact is established that an internship is necessary for launching a promising career and development in the long run. It is commendable that Nigerian education has sat down to address the issue and brought about a solution. Now, it’s in the hands of the student to take advantage of this opportunity. 

Do you want more insightful articles that will teach you how to boost your productivity at work and grow your career? Subscribe to our newsletter to receive them. 

Edited by Oluwanifemi Akintomide.

About Author

Obanya Isioma
Obanya Isioma
Obanya Isioma a writer with an eye for creativity and never fails to express herself in her work. A poet and a content writer, who started writing as a hobby and ended up becoming the passion, which she uses to create exceptional work.

She is always ready to learn and never scared to take up new challenges.

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