Why IT Internships Often Fail



  • This is mostly hypothesis, but worth considering. IT internships are great, but rarely produce the level of educational benefit that we would how to see and are generally nothing like what we see in other fields. Why is this?

    Some thoughts that I have had:

    • IT people are extremely busy and rarely have the free time that other fields have. This needs to be corrected as it itself represents a problem in the industry. But there is just no free time to sit down with interns and to work with them.
    • Just as there is little to no organization around IT education elsewhere, companies have none of this either.
    • Day to day IT work does not teach much of anything of the underlying skills that it takes to do the job. IT requires foundational knowledge which is poorly represented in day to day tasks, if at all.
    • The job is not physical but cerebral, even of regular tasks, there is extremely little to witness first hand.
    • Mentors rarely have the knowledge to train their interns. Many can do the tasks of their job, but few have the background knowledge to explain the hows and whys of many best practices or rules of thumb. This alone would be bad, but often very, very bad information is passed on in this manner resulting in dangerous traditions and myths.
    • IT is rarely well organized from a business perspective and interns watching a department "make due" teaches very little of good practice.
    • IT decisions, planning, and ramifications are extremely long term so internships are often far too short to see the lifecycle of a project or decision play out.
    • IT in different organizations is so wildly different that experience from one is of little use to another.

    Thoughts? Ideas?



  • This is hilarious! @wirestyle22 and I were talking about something super close to this just this morning.

    A lot of people getting into IT don't ever learn the fundamentals, and lacking that don't really understand what they are doing, but instead only doing it that way because, well, it's always worked before.



  • @Dashrender said in Why IT Internships Often Fail:

    ...but instead only doing it that way because, well, it's always worked before.

    This is an easy trap to fall into, even if you do understand what is happening.



  • This came up before too, where I work, considering opening a position for an IT Intern.

    We decided not to, because it would be a waste of their time, and didn't think they would learn anything from it.

    This would be because they would be doing the stuff nobody else would be wanting to do... you know, here go do this 500 times because we don't have time to do it ourselves... or whatever, you get my point I think.

    It's not that we don't want to them to sit down with us, and we show and teach them all about being an IT systems architect or engineering... it's that we wouldn't have time to do it. We always joke about doing things in our spare time, because we don't have any lol. But we just can't afford to not do our own work to train an Intern and actively be involved in such a way they would benefit from it.



  • @Dashrender said in Why IT Internships Often Fail:

    This is hilarious! @wirestyle22 and I were talking about something super close to this just this morning.

    A lot of people getting into IT don't ever learn the fundamentals, and lacking that don't really understand what they are doing, but instead only doing it that way because, well, it's always worked before.

    It's a huge thing in our industry. I'm hoping that ML can be a place to tackle that. No one, anywhere, seems to be.



  • This is a place where getting CompTIA involved would be nice. @animal



  • @scottalanmiller said in Why IT Internships Often Fail:

    This is a place where getting CompTIA involved would be nice. @animal

    Have their exams improved recently? IE No more HDD RAID 5 and split arrays?



  • @travisdh1 said in Why IT Internships Often Fail:

    @scottalanmiller said in Why IT Internships Often Fail:

    This is a place where getting CompTIA involved would be nice. @animal

    Have their exams improved recently? IE No more HDD RAID 5 and split arrays?

    Have not seen one in a long time. What test had that? Their Network+ doesn't cover that stuff. Was that the Server+?



  • @scottalanmiller said in Why IT Internships Often Fail:

    @travisdh1 said in Why IT Internships Often Fail:

    @scottalanmiller said in Why IT Internships Often Fail:

    This is a place where getting CompTIA involved would be nice. @animal

    Have their exams improved recently? IE No more HDD RAID 5 and split arrays?

    Have not seen one in a long time. What test had that? Their Network+ doesn't cover that stuff. Was that the Server+?

    That was a long time ago for me, the late 90s when that sort of thing was an ok route to go, but I've heard of recent exams (past 3-4 years) haven't been updated on that front. Just the basic A+.



  • @travisdh1 said in Why IT Internships Often Fail:

    @scottalanmiller said in Why IT Internships Often Fail:

    @travisdh1 said in Why IT Internships Often Fail:

    @scottalanmiller said in Why IT Internships Often Fail:

    This is a place where getting CompTIA involved would be nice. @animal

    Have their exams improved recently? IE No more HDD RAID 5 and split arrays?

    Have not seen one in a long time. What test had that? Their Network+ doesn't cover that stuff. Was that the Server+?

    That was a long time ago for me, the late 90s when that sort of thing was an ok route to go, but I've heard of recent exams (past 3-4 years) haven't been updated on that front. Just the basic A+.

    Well the A+ is for a different industry so its accuracy for IT is of little concern.



  • Well as an intern, I see how busy everyone is, and im thankful for all of the time ive had to learn. Ive learned all these new concepts and ideas on how to do things.

    As for the internships failure (or the main purpose of the thread) I agree with what @scottalanmiller said, but only to a minimum, although IT people are busy, id be okay with homework (speaking from personal expirence) as well as the "face to face" or as "face to face" as you can get over a computer screen whenever possible. A lot of what interns deal with, is falling behind. And most will give up, however, maybe do a screenshare with the interns? Talk them through how youre fixing the problem or explain a concept to them while showing.



  • Right, William, but that's exactly what others are saying they don't have time for in an internship.



  • @WrCombs said in Why IT Internships Often Fail:

    And most will give up, however, maybe do a screenshare with the interns? Talk them through how youre fixing the problem or explain a concept to them while showing.

    That's a tough thing - partially because it always happens very quickly without warning, often screenshares cause their own headaches and it's rare that we don't multi-task. So watching troubleshooting might involve seeing .... nothing most of the time 🙂



  • @Dashrender said in Why IT Internships Often Fail:

    Right, William, but that's exactly what others are saying they don't have time for in an internship.

    It happens, id like to think that if you really want to do something you make time.



  • @scottalanmiller Although thats true, I think that internships should have a set person to mentor them (in some respects) and set aside a few hours a week or day, and work with interns and in the off time the interns would be better off reading, and doing "homework"



  • @WrCombs said in Why IT Internships Often Fail:

    @scottalanmiller Although thats true, I think that internships should have a set person to mentor them (in some respects) and set aside a few hours a week or day, and work with interns and in the off time the interns would be better off reading, and doing "homework"

    Homework assigned.


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