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Unpaid Internships Are Part Of A Mexican Students’ Working Life

The experience adds real-world experience and sometimes, the offer of a job. 

Latin American universities demand their following graduates carry out internships — named servicio social (social service) or prácticas profesionales (professional practice) — in companies, working in something related to their bachelor’s degree.

If they don’t, they cannot graduate.

However, there is a downside: These internships are done over a semester and are unpaid. Despite this, it’s considered an important part of a young adult’s education.

“I believe the more involved students are in the work field, especially in one they may end up working, the better. They can put the theories they have learned during their courses into practice,” said Isabel Román Lagunes, a graduate in communications and media coordinator for a property maintenance company, SEMAGO, in Veracruz, Mexico. “It is good practice for the students, as long as they are well tutored, and the internship is correctly planned.”

Internships can help students find a place in the companies where they worked. (Christina Wocintechchat/Unsplash)

Also, students have the opportunity to get a formal job in the company where they did their internship.

“One of the strongest points of these internships is students know what the work entails and can carry it out after their internship ends. I have had great experiences with young people from the Universidad Veracruzana. They are responsible, proactive young people, with well-formulated plans of what they want to learn.

“When the internships are over, two out of three students begin working professionally,” said Román Lagunes.

The interns can apply everything they learned and develop new skills they could not have acquired in university classrooms.

“Before graduating from university, I did an internship at the Coparmex [Mexico’s Employer’s Confederation],” said Jonatan Esquivel Estrada, a human-resources employee from a pharmaceutical company and communications graduate from the Universidad Veracruzana.

“It helped me a lot. I work in a business sector that has a constant flow. I was an intern in communications and, just like my colleagues, was in charge of taking audios, photos, recording videos, and helping with the logistics of several events,” he said.

“Nowadays, I work in human resources, but the internship helped me gain the required experience to land this job. My internship boss was even one of my references, vouching for my work ethic.”

(Translated and edited by Mario Vázquez. Edited by Fern Siegel)

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