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By Irene Best Nyapendi
The 11 undergraduate programs offered at Uganda Christian University (UCU) have classroom and hands-on learning opportunities. Students are especially encouraged to apply for internships that may be paid or unpaid and year-round or during the one of three semesters each year that students do not have classroom lectures. These experiences reinforce the meaning of studies and make graduates more employable.
Merick Wandera, BBA student
Merick Wandera, a UCU Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) student interning with the Uganda Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development, is among students reaping the advantages of applying his education in the context of the work world. He also recently was named the best intern among student workers at this government site.
“I am so glad that my internship was fruitful because after I emerged as the best intern student,” he said. “They advised me to consider going back there after graduation so that I can join their team.”
Wandera said he had a great internship experience and got new knowledge about governance and finance. He learned that the first role of the government is to provide services to the citizens and not to make profits.
“I used to wonder why the government continues to fund projects that didn’t produce any profit, but during my internship, I learnt that the government is after offering services and not making profits,” Wandera said.
As a result of the internship, he is more conversant with the process of formulating sound economic policies and accountability for public resources aimed at achieving a sustained economic growth and development for the country.
Kefa Senoga, Journalism student
Kefa Senoga, a third-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Communication, applauded one UCU lecturer for preparing him for his two internships – one with the New Vision newspaper and one with Uganda Partners.
“I am so grateful to Mr. John Semakula, the lecturer, who taught us how to shape and write an article with a capturing introduction, good middle and end, which made me stand out amidst other intern students at New Vision,” Senoga said, adding that his writing skill was reinforced during an Economics and Business Journalism class.
At New Vision, Uganda’s biggest media house, Senoga learned more than honing his writing skill. His biggest lesson was in time management. He discovered that at school, students are given ample time to write an article, yet in the newsroom, completion deadlines were shorter.
“At campus, we were given three weeks to submit our work, but at New Vision, I was given the same article and asked to hand it in in two hours. I had to be at New Vision at 8:00 a.m. every morning, dressed professionally and ready to take on assignments,” Senoga said.
Both for Uganda Partners and New Vision, Senoga learned to apply the rules of accuracy, balance, truth and objectivity. He discovered that not all stories written are published, but was fortunate and inspired that all of his did appear in the New Vision print newspaper during his internship.
To Sarah Thon Nyanachiek, a third-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work and Social Administration, a paid internship at Smile Again Africa Development Organization in Juba, South Sudan, gave her an added opportunity to build her career skills. She said she frequently applied the theoretical knowledge she learned from class, gained a clearer view of what it meant to be in the professional world and realized the importance of teamwork.
“I improved my communication skills by engaging with people from different walks of life since my profession is all about working with different communities,” Nyanachiek said. “During my internship, students and staff members from the agency worked together in the implementation of the project, and this increased our productivity,” she said. Where there was no cooperation, she suffered with heavy workloads as a result of others not delivering the tasks in time as required by the supervisor.
Doreen Nyakato, a third-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration, gained more skills on strategic planning and managing an organization’s finances during her internship with Ahumuza Child Development Center. Among her applied skills were putting vouchers in the system and paying fees using checks for this organization under the Bunyoro Kitara Diocese that looks after the vulnerable members of the community such as orphans and widows.
“Every day was a learning experience for me,” she said. “However, my major take away was the lessons I got from my office supervisor who taught me to better align an organization’s financial status to their goals and objectives.”