A study of graduate interns reveals four factors that influence the employability of youngsters trying to gain entry into the world of work.
The question of why some unemployed graduates do well in an internship programme and are eventually employed by the company while others fail to make the grade has preoccupied Dan Ellappa’s mind for some time.
Having had extensive experience in the IT sector before being accredited as a transformational meta-coach, Ellappa undertook a quantitative study into the impact of mentoring on the employability of graduates in the IT sector in South Africa.
The results suggest that four elements critically affect the employability of graduates in the IT sector and these are: communication style, feedback, political savvy and duration of the mentoring relationship.
• Communication style of the mentor plays a crucial part. Is the mentor/manager’s style of communication telling or asking? In other words does the mentor/manager tell the graduate what to do or does he seek out the intern’s opinion on what action to take on particular tasks.
• Feedback – is the mentor direct, honest and authentic in giving feedback to the intern? Is the feedback specific to the intern in terms of highlighting the gap between the graduate’s skills and behaviour and what is expected?
• Political savvy – does the mentor advise the graduate on who not to associate with within the company? An individual’s success within a firm often has a lot to do with whom they align themselves with. Should an intern affiliate with someone who is perceived as toxic, that could hamper their chances of employment.
• Duration – the length of the mentorship relationship also has a bearing on the employability of the graduate – the longer the period, the better the chances of placement, Ellappa found.
The graduate interns, on the other hand, thought the following factors were important for employability: Understanding workplace culture, working within a team, working to deadlines, active listening, problem solving and IT skills.
Interns also reported not receiving the following skills that they deemed important for employability. These were: commercial awareness, taking a global outlook, managing a project, enterprising thinking, responding positively to failure and leading a project.
To see the recommendations on what factors to consider when setting up a mentorship programme, visit: www.pendukaconsulting.co.za