UCU advice for internships, work

Originally posted at: https://www.ugandapartners.org/2024/04/ucu-advice-for-internships-work/


For many university courses, students are expected to engage in  internships or have work placements as one requirement for the award of their degree. Pauline Luba of the UCU School of Journalism gleaned information from  some key university staff, an employer/alum and two students to learn how students should conduct themselves in the world of work, especially during internships.  UCU Law alum, Chris Mogal, created a video to reinforce the message, including how to avoid harrassment. 

Rev. Paul Wasswa Ssembiro
Rev. Paul Wasswa Ssembiro, university chaplain, UCU

I am the university chaplain at Uganda Christian University (UCU). I’m in my fifth year here in this position. Internships come with temptations, “predators” and things that could be dangerous to a student. However, when students go into the internship with strong values, they can always cope. Know the value you attach to yourself, and you need a solid character base from which to draw the values. At UCU, we give opportunities to students to grow spiritually. Once you join any workplace, make your stance clear. Speak back to whichever predator, and the good news is the predators know that what they are doing is wrong.


Frank Obonyo
Frank Obonyo, UCU alumnus, Senior Public Relations Officer at LDC

I am the Senior Public Relations Officer at the Law Development Center (LDC). From 2003 to 2006, I pursued a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication at UCU. The transition from student to work is really different. As a student, there are lots of dos and don’ts in the guidelines at school to help keep someone in check, but when you move out to the professional world, it is all about you, and so there is interconnectedness between the two. The professional life is informed by the student’s life. There is no disconnect between the two; how you handle yourself as a student will reflect professionally on how you also will live the working life. My transition was formed when I joined UCU. Some of the things that I learned seem to be small, but mean a lot in life. For example, things like worship are not in every university. But when I joined UCU, I felt my level of faith improved because of the opportunity, such as the worship hour every Tuesday and Thursday.  I am one of the people formulating the sexual harassment policy at LDC. If you know yourself, you will not give in. Alumni are a big force in change. They contribute to the reputation of an institution. So, we cannot leave them out. They can guide the students. We can invite alumni to speak to students on how they can be prepared to manage their life of work. 

Joel Tusiime Mwesigwa
Joel Tusiime Mwesigwa, 3rd year student of Bachelors of Law at UCU

I have been an intern at places such as Pearl Advocates — a law firm and Resilient Africa Network, a partnership of 20 African universities in 13 countries. Our university usually guides us on where to go for internships. The talks they give us also provide insights into what to expect at the internship. There are some principles we need to uphold in order not to cast the university in a bad light. I have never faced sexual harassment or discrimination at the workplace, and I pray that my peers never get to experience such. Students need to be God-fearing. The university could counsel students on how to keep safe at work. 

Margaret Kiwanuka
Margaret Kiwanuka, teacher, Quality Assurance Coordinator at UCU

UCU prides itself in professionalism and developing the character of students. We expect students to have integrity when they go to the workplace. We also expect our students to be diligent and to live by the core values we instilled in them. We expect them to serve others, and not to behave as if they are above everyone else. Servanthood and stewardship are some of the values we instil in them. They are also taught foundational courses that help them to conduct themselves out in the world. The university organises career affairs and invites several employers to speak to our students. In addition to this, UCU runs mentorship programs for the students. 

The programs equip students with tips and tricks to deal with issues like sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. In case of any harassment at the workplace, students need to identify who is harassing them and inform the authorities. 

Irene Nabwire
Irene Nabwire, university counsellor, UCU

At UCU, we offer several services that prepare students for internships and work placements. One of the key trainings that we have is the para counsellors training, where we discuss matters like the dos and don’ts in the world of work, as well as issues about sexual harassment. Students need to know the right steps to take in case of harassment. Harassment comes with a lot of consequences, including pregnancy. So, we try to “journey” with people who may find themselves in such situations. 

We also teach the students about emotional stability — when you go to a workplace, there are little things that can provoke someone, but once you are emotionally stable, you can respond, as well as execute your duties. 

Laetisha Asio Seth, student of Bachelor of Governance and International Relations, UCU

It’s advisable that one holds their values high when going into the world of work, for instance, being God-fearing, assertive, able to communicate and defend oneself. I advise that you just stay away from instances that could compromise you. 


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