On-the-job Training on a Virtual Platform

FEU Advocate
July 31, 2021 09:05

By Rafa Jane Galeon

Do not turn that computer off just yet, bid the sweet, summer sun farewell, and wave those beaches goodbye. Your vacation days might take a while because your training is about to start.

Summer is about to end and so are the long days of students who have been spending their vacation days staring at the computer, doing tasks, and gaining experience through the use of the online platform for their on-the-job training (OJT) this Midyear Term, so they might still have to wait a little longer before they can enjoy their quick vacations before the classes start.

Last April 2021, Far Eastern University’s (FEU) enrollment page announced the dates for the online classes and OJTs that will be held online instead of doing the traditional face-to-face experience this summer.

The reason for this was because FEU followed the decisions of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) about internships this year. According to the official statement from CHED, they will have to suspend any face-to-face internship nor any clinical clerkship rotation in the National Capital Region (NCR) due to the rising cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The news about internships in an online setup has brought mixed emotions for the Tamaraw students, especially for those who were about to have their internships this midyear term.

Reina Kesia Borja, a third-year Language and Literature student said that she was worried when she first found out about having an online internship since she barely learned anything during the previous semester of online classes. “I thought, ‘How much worse it’d be in an online OJT?’”, she added.

“Shocked and disappointed,” as what the third-year Medical Technology (MedTech) student, Justine Gail Rosario described her reaction to the news. “Shocked because as a med-allied student I was flabbergasted on how all this would work. Disappointed because I know that we would not get the good educational experience despite the very expensive tuition,” she further explained.

On the other hand, a third-year Psychology student, Vhea Bartolome said that she was not surprised about the University requiring the students to take their internships online because of the current pandemic.

However, she felt “a bit sad” about it. “It was one of the things that I looked forward to when I was still a freshman and I feel like I missed out on that,” she added.

Given the country's current situation, an online internship seems inevitable, causing disappointment among these students due to the limited experience since being able to experience their first-ever OJT’s face-to-face is vastly different from experiencing it online. However, as students who are entirely new to the whole internship experience, it is normal to have high hopes from it.

A Taste of the Online Training

Borja said that she expected to have “proper training” since that is the main purpose of internships. “Despite the current situation, and even though it’s only online, I still wished to have everything done as though we’re in an actual workspace. Meaning to say, that I’d be trained very well regardless of hindrances,” she explained.

Moreover, Rosario also said that her experience with the online internship so far was “nothing special.” She also added, “I am having a hard time since laboratory skills and patient encounters are hard to visualize, and make it seem theoretical.”

“At first, I was not happy about the idea of taking two internships simultaneously but later on, I realized that I can manage and maximize my time efficiently,” Bartolome said when asked about how she felt with the entirety of her online internship experience.

Furthermore, she said that she enjoyed her experience being an in-house intern because it did not feel like she was just taking an online class and that she also learned a lot from her supervisors.

Due to this experience, she believed that she was able to get the training she expected despite being an in-house intern, thanks to the comprehensive program that was offered to them. She also added that this experience did cover the tasks that she will eventually encounter when she finally starts working.

Most of these students collectively said that the online internship did not provide them with any new information, but some of them did get a grasp on how to deal with things that are related to their field of work in the future.

Struggles that Comes with the Online Internship

Borja shared that it was difficult for her to raise concerns to her supervisor in an online setup since she only met them once. She said that all she could do was send them a text or an email about it.

Aside from that, she also explained that she encountered difficulty in understanding the client’s texts due to their “terrible construction”, which frustrated her.

She explained that her way of handling these challenges was to try her best to be as formal as possible in speaking with higher authority and she said that she took necessary breaks to avoid getting suffocated from stress.

Bartolome, on the other hand, had difficulties with the internet connection since she had a slow internet connection at home, and the rainy weather worsened the situation by making it more difficult for her to complete some of her tasks.

She was able to cope with these challenges by always having an extra emergency load on her sim, in case she encounters network issues or power blackouts, she will still be able to complete her tasks using her data as an alternative.

In Rosario’s case, she expressed that the challenge that she encountered in her online internship was the limited experience, but she was able to cope with it by sharing these issues and venting out with her classmates who also share the same problems as her.

Advice from the Third-Years

When asked about any tips for the incoming third-year students, Bartolome came up with three pieces of advice. The first one is to consider your department’s in-house internship program if it is being offered because it may be a better option for you.

The second one is about validating your feelings. “It’s okay to feel sad or disappointed about not getting the chance to experience the face-to-face internship but understand that it is for your own safety,” she explained.

Lastly, she advises students to “make the most out of everything in your online internship. It is a great opportunity to learn, develop your skills, and collaborate with different people.”

For the incoming third-year MedTech students, Rosario’s advice is to study all the theories as much as possible and to watch YouTube study lessons to understand them better.

While Borja’s advice is to “take the pros and cons of online OJT into consideration”, make friends with their fellow trainees as she said, “having friends is really helpful especially when it gets hard and frustrating at work.”

Taking your internship online still has some benefits that you can take advantage of. However, being able to get the training that you deserve from interning face-to-face is a whole different experience—one might even say it is unforgettable.

You do not need to put any pressure on yourself, the choice of whether to complete your internship online or in person is entirely up to you. Because this is not a race or a competition, taking a break is perfectly acceptable because you can always  carry on with your internship next year.

But, at the end of the day, you will still get something good out of it—virtually or not, the more important thing is you strive to learn and do better, you continue to pursue your goals and education no matter the situation.

Just like what Borja said, “if they think it is not worthwhile anymore, it is crucial that they keep in mind why they are doing it in the first place.”

(Illustration by Mary Vel Custodio/FEU Advocate)