Making money on the side
Smart students are filling the gaps by taking up internships
Yash Jain has all the trappings of a college student: confidence when he speaks, a swagger in his walk, and a general sense of restlessness. But the first year B.Com student at Delhi’s Kirori Mal College has a serious side too; he doesn’t shirk away from working as an intern to make some money. “Staying as a paying guest in Delhi comes with its share of costs and I can’t keep asking my parents for money,” he says, smiling. Jain is among the many students who have been looking up for internships that pay them for the work assigned. It never substitutes their regular expenses, but largely fills in for a few luxuries that money can buy.
With vacations round the corner, the scurry to get an internship is palpable. It is not just the big companies that look for interns; practically every small and medium company looks for youngsters who are enthusiastic and energetic. There are also cost benefits of interns, but what makes them a draw for small and medium companies is to invest less on existing resources to test out new projects and initiatives which are still on the drawing board stage. The big organisations, however, look to tap future leaders early on and fast-track them to the big league.
Unlike a few years ago when internships were more an excuse to spend vacation time doing something meaningful and earning some money, these days, students look for internships to gain experience and also benefit from the money that they can get from them.
“I am not being paid, but I wanted some real experience in an area of interest, which has a lot more in return for me than what my regular college education can impart,” says 19-year old Pratistha Patel. She is interested in an MBA in human resources and thinks her internship with an international company in the same space will give her an insight into what it is likely to be when she actually gets the job.
To make things easy for both students looking for internships and corporate entities looking for interns, many internship platforms have mushroomed. Letsintern, Youth4work and Internshala are some of the popular online listing websites which do the match-making.
Says Sarvesh Agrawal, founder & CEO Internshala, “We are a one-stop destination for students looking for amazing internships and companies looking to hire smart interns.” His venture has 200,000 registered users and he has partnered with 10,000 corporate clients who have a ready pool of students to look up to for jobs and internships.
Rishabh Gupta, co-founder and CEO, LetsIntern, says: “We are like LinkedIn-meets-Monster.com for a college student, where students can create a public profile and also have access to highly customised feeds, which connect them to internships, jobs, content and courses.” For corporates, these platforms are a repository of available candidates whom they can filter based on their needs. There is convenient for them with details of applicants available to them. It is for this reason that placement cells of several colleges have started working closely with these platforms as they complement each other.
Being an intern can be a tricky business. You want to seem keen, assertive and willing, but at the same time you don’t want the company to take you for a ride. While several companies could make it seem a very big an offer to work free for them, make sure you do not get sucked by such sweet talk, unless you really see some value in it; Patel’s case being an example.
Also, try to pick up as many skills as you can, ask questions, get involved as much as possible, and be prepared to do extra work to display your enthusiasm.
In lots of cases, internships are almost like an extended interview— sort of trial run. If this is the case, you need to be open to helping out with whatever aspects you are asked to contribute to, and be constantly coming up with ideas. If you get some of the less exciting jobs, don’t worry—we all have to do a bit of that at some point in our lives.
That said, remember, that often, internship is a stepping stone to being employed by the same organisation. What is also driving students to internships is the emergence of several start-ups. The trend is such that everyone wants to do what a Steve Jobs or a Bill Gates did when they were young. Of course, in the West many intern when still in school. Indian college students, though, are inspired by the career paths of many such icons and are conscious about the kind of internships they take up. “Initially I was looking for internships as a way to supplement pocket money, but later realised that it makes sense to pursue interests which can become a career later,” says 22-year-old Deep Nagpal, who is doing his masters from Delhi School of Economics.
The online platforms, too, have understood the importance of offering internships in their own venture for one to get some exposure. For instance, Internshala’s own business apprentice program, which is a six-month program offered to select few, is to identify and groom future leaders and attract over 300 application who fiercely compete to get a spot. True, one will come across companies out to exploit students, but there are also those which genuinely want to give students a good insight into their chosen career, and so, look out for graduates with real skills in their chosen field.
So, which are the top internship categories? The popular ones are content writing, digital marketing, software programming, design and, being campus representatives. All these are very youth-friendly industries, and young people add a lot in these industries with their fresh approaches, enthusiasm and exposure to the latest tools; in many cases working better than their established peers.
Realise your potential, hone your skills and don’t fall for the unpaid internship trap. Make the most of the summer, earn as you learn a new skill and use the experience to device a career path for yourself, inline with your aspirations.
Yash Jain, 18 B.Com from Kirori Mal College, University of Delhi
I am in the first year of B.Com. Along with it, I am also pursuing a course in Actuarial Sciences, as mathematics and statistics has always fascinated me. I was keen on doing an internship to gain experience in writing and also form an opinion in subjects that interest me. As an outstation student living in Delhi, you learn fast to be self-reliant and get wiser with the ways of life.
The takeaway for me from the internship was to get focused with my writing and learn to synchronise my thoughts and my words. Besides, working with others gave me the necessary exposure to working in groups, brainstorming, discussing new ideas and, learning on the job. I feel this experience has made me a better writer, which will help me in future.
Moreover, the experience provided me with a glimpse of the corporate world, which is a valuable experience for someone like me who is just about starting with higher studies. Unlike many of my friends who would sleep or be couch potatoes, the two-month internship during vacations has been a fulfilling experience, which I am looking forward to in the future as well. So far, my experience has been that one should select an internship based on one’s abilities, because managing it along with regular studies can get difficult to manage.
Pratistha Patel, 19 B.Com from Shri Ram College of Commerce, University of Delhi
I am from Dehradun and living away from home has never been easy. I took up an internship project with Global Outsourcing Team, a company in the CzechRepublic, as I am interested in human resources (HR).
As an HR Research intern, I was asked to make salary and payroll calculators, research on Income Tax, Employee Contribution and Social Security Service. I am glad I undertook this project because it helped me understand the concept and role of HR in organisations in a much better way.
I also learnt about new skills like time management, especially as I was on an online internship that was linked to the Czech Republic timings; I had to juggle between my college classes and work.
Although I have been using MS Office for sometime now, the usage increased during the internship. I also learned about new tools and techniques I was previously unaware of. I had never worked in a team before, so, it was nice to know what teamwork is all about.
I did not get any money for the internship, but on completion of the internship, I will get a paid trip to the Czech Republic from the company, which is definitely a lot more than earning money.
Also, I wish to pursue an MBA in human resources and this experience is just the right ingredient for me to explore more.
As this is not the last of my internship, I am hoping for more exposure in the HR space to align my internship experience with my future career goals.
Deep Nagpal, 22 Masters at Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi
I have done my graduation in Economics from RamjasCollege and have been taking up internship assignments from time to time. Being from Meerut and living as a day-scholar in Delhi is not easy.
In the past, I did an internship with Dell Global Analytics, Dell Bangalore. My prime motive for joining the internship was to gain some practical experience, a good corporate exposure, as well as an efficient utilisation of my summer vacations.
At Dell Global Analytics, I undertook a project which involved application of data mining technique. The other was linked to the confidence interval estimation. The team I worked for was very cordial and cooperative. The experience honed my analytical and soft skills, too, as it involved a lot of interaction with different corporates, presentations, as well as writing a white paper. It was a perfect balance of work and fun.
I realised that instead of blindly taking up an internship, one must look to develop their interest areas and then match it to the available internships. There are several portals that offer internships and it is easy to look for one that matches one’s needs. The biggest lesson from internships is that it teaches a lot more than the theoretical lessons one learns in college. I feel these internships are actually like a short term exposure to the actual world where you will be working, and the more diversified you are in your skills, the more you are in demand.