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How students can make the most of summer internships

Internships are no longer just a way to fill holiday breaks. They help students get a foothold in the job market and even earn a handsome stipend.

, ET Bureau|
May 13, 2019, 06.30 AM IST
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Apart from money, industry exposure and skills accrued are also useful for professional growth.
During the summer break of 2016, college student Phalitha Ashok decided to put her public speaking skills to use to earn some money. She took up a paid internship with an event management company. Today, compering is her part-time job. “I meet all my regular expenses with my side job. Being able to do this as a student gives me immense joy,” says the Bengaluru-based law student.

While Ashok may be one of her kind, many students are increasingly looking at paid internships and part-time jobs to supplement their pocket money. Online platforms that connect students and companies for internship opportunities say paid opportunities have more takers.

“On our platform, internships with higher stipends receive more applications. This shows that stipend matters to students when they are choosing an internship,” says Sarvesh Agrawal, Founder and CEO, Internshala.

Phalitha-Ashok
In Pic: Phalitha Ashok 22, Bengaluru
Law student, Part-time Master of Ceremonies
Internship experience: Interned in an event management company for two months in 2016
Stipend: Rs 5,000 per month from the internship. Earns Rs 15,000 per month from freelance compering assignments
How she gained: Discovered her passion for compering. Now does 3-4 assignments every month during weekends

Money and more
Unpaid internships are almost a thing of the past. Companies see much value in the new perspective that interns bring to their business and hence compensate them fairly for their work. “We gain tremendously from the fresh perspectives of an outsider to the problems we are solving,” says Sumit Gupta, Partner and Director, Recruitment Chair, Boston Consulting Group.

Experts say students should shy away from unpaid internships unless they want to volunteer for non-profit organisations. That said, a high stipend should not be the only deciding factor. “Sometimes students choose lower paying internship if it aligns with their career goals,” says Agrawal.



Anasuya Borah, an MA student, will work as a research associate under a professor in Andaman for no stipend. “I’m excited as it will help me learn about data collection on the ground. I don’t mind not getting paid as my lodging and commute will be taken care of,” she says.

Anasuya-Borah
In Pic: Anasuya Borah 21, Delhi
Pursuing Master’s in Environment and Development
Internship experience: Teach for India, Kitaab club (non-profits)
Stipend: Nil
How she gained: Helped her get accepted in Cambridge Unversity and University of Sussex

In Bengaluru, Deepita Pai settled for a low paying internship in a big analytics firm because the company was the only one offering work in her area of interest. “The stipend was much less than what my friends were getting at other places. But real life work experience was my priority,” says the engineering graduate. Her decision paid-off as she got a pre-placement offer (PPO) from the same company.

For companies, converting interns into employees helps them to get someone who is used to their set up. “Working with interns closely for about 10 weeks helps us gauge their fitment more effectively compared to campus interviews, which do not last for more than one and a half hours,” says Gupta. Just as students get to learn about the business and work, companies get a chance to identify future employees. “It’s a win-win situation for both,” adds Gupta.

Deepita-Rai
In Pic: Deepita Pai, 22, Bengaluru
B.Tech Graduate
Internship experience: Data science intern for two months in an analytics firm
Stipend: Rs 15,000 per month
How she gained: Received a pre-placement offer from the same company. Stipend helped cover her expenses during her stay in Mumbai

Find your calling
The obvious next step for students is to pursue an internship that matches the course they have done. However, this pattern is changing as students view it as an opportunity to try out different career fields. “Internship is crucial for a student to figure out whether a particular industry and role excites him,” says Devashish Chakravarty, Founder and CEO, QuezX.com.

Teaching internships with two non-profit organisations during her graduation helped Borah realise what she wanted to do. “I became clear that I wanted to pursue an academic career,” says the 21-year-old.

Some can also find their true calling through the experience. Take the case of Ashok, who wants to build a career in compering after completing college. “What started off as a weekend job has become a passion for me,” says the final year student.

Shape your career
Apart from money, industry exposure and skills accrued are also useful for professional growth. “I worked on a challenging project, learned good coding practices and handled realistic projects, unlike dummy projects in college. It was a truly enriching experience,” recounts Pai. It also helped her kick-start her career by getting employed in the same company.

This is probably the reason why students no longer look at internships only as an excuse to stay productive during summer vacations. In fact, most master’s programmes have made internships mandatory in the curriculum. While that may not be the case with undergraduate courses yet, students with internship experience on their resume stand to land better jobs or more prestigious colleges for higher education.

For instance, Borah’s volunteer work with non-profits helped her get accepted in Cambridge and Sussex university. “International universities lay a lot of importance on volunteer work with non-profits,” she says. Borah is currently pursuing her Master’s in Delhi.
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