For students, internships provide the much-needed exposure to the industry and hands-on work experience, combined with mentoring from an expert. For the industry, interns could become their prospective employees if they are utilized well by tapping their energy and enthusiasm to learn and grow. In this Skill Talk, Sarvesh Agrawal, Founder – CEO, Internshala, tells us how the students and the industry form the core of the unique internship platform that is changing the perceptions towards jobs and careers among youth.
For a long time, internships remained inaccessible to many students in India and it was happening in a very ad hoc manner. People were not aware of the opportunities and it was not taken seriously, so I started blogging around the topics of interning and publishing success stories of people about how internship changed their life. That’s how Internshala was born! Since most of the students get influenced by their peers, we started sharing stories about how internship influenced their careers and that’s when students took notice.
Our growth has been exponential in the last 6 years; initially, in the first 2 years there were 5000 users on our platform and today the number has risen dramatically. In 2011, we had posted a total of 1900 internships for the entire year today the number is 2,65,000 per year so the growth is 1500% and also the number of opportunities offered on the platform and internships published on the platform get talented candidates.
Startups are building the culture of internships in India
Today, the number of people who are exploring internships has risen sharply. Internship is more like dating than marriage. The non-committal aspect of internship attracts the present generation since like to explore and try new things before decision on long term plans. Internships have also become desirable since they give an edge over other students and help in being really sure about what they want their careers.
At the same time, this demand is sustained by the evolving startup ecosystem. Earlier, students were interested in internships but there weren’t many opportunities as there were few companies that would take interns. By 2010- 2011, startups created many jobs where interns were considered to be the best choice as they could get decent work done in a cost-effective manner. The students got a chance to get industry exposure and real work scenario outside the classroom.
Need for awareness about vocational courses among youth
We need to create awareness among student community that skilled workforce earn lot more than the other professionals. Till now, our focus has been on skilling for white-collar jobs with little knowledge about the initiatives that are taking place in the blue-collar sector. Carpenters, plumbers, electricians, construction workers, painters, chefs and nurses have great potential to grow if they are skilled. Their work needs professional finishing and this poses a bigger challenge since the sector is unorganized than skilling for graduates and post graduates.
Unlike in other countries where skilled workers are properly trained and use latest tools and technology, India has a long way to go in and we cannot progress unless our crafts persons and workers are skilled as per current job requirements and technologies. And since there’s no awareness about skilled jobs, many college students remain aimless after completing their studies and get influenced by the social stigma attached to these jobs.
There are many issues with formal education and it leads many students nowhere, where as vocational careers offer better opportunities. With right incentives and right awareness, we can make a change. Look at the way Ola and Uber cabs have made it aspirational to take up driving as a profession. When more jobs get generated in the informal sector it also unload the burden on the formal sector for recruiting so many graduates. Hence, I feel there’s a need for reverse drain that should happen from formal education to the vocational sector and I would be interested in exploring how Internshala can help in this regard.
In fact, skilled careers could be more satisfying than routine jobs since they give an opportunity to use inborn talent and interest that could be joyful and satisfying as well as financially rewarding! So we need to inform the students about alternate careers through role models and success stories.
Trends in internships and growth plan for Internshala
The top five industry profiles that hire 75% interns are all from the services sector: the jobs pertain to Web Design and Mobile Application Development, Sales and Marketing across industry vertical, Graphic Design, Content Writing and Digital Marketing. Other than these top five there are opportunities for Manufacturing, Product development, Accounting, Finance and HR.
First, our plan is to see growth in terms of verticals like Architecture, Fashion Designing, Hospitality. We are also looking at short-term opportunities for internship while the students are in the college and work more like apprentices. Second, we would like to see deeper penetration in tier two cities to promote the culture of internships. Today internships are more a Metro phenomenon and we want to reach the degree colleges in smaller cities and expand scope beyond professional colleges. We want them to use internship as a career building too.
Promoting Summer jobs
This should be inculcated from high school days. For example, working in a fast food chain or a restaurant or a retail supermarket should be seen as a learning experience. Because of certain social barriers, college students may not take up Summer jobs, whereas the high school students can go for such things to build more confidence, interact with people and learn by doing.
These jobs help the youth in building professional skills, dignity of work, customer relationship and other aspects of business. The skills developed through summer schools are applicable later in whatever you do in your professional life so the summer jobs are meant for experiencing the world and they not necessarily a signal for your carrier.
I would be interested in signing up with a fast food joint and try it out for college students and see the response from the community. Our college education is so elitist and we don’t talk about dignity of labour; this would be a great way to inculcate values in the younger student.