Inside an internship

Working for a few months in a company can be rewarding, provided the programme is designed to benefit both the company and the student
An internship programme should ensure that the interns benefit and get a chance to stand out<br />
An internship programme should ensure that the interns benefit and get a chance to stand out
An internship can be the perfect way to try out your dream job. But often it ends up being a tedious time spent pretending to look busy. If an internship programme is not designed well, it can result in the young intern being marooned in piles of research reports that don’t make sense, waiting to report to a boss who is too busy to attend to the lowly trainee. “Too many companies expect their interns to hit the ground running,” says Rishabh Gupta, co-founder of the Web portal Letsintern.com. “Companies don’t make their expectations clear. They give regular employees a few months before they expect them to prove themselves, but often interns are not even given a couple of weeks.”
And then there’s payment. Like a well-known IT woman executive who advertized for unpaid intern positions a few months ago, many companies think paying the bare minimum to interns is all right. “Many companies don’t pay much, and also there are often no systems for interns to claim reimbursement for legitimate expenses like travel that are incurred on the job,” says Gupta.
Yet, internships have their benefits. If designed well, an internship can be a great learning experience. A successful stint as an intern may land a student a job offer. For companies as well, internships are a great way to find talent, and try and hold on to it.
photoInterns with the team at Sokrati

For engineering student Sourav Kumar Patwari, who interned with Pune-based digital start-up Sokrati in January 2012, it was a good way to get into a field that excited him—data crunching. “I worked on a project on search engine optimization, learnt things from base level, worked with the sales team and the tech team as well as with clients,” says the 23-year-old. The biggest reward, however, came at the end of his four-month stint, when Sokrati made him an offer to return once he had completed his engineering degree at Pune’s Symbiosis Institute of Technology. Today, Patwari is a full-time employee and a mentor to an intern.

Anusha Bhushan, an MBA student at the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, who interned for two months earlier this year at consulting firmBain & Co. India Pvt. Ltd in Gurgaon, is as upbeat as Patwari on the benefits of interning at the right firm. “I had my hypothesis about consulting—I thought it was something that would suit me, the reason being I wanted variety in my work and I wanted to work across sectors and that’s exactly what I got,” says Bhushan, who is thrilled to have an offer to come back to full-time work at Bain. As many as 60% of Bain’s permanent hires have interned with the company before. The company selects summer interns after a rigorous hiring process.
We spoke to a cross section of interns about what drew them to their internships, and to the managers who have designed intern programmes. Here’s what they have to say about what is most important in internship programmes
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