Says Rachita Dhutia who is a Human Resource associate at Teach For India and has been working with them for over 20 months now. She is sincere, intelligent and full of life. Talking to Internshala on Teach for India internships, she speaks about how and why attitude and the right skill set are important in an organization along with adapting to its culture.
IS- Apart from 2 years fellowships offered by Teach For India, what are the other internship programs? And how and when does one apply for them? What are the eligibility criteria?
Rachita- The fellowship is a totally different program. Our internships are opportunities for various people to join our teams as staff for different projects in the field of Development, Communications, Selections, Fund raising, Training institutes etc. An internship at the summer institute is a 5 week program held annually where in interns are taught different technical skills and work culture. Teach For India’s internships are around various teams. Jobs descriptions can be found on our career page on the site. The applicant has to go through an HR interview and then a selection by the specific team he has applied for. He or she should have completed eighteen years of age to be eligible to apply.
IS- What are the key points you look at while selecting an intern? How difficult and important is it to study a person in the process of selection?
Rachita- We look at a combination of organization fit and skills fit. By skill fit, I mean his role on the team using his analytical ability, excel operations, presentation skills, time management, communication skills and working in an independent environment. Also, the intern should be available for a minimum of two months. He or She should know about our long term theory for change. It isn’t very difficult but is of utmost importance that we study a candidate before selection. The intern roles at Teach For India are not typical and very different from those at corporate. There is a lot of research involved.
IS- In today’s fast-paced, career-oriented youth, what according to you is the magnet that pulls youngsters to apply for an internship such as this?
Rachita- The fact that both our staff and fellows are young graduates between age 20 and 35 is a major attraction. Our Fellows & staff bring in more people and so does our partnerships with colleges. The verity that our organization is young and youth involved is a major contributor. The project gives a better understanding of our work culture and what the movement is about. It is definitely more challenging to work in an entrepreneurial environment.
IS- What are your expectations from interns?
Rachita- We expect excellent projects and hope they meet objectives in the truest sense. A project assignment should be met end to end with meeting internal deadlines. In an entrepreneurial environment, there is always a sense of urgency. We have high expectations from all our interns and allow them to do their own independent research. Interns are also invested in the program that they refer many of their friends to join as well. Many interns are now part of full time staff as well.
IS- What is the major learning of interns apart from continual renewal of knowledge?
Rachita- Seeing a project end to end makes interns better organizers, planners and executioners. They understand the importance of building relationships. At an organizational level, they comprehend our core values. Major learning of an intern can be spotted in their testimonials to us. One such is: “I was very excited when I started my internship at Teach For India under the Communications Department, but mingled with the excitement was a lot of anxiety. I didn’t really know what to expect, but the team at Teach for India put me right at ease from the first day with their friendly attitude and warmth. Teach for India gave me the confidence to execute and complete a project by myself, which gave me a chance to get a better feel of the difference Teach for India is achieving. It’s really something else when you make your way through to one of the worst slums in Mumbai to reach a Teach for India classroom, and hear the kids there tell you about their dreams of becoming doctors and scientists, studying in IIT and Harvard! This internship has given me a lot of perspective into the education and social development frontier, and I know that one day, through Teach for India’s efforts and the efforts of others like them, one day each child will achieve an excellent education.”
IS- What is Teach for India‘s thought process and philosophy behind giving importance and focus to such internship program? Why does Teach for India make this investment?
Rachita- We invest youth in the movement by involving them into it. Teach for India believes in pushing the youth out of their comfort zones, exposing them to the reality of education. Teach For India is a start up, we need more hands to join in. The movement is expanding nationwide and we need the commitment of our youth to meet the vision. We tap the power of youth by living our core value ‘resourcefulness.’
IS- What kind of projects the interns are given to work on and what mentoring and guidance support is available?
Rachita- A lot of research and event based projects at the institute, impact measurement etc. These projects differ on the basis of which team they work on – Technical, HR, Development, Operations or any other. The intern is provided with guidance by the team head and the management.
IS- In your experience, what are top 3 common mistakes interns make during their internship which you would like to caution future aspiring interns against?
1. Before the interview process, interns tend to think it is NGO/ community work and do not take it seriously. They need to realize that it is a movement and it involves a lot of work.
2. Lack of knowledge on the program- This shows us how interested is the intern. They should definitely know our long term theory of change.
3. It’s not easy- Internship at Teach for India involves a lot of hardwork. We have high expectations of all our interns. There should be a lot of commitment after joining. And to be honest, Teach for India has seen some amazing commitment in the last year from its interns.