About the Author: Anub Geo Kurian from Christ University, Bangalore, shares his experience of a CSR internship where he delivered solutions to one problem after another and made a difference to the project.
I did my internship at Tata Global Beverages (TGB), Hebbal – Bangalore for a period of two months. It was an incredible experience right from the interview till the last day of my internship. I got the offer through my college placement team and was the only one to be selected for this internship from my college. They were looking for a CSR project assist, and my profile (including volunteering experience with an NGO) was tailor made for the project.
What I learned during two months internship at TGB was a wealth of exposure when compared with my previous two years work experience in corporate. My mentor was Chief Head (IR & CSR) for Tata Global Beverages, Mr Pratap Ramdas, who was a great person to work with. My project topic was “To create visibility for Tata initiatives in supporting NGO -Unnati which trains underprivileged youth”. Initially, I thought the project was to market and publicise CSR activities of Tata, but my mentor clarified it not to be the case. His ask was that whatever I do to create visibility for Tata, should also benefit the NGO and the underprivileged youth of the nation. And this was the real essence of the project – to chalk out strategies which would meet the objectives of all the stakeholders.
Unnati (www.unnatiblr.org) is an NGO which trains underprivileged youth for 50 days in vocations like Retail and BPO, and places them in jobs in different corporates. TGB had partnered with them to fund their initiatives in transforming the youth. However, despite all the efforts, very few students knew of TGB’s involvement in the project. To address this, I came up with a plan for volunteering platform where I created a set of topics (from Unnati syllabus) that were relevant to the training for underprivileged youth and for which the sessions could be delivered by TGB employees (Example : Marketing employee from TGB can handle session for retail students). Through this, a direct exposure for TGB and its employees with the Unnati student community was made possible which resulted in great direct visibility.
Another problem which I identified was that Unnati still followed traditional methods of teaching. Handling 35 centres across India with their training and placement was a tough & time consuming task. Using my skills of professional photography, I helped them in creating an online platform for learning. I split each training module into topics and covered the video of trainer delivering the same. Soon after the successful implementation of this project, the placement head approached me and I devised the same solution for grooming the students across India for placements using pre-recorded videos which cut short the need for placement head’s Skype chat with each centre that took many days. The same strategy was used for training the trainers also. Now you may think, I was working hard for Unnati and overlooked TGB’s need for visibility. NO! In all these videos that I made, I tagged small video clips of TGB as well which ensured that every single student or trainer watching these videos will know of TGB’s involvement in the initiative.
Another issue they were facing was of outreach in villages to get the students from there. Unnati volunteers and trainers found it very hard to convince the parents in villages to send their wards to Unnati centre for training. People were indifferent and unfriendly, and hence the task of outreach was not effectively delivered. For this, I suggested to create an outreach module, which every trainer can use while they go for outreach in respective states. For this again my videography skill helped me, I interviewed successful Unnati alumni who were doing good jobs now. The interviews were taken in their local languages and this content was included in the module and at the end we were able to get testimonials in 9 languages. This really helped volunteers in convincing rural folks better. These videos were also used for marketing and publicity of Unnati on the internet and other medias. These videos also carried TGB branding which created visibility even into the core community where they were working for change. Another problem was the high attrition rates among the students placed at jobs which lead to draining away of funds and efforts of TGB. I did a small survey among 2013 batch Unnati students and the results were embarrassing showing that more than 50% of students switched their jobs within 3 months for trivial reasons. Students also complained that there was no support from either TGB or Unnati after they got placed. Since they come from the rural and the underprivileged background, adapting to corporate culture was a problem which led to quitting one’s job for small issues like ‘boss shouting’. I thought there should be a permanent solution to this and came up with the master piece of my internship – Alumni Mentorship Platform for recently placed Unnati students to be mentored by Unnati alumni who were into the job for continuously more than one year. The unique thing was that we were able to allot mentors according to students’ native places & local languages which made student open up more about work place issues and get advice. This platform has helped Unnati in creating a strong alumni connect, which in-turn can help them to get more students for training. The system was successfully implemented with the help of trainers and alumni after two months of hard work, and as an achievement TGB CSR head came and inaugurated the Alumni Mentorship program at Unnati.
In conclusion, I would like to say that an internship should not be just for the name sake. It should be proper delivery of assigned duties with efforts and dedication and if you do that, you will witness miracles. You have to brainstorm and think out of the box to arrive at some new creative ideas to solve business problems. I think all my internship deliverables added value and benefited both my stake holders – Tata Global Beverages and Unnati students. For me, this internship was a tedious tough journey of 60 days where I worked day and night, and the gratification which came at the end of my journey was tremendous and delightful. Thank you .
Editor’s Note – Like Anub, if you are looking for a meaningful internship that counts, check out these internships on Internshala.