How we successfully manage 300 interns every year

How we successfully manage 300 interns every year (2)About the Author: Anupama Muhuri works as a senior manager with CRY – Child Rights and You in the Volunteer Action Department. She provides insightful details about CRY’s internship programme and how they manage almost 300 interns every year.

CRY believes that every person has a role to play in building the world where child rights are a reality for all children. Internships are a part of our Volunteer Action programme and are designed to offer exposure to students and working professionals from varied academic and professional backgrounds. The design of an internship depends on both the interest and skill areas of the interns as well as the requirements of the organization.

Our interns are involved in working on various child rights issues such as child labor, education, health, and other issues related to human and child rights. They get a chance to explore and contribute to important tasks like public mobilization, fact-finding researches, field exposures and documentation etc. They also pilot run project ideas, learn the ropes of HR, organize events, and rope in media advocacy skills.

Every year, we receive scores of application from young people desiring to take up CRY internship. On an average, we onboard around 300 interns. The programme is based out of our five CRY offices in Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi. At times, we open up some online internship assignments too. We also select a few motivated foreign interns for customized assignments.

Given a huge number of applications we receive every year, they are channelized region wise right in the beginning. The applicant fills up the location preference and it reaches the concerned team directly. It minimizes the processing time and within 5 working days, they receive a response on the status of their application. Shortlisted candidates are invited for a telephonic interview in which their competency and attitude fit is assessed and we take a final call on their selection. On formal joining, they are given a comprehensive orientation on CRY and its work with special emphasis on our approach and the principles & values we are guided by. What follows is a full-time engagement of minimum 4 weeks.

A few interns do not manage to formally join or are required to drop out due to varied reasons. This upsets our plan and so, to keep such occurrences to the minimal, our pre-internship assessments are done with as much care and probing into minor details so that we pick only those who are fully sure and committed to taking up an internship and do justice to the opportunity. To encourage learning cum fun, we make sure to give each intern an exposure and opportunity to be themselves, absorb realities and perspectives in an uninhibited environment, offer solutions and support to real time and real life issues, give their best in full collective spirit and yes, go back having made a lot of friends too!

While the environment is friendly and one which gives interns a lot of space, we do ensure that the work is seen in all its seriousness. A fine balance is struck between flexibility and goal orientation. Mentoring is a very important aspect of the programme. Every intern has a mentor who guides them through the course of this internship journey. Hence, there are hardly any cases where we do not end up being happy with their work outcomes!

The key reasons behind the success of our programme every year are as follows:
• We choose those who are most keen to learn and contribute: Our selection process, which involves application screening, telephonic interviews, checking earlier work, and faculty recommendations, makes sure that we are as close to getting the right interns as possible.

• We give interns a holistic experience: The main agenda is not just to finish an assignment and get a high score but to provide them lifetime learning, a sensitive and sensible world view, and opportunities to acquire or hone up skills which will be useful in their professional life.

• We are very youth-centric organization: Our work culture promotes good laughter, a lot of group activities, exciting challenges, and hearty encouragement to make mistakes and learn. Volunteers and interns are not mere add-ons to our work but lie at the heart of our being.

• Our certificates are held in high esteem in the outside world: Many of our interns get renewed focus on their career choices and life decisions post CRY internship and our letters and recommendations for those who really do well prove to be a boon for their future.

Anyone above the age of 18 years can apply. The experience throughout this journey ensures that, after the stint, every intern goes back as a child rights champion!

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