Developing empathetic leaders through internships—the internship scenario at SPJIMR

About the college: — “We are always trying to focus on developing leaders with character, integrity and empathy,” says Dr. M. L. Shrikanth, the Dean of SP Jain Institute of Management and Research. An autonomous management institute in Mumbai, this college was founded in 1981. It has constantly been ranked in the top ten B-schools of Mumbai and is among the top 20 in India. True to Dr. Shrikanth’s words, the themes of empathy and corporate social responsibility keep recurring in everything about the college, and most strikingly in their internship programs.

About the internships: — SPJIMR has a unique system of internships: during the summer, students intern in the non-profit sector; in the autumn, with corporate houses. Students participate in summer internships through the Development of Corporate Citizenship (DOCC) program, wherein they undertake a mandatory 6 week social project in different parts of India. The program was started in the hope that students could help NGOs and other such organisations with the management skills they learn in college. The Centre for DOCC has tie-ups with more than 200 NGOs, and has exposed students to developmental work happening at the grassroots level in the country.

What the Placement Committee has to say: — Abbasali Gabula, Deputy Director—External Relations and Administration, says:

Internships are a critical part of any MBA course since they provide a link to the real world. We at SPJIMR have 2 internships – one in the non-profit sector and the second one in the corporate sector.

My personal vote, of course, goes to the first. Working in socially and economically disadvantaged sections exposes students to hardships and hence instills in them the need to contribute to the society and makes them sensitive to the world which is underprivileged.

In the past years SPJIMR students have carried out approximately 1300 DOCC projects with more than 800 from NGOs, and with other funding organizations, corporate, government bodies. This arrangement attempts to bring NGOs and the corporate sector closer together, with SPJIMR acting as an intermediary.

What the students have to say: — Abhinandan Choudhury (PGDM Operations), talks about his internship experience under DOCC:

I worked at Aide-et-action in Assam. My job was to check the status of Village Development Committees (VDC) and find gaps in their functioning. Overall the experience of such a unique process was very enriching as I was exposed to such a community where guests were treated like God. Their willingness to change, adapt, learn and try different things for development has made me re-think if we the so called urban population is living life in the right spirit.

The most interesting internships: — The system makes for some really interesting internships. Students have worked in various sectors such as microfinance, betterment of transgenders, health and sanitation etc. Yatin Ahuja (PGDM Finance) interned with Center for Development Communication. As part of his project, he studied Solid Waste Management in Gujarat. He says:

Solid waste management (SWM) is costly and complex for local governments, but it is so essential to the health, environment, and quality of life of the people—in particular, the poor—that the government cannot afford to get it wrong. My NGO gave me the opportunity to work in this area. The six weeks were an overwhelming experience for me, wherein I travelled from Vadodara to 13 different villages, each with its own civilization and magnetism.

Autumn internships: — The DOCC program has not led to students missing out on more lucrative internships. Sonali admits that when the program was first started, it met with a lot of resistance. She says:

Students were unavailable for other internships during the summer. Many companies found it difficult to set apart different internship periods for SPJIMR students. However, now everyone sees the merit in the program, and now, some of the best organisations from around the world offer internships to SPJIMR students in the autumn (August-October).

Top recruiting organizations: — For these autumn internships, TAS, Microsoft, HUL, Pepsi, P&G, Nestle, Intel, J&J Consumer, Colgate, Palmolive, J&J Medical, Citibank, General Electric, HT Media, Flipkart, McKinsey, Britannia, Aditya Birla Group, HSBC, GSK, Reckitt Benckiser, JP Morgan, Miebach Consulting, JM Financial, O3 Capital, and Wipro Consulting recruit students. The list, we cannot help but observe, is impressive.

Autumn internship statistics:–

Average stipend: — Rs. 40,000 per month

Stipend range: — Rs. 30,000-1.2 lakh per month

Pre-placement offers: — 51.43% of the Class of 2012 received pre-placement offers and pre-placement interviews through their autumn internships at top corporate houses.

This long article in a nutshell: —  Students at SPJIMR intern with the non-profit sector in the summer and with corporate houses in the autumn. The system has sensitized students to the world beyond what they see every day, and has also helped NGOs to capitalize on the students’ management skills.

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