It was the last week of March, 2006 during which our entire class was required to submit the name of the organization in which they were to take up an internship. I pursued my under graduate education from H. R. College of Commerce and Economics in Mumbai. I belonged to a specialized course – B.Com in Accounting and Finance, which was a course recently introduced by the University of Mumbai. An internship with an organization of one’s choice for the duration of two months is mandatory to be undertaken by all students. Since we were finance students we had the option of joining numerous chartered accountant firms or numerous corporate houses. Many students were in a dilemma of which firm to select. However, I was clear about my objective to work with an NGO since I wanted to work to gain knowledge as well as the satisfaction that I have worked for a noble cause and not just for money.
The previous year I had undertaken voluntary work for a branch of the multinational NGO United Way – United Way Mumbai. They are an NGO who disburse various resources, including finance, to numerous NGOs in the city who have registered with them. These resources are allocated as per the needs and projects undertaken by the NGO. On the other hand, United Way Mumbai develops unique techniques in order to raise funds for other NGOs as well as its own operations. They have also forged a strong network among numerous corporate houses and frequently carry out Employee Giving Programs and Payroll Giving Programs where the employees pledge a portion of their salary towards different NGOs pursuing various causes. I approached them for the internship and they warmly welcomed me to work with the United Way family, albeit for a short duration of 2 months.
My tenure with United Way Mumbai commenced on 22 March, 2006 as the Community Investment Executive and I informed them that very day that my stipend will be utilized for the project I work on. The construction of 100 permanent houses and a school in Nagapattinam district was the first project I worked on. The Tsunami that hit South India in the year 2004 was an undersea mega thrust earthquake that wiped out countless villages and livelihoods. United Way Mumbai’s objective was to restore normalcy in the area and provide all the 327 families with livelihood, houses, schools and other facilities. I was assigned the task to carry out a thorough due diligence and coordinate with few NGOs directly working on the project in the area. I was required to coordinate with each of their activities and audit the progress reports for each phase of on – site construction after which the funds for the same would be disbursed.
Our team also replaced 89 boats, nets and motors across 4 communities impacting the lives of 1308 people. I also got the opportunity to work with the team for generating funds for the NGO. I was assigned the task to contact and schedule meeting with the corporate houses like Citigroup, AIG, TATA AIG, Reuters, JP Morgan, Heinz India, Bates India, e-serve, Wyeth, and JWT in order to initiate partnerships on various community projects which require corporate funding. During this period I also attended one of the United Way Mumbai working committee meeting which was convened at the office of Mr. Sunil Mehta who was the chairman of AIG and the chairperson of the committee as well. I was given a very warm welcome by all the committee members and even involved in the decision making process despite the fact that I was only an intern. During the proceedings I observed that the entire committee was so dedicated and passionate towards each project undertaken by the NGO that it instilled in me immense pride to be associated with such an organization.
The ‘Computer pool’ project was another unique initiative undertaken by my team. It is a fact that corporate houses frequently purchase new computers in order to upgrade their technology and discard the old computers. Our team was commissioned to contact them and request to donate their obsolete computers to our NGO which we in turn allocate to numerous NGOs across the city. Besides finance, a computer is one of the chief resources required by NGOs in order to channelize their operations and thereby bring about overall efficiency in their procedures. The response towards this initiative was phenomenal considering we received 6 computers in the span of 2 days.
The Reuters Global Days of Caring was the last project spearheaded by me in the month of May. Our NGO had organized a week full of various activities like creative paper quilling and card making workshops which was attended by the employees of Reuters as well as children of other NGOs. During that week, a trip was organized to Tara Village located on the outskirts of Mumbai. The uniqueness of this village can be attributed to its self sufficiency, ranging from generation of its own electricity to cultivating their own vegetables. It was a fun filled day as well as a valuable learning experience for 100 employees of Reuters and the children from an NGO which supports the children of prostitutes in Mumbai.
My internship with United Way Mumbai drew to a close on 22 May, 2006. I will always cherish those memories of the two months I worked as an intern. It brought about awareness and sensitized me towards various social causes being pursued by NGOs as well as introduced me to the corporate world and its culture. During my tenure as an intern, work did not seem like work since I always believed I was working for a cause, which in turn encouraged me to go the extra mile for my organization.
FYI! You can view the latest Internships in Mumbai here.
Win prizes worth Rs. 50,000 by participating in the Your Internship Story Contest 2012. The competition ends on 31st August, 2012. Hurry!