“From a purely selfish perspective, interns come in handy to enhance seasonal workforce. From a broader perspective, it feels great to have some wide-eyed, curious interns around who are eager to learn. The biggest challenge is to find interns who are dedicated and getting the job done”, says Ashish Agrawal, founder at Scrappy Ventures Private Limited, and also an alumnus of Carnegie Melon University. Below are the excerpts of our chit-chat with Ashish..
Q.What is your philosophy behind having an internship programme at Scrappy Ventures?
Ans: Well, when I was young, I would have greatly appreciated an opportunity to intern with a company. Such kind of real-life work-experience can be hugely influential in shaping anyones career. We frequently have time-bound projects for which it does not make sense to employ a full-time person. In such an event, interns work out great because they are on the look-out for time-bound projects. So it is a win-win situation to have an internship programme.
Q. Have you ever done any important project in which interns played a critical role? Please elaborate.
Ans: Yes. We have used interns for some of our most critical aspects of the service that we offer through RoomLion.com and Anek360.com. Albeit we have had varying degrees of success in getting fruitful output from all of our interns.
Over time we have realized, that interns need much closer supervision and hand-holding than a full-time hire. There is a constant need to ensure that they remain focused on the end-goals and do not get complacent. Interns who take this feedback in the right spirit, find interning with us like a huge learning experience.
Q. While hiring interns, what are the skills/attributes that you look for in a candidate?
Ans: Dependability and accountability are two of the top-most attributes that we are looking for among candidates. In terms of skills, we like interns who have good communication skills and strong familiarity with web-technology.
Q. Have you ever made mistakes while hiring and ended up hiring totally wrong candidate(s)? What were those mistakes? And in your opinion, what are the common pain points of intern hiring?
Ans: We have made many mistakes while hiring interns. In one way they are the riskiest hires due to the short-term nature of their stint. After our first experience with interns we had to undergo a complete paradigm shift while hiring interns. Over time we have realized that it is very important to ensure interns a) understand the day-to-day job before we hire them, b) do not view us as a means to write a report or add a line to their resume, c) understand the time we will be investing in training them over a short period of time, d) understand that they will be representing our company to the outside world during the course of their internship.
Q. A message that would you like give to the companies/start-ups running internship programmes?
Ans: It is very important to account for management bandwidth while hiring interns for critical tasks. But interns can be a great way, particularly for start-ups, to achieve scale over a short-period of time and front-load efforts.
Q. What is your message to students who are looking for internships?
Ans: Do not search and replace information by copying your friend’s resume. Make yourself look different from other candidates. Research the company of interest to you and include a cover letter explaining the value you would bring to the team. Understand that this is a small world and try to build relationship rather than viewing interactions on a transactional basis.
The most important aspect is to try to add value to the company, which will help you write a good project report – rather than the other way round.
If you’re an employer and want to share your experience of running an internship programme, or want to hire interns for your own organization, drop a line at email@example.com. We’d love to hear from you.
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