The expert in anything was once a beginner. Neha is pursuing MBA and shares her wonderful experience of internship days.
I started my work in Akshaya Patra with the expectation of being my supervisor’s personal assistant. I thought I would be carrying out menial chores and editing her emails and reports. I did so much more.
In the brief period of thirty days, I had not only supervised and guided corporate tours of TAPF’s kitchens, helped with TAPF’s scholarship activities, came up with and organized rice-themed activities for Société Générale’s CSR activity, but I had also created and run a full-blown fundraising campaign in international schools all over Bangalore, spread the word about TAPF’s Hunger Ki Bajao campaign, sponsored a full year’s midday meals for two government schools, and collectively raised around Rs. 3,00,000 for TAPF.
My first day was baptism by fire. Along with the intern who had already been volunteering in TAPF for a month, I was told to supervise Goldman Sach’s volunteering activity in the renowned Akshaya Patra centralized kitchen. I had to supervise their activity in the kitchens while they helped serve food to the children. While just seeing the level of precision and care going on in the kitchen activity was awe-inspiring enough, seeing the children actually lick their plates in satisfaction after they finished eating, and interacting with them as they tried to show their talents off for the new visitors, was an even greater treat. Seeing my enthusiasm for this fieldwork, my supervisor promptly asked me to continue supervising these corporate tours for the rest of the month, which was something that I had to do around 4 more times with corporates like Goldman Sachs, Dell, Morgan Stanley and Toms.
In the same week, I was immediately assigned the task of running a campaign aimed towards the privileged children of Bangalore. Together with the other intern, we came up with a kids-for-kids campaign, which soon turned out to be my pride-and-joy during my time as an intern. This campaign was aimed towards international school children to help the younger ones in government schools get mid-day meals for a month by contributing only Rs. 67 from their pocket money. It was a full-blown campaign with posters, flyers, badges, competitions, prizes and actual clients with meetings. While we had to jump through the organization’s hoops to get the campaign started, I was in charge of all of it.
The amount of freedom and responsibility they gave me made this entire experience absolutely incredible.
Coining the name of the campaign as the Me&You campaign, I helped design the logo, badges, donation forms and flyers – with considerable help from the Creative team – to be distributed amongst the privileged students when we went to the schools to talk to them. The Me&You campaign was essentially a fundraising campaign, where we encouraged every student who decided to help out a under-served child with a badge, and rewarded those who went above and beyond with certificates and letters of recommendations. Using online tools, I also created the campaign poster that was chosen to be published and sent out to all the schools participating in the campaign.
This campaign was something that I worked on most of my time. Once we passed through the planning stage and made sure we had the TAPF’s board of trustees acknowledgement and support, we sent out the badges and flyers for printing. Then, my communication skills were put to test. For a few days, I lived the life of a call-center employee, calling up publishing houses and bookstores looking for possible collaborations and sponsorships. This particular experience was harrowing and made me resolve to be nicer to the telemarketing callers. I learnt the importance of using the right phrases and tone to get my way to try to talk to the company’s marketing director. Consequently, we also set up meetings with our first school’s trustee to discuss our ideas and get the green light from him to use his school for the campaign’s trial run. We set a date and after rehearsing and presenting it countless times to various colleagues in the office, we attended the school assembly and addressed around 400 students from the 5th grade to 10th grade about our campaign and motivated them to participate in our initiative. Right after, we contacted the next school on our list and immediately got the approval from the principal, which allowed us to further this campaign in a very short period.
In the end, the endless hours of designing and redesigning the flyer and certificates, pestering the Creative Team, debating which color, word or slogan suited the campaign best, trying to get appointments with publishing houses for sponsorships, and running after the higher-ups to get approval for everything was so very worth it. Merely looking at the Me&You badges, posters and flyers makes me so very proud, to have tangible products of our hard work. The fact that this campaign will continue to run and even spread to another city in a few days is something that I will be thrilled about for the rest of my life.
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