About the Author: Thomas Schubert is an undergraduate student at Carleton University. He visited India for a study exchange program during which he participated in a 1-day internship program at Internshala and shares insightful details about his experience.
Embarking on the 2-week study exchange program to India, our group left Ottawa, Canada’s capital, and 18 hours later we reached Mumbai. We arrived late at night and the airport was fairly empty; however, once we left the airport, we began to see the India that we were told about. Rickshaws, small cars, and motorcycles all cutting each other off as if a mega race, unknown to us, was going on. I started waving at people who all seemed to stare and ogle at us and it was soon followed by selfie sessions. Being to China before, where this is even more prominent, I expected and quite enjoyed the celebrity status but some of the fellow students were shocked. We had our own minibus for 14 people and an hour and a half later, our bus arrived at the hotel. Coming from a country where population density is so minimal, experiencing the large crowds and traffic in Mumbai was eye-opening for most. During the course of 7 days, we enjoyed lectures on Indian cuisine, culture, religions, and commerce at Jai Hind College, Mumbai. We also explored various temples, Kanheri caves, Marine Drive, the Gateway of India, and the Bombay Stock Exchange.
Next, we took a flight to Delhi as we were going to stay in Gurgaon for next couple of days. We visited the office of Internshala, an Indian startup striving to connect students with paid internships in India and abroad, for our 1-day internship program. As we entered their office, the first thing that struck me was this awesome graffiti that said ‘do epic shit’ on a soothing blue wall. This, along with their other culture values, represents the amazing culture that each employee actively embraces.
Each of us was paired with a mentor from a specific business function of the startup. I worked with the content team, and Manas gave me a quick overview of his role and the company’s blog and social media channels. He also asked me for my thoughts on what should be added to those avenues of communication for helping potential interns. After we had discussed the work responsibilities, and I was assigned the project for the day (to write about my travel to India), we also had some fun moments. We discussed our past internship experiences, my love for travel and his for reading, and of course dogs! I told this to one of my friends, a big-time dog lover herself, who was interning with a different team, and she pitched in with her own stories!
Conversing with my mentor and other team members, I also realized the importance of English and how most businesses across the world are conducted in the world’s universal language. My fellow peers were working with functions such as customer service, operations, digital marketing, etc., gaining exposure to the Indian startup culture. One of the biggest differences between office space in Canada and India, that I found, is the sheer no. of people in one open space as well as the lack of physical barriers. Here, around 60 people worked on multiple dining room-sized tables, with the ability to openly talk and discuss with co-workers. No cubicles or other barriers were present, which I believe actively fosters the startup culture and encourages collaboration. Seeing everyone work, on what appeared to be their own laptops, having snacks and using their mobiles at their leisure, displayed the startup culture of self-motivation and hard work towards a common goal without someone standing over people.
Before we knew it, lunch had arrived via Zomato, and we headed outside to enjoy burgers and mango juice in the courtyard. During lunch, we all shared our experiences with our peers, and I discovered that a friend in journalism would really like to meet my mentor. After we finished, we were ushered back in and resumed working on our laptops/iPads again. This is where I introduced my friend to my mentor and they instantly hit it off. As they discussed, I took a small break to walk around the office and clicked pictures of my peers interacting with their respective mentors. After all, I had become the unofficial photographer of the trip by then!
As the day came to an end, the last cup of chai was delivered and our assigned projects were completed. Plans were made for dinner and soon we found ourselves at the center of the office for the farewell session. Each of us talked about our experience and got the certificates. I left Internshala with a deeper understanding of the importance of internships, workings of an Indian startup, and how it’s bringing a culture of meaningful internships in the country.
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