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Internship 101: Untold Experiences

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By Lekha Saini:

You wake up in the morning thinking of all the self-motivating and positive-thinking books you’ve no doubt read at some point in your life, and with a smile begin looking forward to another exciting opportunity-filled day. You freshen up and walk out to the bus stop expecting your best friend to be waiting there with a jovial smile and a much needed hug. But all you find is a throng of GET’s (Graduate Engineer Trainee) waiting in separate clusters to board the bus and be the early bird in reaching the office. God knows a smile returned, could do wonders to inject your day with gaiety and happiness. But all you find is blank (or irritated) faces waiting anxiously to get into the rat race they’ve become accustomed to living everyday of their existence.

The bus arrives and excites the solemn congregation as they run up and climb the bus even before it has halted properly. And you would think all ‘gentlemen’ remember the saying ‘Ladies First’. Anyways. You enter, find a seat and sit down. And if you are unlucky enough to get an aisle seat, be prepared to be shrugged, nuzzled, caressed ever so ‘unintentionally’ by everyone who passes by you to get to their seats.

The bus journey in itself is torturous. Since you are the ‘outsider’, no one bothers to give you a second look let alone make small talk. You yearn for the person who saves you a seat and threatens everyone else to keep it vacant for you. But all you find is smug people lost in themselves determinedly looking out the window, not even bothering to look up and acknowledge you when you sit next to them.

The bus gets you to your destination and you heave a sigh of relief to be set free. You walk up to the main gate, the cafeteria, the office always on time and missing those truly picture perfect moments of diddle-daddle with friends and the late entry into the classroom amongst a tremendous uproar from those already present making sure the teacher realises you’re late. What would succeed would be a series of warnings from the teacher and praises from the peers. But you find it missing here. No one to register your presence except an impersonal electronic device. No fight to sit on the first bench ‘coz you have an allotted cubicle(always reminds me of bathrooms) where you’ll remain until you are promoted or fired. No variation, no freedom of choice.

A set routine for the day takes you nostalgically into the series of classes you bunked, the assignments you didn’t submit on time and the ever-present feeling that you still have to give class tests and exams to enter into the next year. But nothing like that here, you don’t have mass assignment-copying, discussions during the tests and an overall fiery wish of bumping your opponent from his place in the toppers’ list. Life is too dank and slow.

As soon as it is midday, you leave everything and trudge to the cafeteria for your lunch. Unlike waiting for the teacher to leave the class, and then either sitting in a group sharing packed lunch from home or sprinting towards the canteen to savour the left-over recess/lunch hour (not necessarily only by eating), you are given an almost negligent task of stuffing yourself up with food to survive the next 6 hours with no more food. And you miss the packets of biscuits and chips you devoured while sitting inconspicuously on the last seat in an ongoing lecture.

As soon as it is the end of the last lecture of the day and time to leave the college, you would be seen running towards the main gates, bag in hand, escaping towards freedom a.k.a your home. Here, welcome the weekend, (literally, after a 6-day working week), and you wish you were comfortably at home or with friends you have known in thick-and-thin and created memories with. But neither is plausible because the return journey itself would consume more time than what you would get to spend at home or with real friends.

(A word of caution: a career-oriented environment breeds only frenemies and never reliable friends who would be there always to support you, guide you and turn you into a better version of yourself.)

You run through the years wishing college would end and you would get to join a company. You are in awe of the casual work-environment and the liberties you get there(plus the money ofcourse). You live through everything so fast that you have no recollection of what you did, say, a week before. It’s not that you don’t want it to be that way, you just don’t seem to have the ‘time’.

Trust me, an internship for 5weeks teaches you a lot more than just the technical stuff. It is like a kiss of death which you escape unhurt but which rekindles the fire within you to live your life to the fullest.

As someone close to me remarked once… “Live one day at a time. Don’t rush into things. Savour the moments one-by-one, and create picture-perfect memories worth a lifetime…”

You must be to comment.
  1. Karan

    Out of all the things that people feel and observe and don’t write, u have acquainted your article with s lot of precision at places. Among other cute and annoying facts of life, one statement you mentioned took all my attention at once, ‘It is like a kiss of death which you escape unhurt but which rekindles the fire within you to live your life to the fullest.’ Write more with your child-like killer views..
    W.R.T. , ‘ You yearn for the person who saves you a seat and threatens everyone else to keep it vacant for you ‘ , i’ll get you a personal Wagon R 🙂

  2. ankit

    That’s the hard truth about the corporate.
    That is why it is said, “Flow in the direction of your own wind”.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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