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Advice From A First-Time, Cynical Intern: Find Your Passion, And Chase It Like The Devil

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Once upon a time, there lived a dame, who was a sheltered young lady, innocent of the ways of the world. She had never spared a thought for her qualities, talents, interests, strengths, or weaknesses and lived in a blissful ignorance, till the internship bug finally bit her. It all began with a phone call from a classmate, mentioning that he was working as a content writing intern.

Something clicked inside her mind on hearing the note of pride and purpose in his voice. She also wanted to do something other than studying all day and stuffing her mind. Taking the reins into her hands for the first time, she decided to gain experience in something she enjoyed, and that was writing.

After much research on the internet, her quest for an internship ended at Internshala. Without further ado, she crossed the Rubicon by creating her Internshala account, and thus began her voyage. She browsed through content writing internships, and found that applicants were required to share samples of their work, preferably through a blog link or Google Drive. This put her off and made her nervous as:

1. When it came to technology, she was a toddler. She didn’t even know what Google Drive was. The only saving grace was that she didn’t think it had anything to do with cars or roads.

2. She had never used Google Slides or Docs before in her life. Her knowledge was sadly limited to MS PowerPoint.

3. She knew zilch about setting up a blog, though she swore she’d heard about WordPress before.

While initially daunted because of her congenital technological backwardness, she somehow managed to gain enough know-how to create a blog and publish posts that could be presented as her sample write-ups. Creating her own blog, coming up with interesting ideas, and writing articles – all this piqued her interest in what lay ahead, and she started applying. She had her first telephonic interview with “Nagno” which she handled with a lot of anxiety. She was rejected, but it gave her important lessons.

Soon, she received shortlisting emails and calls from several employers including Qriyo, Qpedia, Colour Motions, Smart Web Point, Storytap, etc. but couldn’t find the right fit. She even got hired for the first two, but it didn’t last long.

As they say, there’s a silver lining to every cloud – the experience of writing sample articles for the shortlisting tasks proved to be gratifying and fulfilling. From writing a movie review to summer camp listicle, she made the best of her time. She chanced upon an interesting internship at Phyzok Learning Solutions, LLP, an educational company. The only problem was that it was almost too late to apply.

Owing to a combination of bad luck, wrong timing, and a slow internet connection, she had missed the deadline for the internship by ‘Maggi standard time’ i.e. two minutes. However, missing the deadline didn’t stop her from applying. She tracked down the company’s email address and applied via email. In her email, she apologized for the delay, included her Internshala resume, and provided the answers to the questions that were asked by the company in the application form on Internshala. For the question, ‘Why should you be hired?’, she wrote the following:

In my humble opinion, a well-read person makes a well-informed writer. My background in economics and my deep understanding of the subject make me most suitable for writing on topics of academic interest. Being a student, my potential is untapped, and I have an added advantage of being able to relate to the expectations of students from the student material they refer to. My USP is my attention to detail and a comprehensive explanation style that garners interest and captivates students’ undivided attention. My aim is to design the study material in a precise, engaging, and reader-friendly manner. I am a painstakingly thorough researcher who takes into account relevant facts and creates concise, simple, and accurate content. To my credit, I have an essay written for a competition organised by the RBI which is an example of my ability to write well-researched and informative matter. I am a writer who realizes the importance of research and fact-checking, and I ensure that my matter is faultless in terms of facts and grammar. My prior experience in proofreading will definitely be most useful in this regard.”

In response to the next question, ‘Which subject are you interested in?’, she mentioned economics and added that she had an experience of teaching social science to middle school children and had a keen interest in history and political science. Lastly, the application required her to draft an explanation of a topic of her choice; she wrote an article on ‘Inflation – The most iniquitous tax’.

After a few days, she received a reply from the company that she was shortlisted. After submission of her shortlisting task, which was creating a presentation on ‘Globalisation and the Indian Economy’ in an interesting format created by Phyzok along with speaker notes that would be used by the voiceover artist as a script, she was hired as a subject matter expert for social sciences. Her job profile included creating interactive, informative, and awesome educational content in the form of case studies (using Google Slides, mind you) that went beyond the school syllabus and provoked a learner to think, reflect, and understand concepts.

Her job was to create case studies on various chapters of social science subject taken from NCERT books for classes 8 to 10, covering all the topics of a chapter. She worked primarily on political science and history. She not only created factually accurate, interesting, and visually appealing case studies with engaging content, graphics, and multimedia but also wrote the script for explaining a content slide. She had to make case studies on about three chapters a week and each chapter was required to have a minimum of five case studies. After submission of a chapter, the team reviewed it and she would incorporate suggestions or corrections if any. The job was basically researching, making an innovative presentation of that research in form of slides, and explaining concepts by connecting them to real-life examples to make them more relatable. The work entailed extensive and intensive research, cross-checking of facts, compiling content for further reading on the given topics, creating infographics, and writing in an interactive, fun, and student-friendly style.

The internship offered her an opportunity to expand her existing bank of knowledge by regular deposits of facts, subject terms, and knowledge bites. She learnt how to research a topic and present it in an innovative manner and about valuable learning resources. She learnt the value of time and the importance of consistent hard work and focus. The instances when she couldn’t deliver the case studies on time due to her insistence on quality motivated her to find the balance between doing the right things and doing things right; the balance between effectiveness and efficiency, which is as elusive as water in a desert.

She recalls an incident when she received no communication from her intern coordinator regarding the next assignment for almost a week. Anxious and worried, she contacted the company’s CEO, who was courteous enough to reply instantly and assuage her concerns. This made her understand the importance of timely communication in building mutual trust and stimulated her to give prompt replies.

In hindsight, it wasn’t only the internship that gave her a memorable, rewarding, and enriching experience but it was the whole package: the pre-internship activities, writing answers in applications, thinking about why she should be hired, the interview process, working on shortlisting tasks, and even something as commonplace as writing emails – all of these made her work experience a wonderful story of her first step towards independence and purpose; a story to reminisce with fondness and pride. It might seem a bit of an overstatement to speak about an internship experience as a journey that helped you discover yourself; she used to be cynical about it too until she did so herself.

So, here’s some advice from a first-time wary, cynical intern: get off your couches, pause binge-watching those popular TV series everyone’s talking about, stop clicking that hundredth pouting selfie and just for once, go out there, find your passion, and chase it like the devil because, once you get bitten by the internship bug, it’s impossible not to get infected by the awesome superpowers* that can beat even the ones gained from the bite of a radioactive spider.

*Superpowers include, but are not limited to, ability to work for five hours straight without a bathroom break, and marketing yourself in a way that even the CEO would have second thoughts about keeping his job instead of handing it over to you! 😉


About the Author: Komal Pahilajani, a student of University Maharani’s College, Jaipur, talks about her first internship experience and how it helped her in discovering herself. This story was first published on Internshala.

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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.

Read more about his campaign.

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.

Read more about her campaign.

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.

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.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

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.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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