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How I Got Over A Missed Opportunity And Bagged A Power-Packed Internship

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Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith.” – Margaret Shepard

After sending numerous emails to professors for internships, I finally received a positive reply from Canada, Denmark, and the Netherlands. All three were funded internships, and based on my research interest and recommendations from my seniors, I decided to go ahead with the internship in Canada. After having a series of conversations with my professor, a Skype interview was scheduled. The interview was short and mainly revolved around my previous experience and my interest in joining that particular lab. Soon, I received confirmation that I was hired and I started preparing for the visa. I had started planning about the things I would do in Canada, when, to my dismay, I got to know that my visa wasn’t approved due to some reasons. By that time, I was already too late for the other two internships. I regretted not keeping an option in hand!

I was informed about the visa issue a couple of days before my end-semester exam, and it was difficult to absorb. Even during my exams, I couldn’t concentrate and my mind used to wander in the lanes of the city I was supposed to visit (thanks to YouTube). Somehow, I got over that disappointment and decided to go for an internship in India itself.

Ernest and Young (EY), coupled with PwC, Deloitte, and KPMG come under the umbrella referent – The Big Four. Getting an internship in any of these Big Four firms is subject to the channel through which you proceed. In my case, it came from a close contact, who helped me in getting to the doors of this opportunity at EY, and my resume was given for the screening process. I made sure that I had included all the relevant details about my previous internship experiences and the various responsibilities that I had handled. My resume was shortlisted and the next round was a telephonic interview with an HR manager. I prepared for frequently asked HR questions from the internet and also took help of sites like Glassdoor and Ambitionbox to read about the company culture and previous interview experiences. The interview lasted for 30 odd minutes and included general questions based on my resume and previous internships. I had stressed on my sponsorship role during college fests in the resume and was asked to share more details about the same. Somewhere during the conversation, I had mentioned that I liked to read on Quora, and so I was asked to name the top 7 writers on Quora.

I cleared this round too. The last round was again a telephonic interview with a senior professional, who eventually became my mentor for the project. First, I was asked why I did a research internship at IIM Kozhikode. I replied that I had realised engineering wasn’t my cup of tea and I had made a mistake in choosing my stream. I was looking for new opportunities; marketing and strategy were something that I had developed an interest in and that’s why I applied for that marketing research internship at IIMK. Then I was asked to share details about the work and responsibilities that I had handled in that internship.

This was followed by some guesstimate cases (like how many red-coloured swift cars were present in Ranchi), and a few psychometric questions. Next, I was asked to share a problem or difficult phase that I had faced and how I handled it. This is where I talked about my visa rejection and how I lost the opportunity to intern abroad. Finally, I was asked why I was choosing consulting and my future plans after the internship. In the end, I was asked about my family, hometown (Varanasi), and about the steps taken by the PM Narendra Modi, who’s also an MP from Varanasi, for the revival of the holy city, and what changes I would bring if I were in his shoes. The interview went well, and I was hopeful. Two days later, I received confirmation about my hiring and was asked to report at Ernst and Young’s Gurgaon office. This gave me a big reason to smile after the past disappointment.

I joined the office and was told about my work. It was a management consulting project in which I was supposed to propose a model/approach for land development and acquisition in Jharkhand considering longstanding acts like Chotanagpur Tenancy Act (CNTA) and Santhal Pragana Tenancy Act (SPTA). After Momentum Jharkhand, the maiden Global Investors’ Summit of the state, GOJ (Govt. of Jharkhand) had received loads of applications from industry side who wanted to set-up their business in the state. Land acquisition was the foremost requirement in the process, but the state-tribal acts, CNTA and SPTA, were a major roadblock. These acts restrict the transfer of a tribal land to non-tribal, covers tribal-related interests at every level of operation, and is also listed in the 9th schedule of the Indian constitution which makes this act beyond judicial review. It can only be repealed by the parliament; the state govt. can only make amendments to it. This is the biggest hurdle in easy transfer of land to industries, and an indispensable solution to it was required at earliest.

We were a team of four and I was the only student. Our team comprised of the Vice President (team leader), Senior Manager, and Senior Consultant. On the state front, land policies for various states are based on “Land Ordinance 2014” to which respective state governments have made necessary changes according to their state’s requirements. We went through various innovative land development models implemented in various countries like Bull’s Eye Ring model, Urban Realms model, Land Pooling and Reconstitution (LPR) model, etc. Aligning Jharkhand with similar models, our team settled with LPR model. I was asked to do extensive research on this model. I came to know that LPR is a proven policy in countries like Japan, Korea, Australia, and in many parts of Europe. In India too, states like Gujarat and Maharashtra had implemented the same almost 100 years’ back. Delhi, Mohali, Naya Raipur, etc. had been added to the list in last few years.

Since this type of model would be first of its kind in Jharkhand, the landowners, farmers, and locals could have had many apprehensions, and thus were needed to be taken into confidence. Thus, we also proposed extensive landowner consultation at various stages. Our entire work was based on this model, and a detailed report was submitted to GOJ for further implementation. During the course of this internship, I got a chance to meet some of the brightest and hardworking professionals. There was no official hierarchy and everyone addressed each other on the first name basis, including the interns. On the final day, I received appreciation from my team leader, the Vice President at EY, for my overall work during the internship. The internship was a learning packed experience where I received many key takeaways from senior professionals.

In the end, I would just like to say that sometimes what you desire never happens and you end up doing something else; however, what counts is that you maintain the same positivity and intent. It can eventually enable you to do things which you couldn’t even imagine before! As Rabindranath Tagore said, “Faith is the bird that sings when the dawn is still dark.


About the Author: Devesh Gaurav, a student of National Institute of Foundry and Forge Technology, Ranchi, talks about how he continued to believe in his abilities and interned at a big brand after initial hard times. This article was first published on Internshala – an internship and training platform.

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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.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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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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