Internships in B-schools are a big deal. Not only do they add value to students’ resumes, but also give them the exposure to what it is like to be in the real-work world. While most students opt for summer internships at corporates, some of them are now choosing social internships — that is, working with NGOs or in the CSR wing of companies.
Smriti Mahlawat, a second-year student of IMI Delhi, decided to intern with Professional Assistance for Development Action, an NGO that works for the upliftment of marginalised women. Working in the remote area of Jamsola, which lies on the border of Odisha and West Bengal, she studied how the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act impacted the place in the last five years.
“A professor told us 20 years from now, there won’t be any water left. At Jamsola, I saw this first hand. This social responsibility cannot be taught in class,” Mahlawat said.
The remuneration ranges from unpaid internships to earning around ₹20,000 a month. While some choose this path voluntarily, others tread here because it is compulsory. In fact, social internships are now catching up in B-schools. IIM Indore’s five-year Integrated Management Programme mandates students to dabble in this area at the end of their third year. XLRI has a Village Exposure Programme and an Outbound Programme for its first- year students.
SPJIMR, too, integrated a mandatory social internship programme in its management curriculum. “In 2001, the Centre for Development of Corporate Citizenship (DoCC) was established and implemented in all the programmes,” said Nirja Mattoo, Chairperson of the centre.
Harish Khanna, a first-year MBA student at IIT Madras’ Department of Management Studies, bagged a market research profile with Rural Technology Action Group (RuTag) in Pattamadai, Tirunelveli, which is famous for its mats. His job entails him to come up with ideas on how a product can be marketed better. “I have no prior experience, and most of the other internships required it. When I came across this profile I was convinced The work I am doing is quite raw, and involves no software,” said Khanna.
A number of students want to bring about a change in the society. “Reading about an issue and meeting people who have been affected are two different things,” said Vandit Sawansukha of IIM Indore. He is interning with SELCO Foundation in its incubation department.
Ankit Kumar Gupta, his batchmate, is working with Waste Warriors in Corbett, as its data manager. “When you are in a corporate setting, you get to see only numbers. But on a social internship, you meet different people, which makes you humble.”
New career choice?
A few of the students are even rethinking their career choices. Mahlawat said: “I am reconsidering my career choices because this society needs us. But in this sector, you start with a very low income. That might be why MBA students are reluctant to join the sector, since they have invested a lot on their education.”
Sawansukha said: I believe social internship is a good experience. If we are in positions to take decisions that will affect everyone, it is good if we are cognisant of the underlying issues that our country faces.”