With increasing start-ups and small companies, the demand for interns has risen. Students are eager to grab the opportunities to build their portfolios.

Come the end of the academic year and students in most colleges are all set to gain first-hand work experience through internships. Be it the field of Mass Media, Business Studies, Economics or even Humanities, internships in renowned companies and even start-ups have attracted numerous students who aim to build on their portfolios and make some good use of a long drawn summer break.

As soon as the dates of semester-end examination were announced, Pansy Pinto, a first-year Mass Media student started applying to several companies for internship. Being a member of Sophia College’s Placement Cell ‘Career Connection’, helped her gain access to details of companies who were looking for summer interns. In the meanwhile, Pansy also tried exploring alternative options for internships through websites such as letsintern.com but by then she had already received a call for interview from DigTac, a social media marketing and SEO agency in Mumbai. “I hope to learn Social Media Marketing (SMM), event management and content writing in a span of two months.” said Pansy.

A number of students from various streams in colleges across Mumbai are keen to gain hands-on experience by utilising summers to learn something new. Many colleges have in place the placement cells which provide students with details of internships opportunities and volunteer programmes. Narsee Monjee College of Commerce and Economics has a placement board where students enrolled in undergraduate programmes can approach companies who are looking for interns. Arushi Thapar, student co-ordinator of NM College’s placement explained, “Students have access to the common placement e-mail id to which companies send information about internship opportunities. This way, students know exactly what the employers are looking for and apply as per their interests.”

Kshitij Ingle, a final-year engineering student in International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Hyderabad recalls his last internship with Disney as a great learning experience. “I was recruited as an intern for three months. Within this span, I handled the social media, client calls and gained inputs on web analysis” he said. “With relevant experience, I could build a strong portfolio which has helped me explore new horizons.” he added.

Exposure to politics

A number of students also apply for political internships in the offices of local politicians as well as political parties. Recently, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has called for politics enthusiasts to work on research projects.

Abhilasha Khetan’s experience of working under the ‘Milind Deora internship programme’ stands out on her CV. In this five-month-long internship from May to September 2012, Abhilasha worked on content for publicity and received a letter of acknowledgement from the minister’s office. “I learned a lot about the work done by a minister in his office which is a one of a kind experience. Political internships give you exposure. You work with people from different backgrounds, but with a similar goal. You interact with political figures, political enthusiasts, which is a one of a kind experience.” she said.

What do Employers look for?

Namrata Kothari, co-founder of Inonit.in assesses students on the basis of their performance in interviews and how much effort they have put in to understand the company. Intelligent answers to questions asked in the interview will also make one stand out of the crowd. “We need a number of content writing interns. So if an applicant who is interested in writing is a blogger or has some previous experience of writing, the person surely has an upper-hand,” she explained.

Along with the quest to learn something new, students with innovative ideas are bound to get selected. “An intern is as important as any other employee in our organisation. So new ideas, suggestions and feedback on website layout, content, publicity material will be taken under consideration,” she added.

I.Can, a Delhi-based start-up is mostly looking for full-time employees but has previously hired exceptional candidates from Mumbai colleges for internships. “If a candidate shows initiative and wants to learn more, we will surely train them as interns. To be outstanding is the mantra here.” says Akshit Batra, founder partner.

Other than the two-year full-time fellowship programmes, Teach for India also calls for volunteers to assist fellows in classrooms. Many a time, some students require assistance with reading and writing, so volunteers contribute to this process. TFI requires volunteers throughout the academic session. “Volunteers are chosen — depending on the hours of work he/she can contribute and the required skill-sets. For instance, volunteers who are good at artwork are preferred for creating teaching aids in classrooms,” said Sowmya Sivashankar, Mumbai area HR and Placement manager.