Trend - Doing something meaningful is the way to go this summer.

Come summer and most students pick the idyllic life as their form of escape — road trips, parties, gaming and quiet afternoons doing nothing at home. However, some choose to step off the beaten path. Summer occupations are no longer for the sole purpose of earning much-needed spending money; today's focus in on the proactive and the productive.

Twenty two-year-old Vaishnavi Bala decided to get more out of her summers than most. While most people of her ilk picked corporate companies for their compulsory college internships in journalism school, she decided to do it differently. One year was spent working for city-based Action Aid, and the next for Freedom Foundation. “I was initially just interested in how NGOs work and how effective they are,” she explains. “Later I realised how brutal and intense the entire experience can be and I wanted more.”

At Action Aid, she worked with migrant labourers from Orissa, her fieldwork culminating in a series of case studies. Freedom Foundation saw her working with children who have HIV/AIDS. “I chose these NGOs based on their social relevance,” Vaishnavi explains. “It opened my eyes and I could actually see how things operate on a grass-root level and what impact they have.”

Hers isn't an isolated experience. Vishy, the head of communications for South Asia of the NGO Aide et Action says the organisation welcomes youngsters to work with them over the summer, purely on a voluntary basis. “We provide our volunteers with certificates and credit for their work, but their experiences usually says it all,” he says. He cites the example of a current volunteer from Shillong, working on a 10-minute video on the education of migrant children. “She's working on the storyline, she's shooting at the worksites. She'll get the credit for the video wherever it's screened. For a student, that's fabulous.”

The options are endless for those willing to try different things. The Hyderabad branch of international student organisation AIESEC is famous for its international experiences for graduates, with its vast network of corporates, NGOs and universities. However, it also offers experiences tailor-made for students. “The minimum duration for our offered internships are between six weeks and 18 months,” explains vice president of communcations, Pallak Sancheti, also a St. Francis student. The internships are open for those in the age group of 18 to 24 years and there's something for everyone.

“You can take up paid internships in any one of the 110 countries that AIESEC is present in,” Pallak says. “This can help commerce students, a lot of whom have a compulsory internship imbibed in their curriculum. Summer or winter is a great time for them to go for one and they can work in different types of organisations depending on what they want and their skills. Even students who have just finished their standard XII can work in NGOs on different issues, like environment, child rights, etc.”

The bottomline is obvious: Students looking for something to embellish their CVs or college applications with, or simply beat the boredom of summer — look no further. The city has many opportunities. All it takes is a little push.

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