Corporates dress up summer internships for virtual platforms

Summer interns of ToneTag use household items as props for a creativity project executed working from home. Photo: Special Arrangement  

In the current scenario, internships may be viewed as a superfluity. However, there are organisations that refuse to put their internship programmes on hold, and have dressed them up for virtual platforms.

It means there are tours of departments, open office hours and continual reviews — all offered digitally. A mentor and buddy are assigned for each intern so that students make the most of the opportunity.

ToneTag inducted all the summer interns with their pet names to ring in the homely atmosphere they are working from. The interns were asked to showcase their creativity using household items (think saucepan and mop stick) as props.

Samsung had a marathon induction session lasting five hours: the senior leadership was in attendance.

At Amazon, over a hundred interns attended the leadership connect hosted by the “Student Programs team” with senior leaders on the panel.

At Texas Instruments India, a semiconductor design and manufacturing company, a structured programme is put out for interns to help them understand the different functions of the organisation every week. For instance, the third week is assigned for the trainees to learn about products their team is working on. The company has 35 product teams working in India. There is also a session where former interns, who have joined the organisation full-time, interact with the current batch.

Implementing projects

Students interning with ToneTag, a company that uses sound wave technology for digital payments, get to implement projects. In a live-project, interns did a digital campaign on maintaining social distancing at retail stores, and they handled all the stages from ideation to execution.

“Interns rarely get to see the results of the projects they work on; not so with our projects. Students work with full autonomy and got to see their projects go live,” says Vinay Trivedi, CHRO, ToneTag.

The start-up was not planning to take interns this summer but after seeing many companies had deferred or cancelled internship offers, ToneTag reached out to B-Schools and got 11 students onboarded.

While most IITs cancelled summer internships, IIT-Roorke which has been running summer internships under the Spark programme since 2018, received more than its usual number of applications.

“Close to 15,000 engineering students applied this time, and we have made around 70 offers so far,” says Prateek Kumar Jha, coordinator, Spark. Usually, three lists are are made to shortlist the applicants, but this time, it was down to just one list, says Jha.

Tweaking projects

“Initially, there was diffidence about research projects being done remotely, but we realised it was about making some tweaks, guiding students and leaving it to them,” says Jha.

The Institute takes specific projects from the faculty and asks the students to apply for them. “For those that were experimental, we took the consent of the faculty and the student and converted it a into theoretical and computational project,” he says.

Texas Instruments India has 130 summer interns and one of the first steps that the HR team took was work with ‘mentors’ to change the objective of certain projects so that it could be executed with virtual tools.

“For example, data validation engineers would usually be spending a lot of time in the lab to collect data and conduct experiments. As it is not possible now, we asked them to effect some automation around it,” says Shubhra Bhandari, director HR, Texas Instruments India.

“Every week, students have some form of a touch point and during the four-fifth week they have a mid-term review,” says Shubhra.

Critical investment

For employers, internships are critical to building their talent pipeline. “Close to 70% of our full-time graduates come from internships, which is a big thing for us and we continue to invest in them,” says Shubhra.

While it is premature to pass a judgement on the effectiveness of remote internships, HR managers believe the online component of interships is bound to grow.

Prateek Kumar Jha also feels online research comes with the advantage of working in a comfortable and familiar environment, which should aid the cause of productivity.

WFH internships

Students that have had their offers cancelled or deferred are signing up with internship platforms to find suitable opportunities.

A. Anupama, a final-year postgraduate student of an arts and science college in Chennai, found an unpaid internship, with a non-profit in Madhya Pradesh for two months. The organisation is in the process of establishing a social media presence and her work involves creating content via research and presentations, that would make this possible.

“Being a small firm, my responsibility is spelt out clearly and I get regular feedback for my work. I have been designated social media marketing manager (intern), so I have to prove it,” says Anupama.

According to Internshala, content writing, human resources, data entry, web development, and social media marketing are some of the top areas for internship opportunities. The site has witnessed a 30% spike in postings about virtual or WFH internships during the lockdown. The average stipend offered in WFH internships during March-May was ₹ 4500/month.

The top states in terms of applications for WFH internships are: Maharashtra, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 9:27:12 PM |

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