My Internship Experience

Hi! Myself Kushagra Bhargava, a final year student from the Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Gandhinagar. I worked as an intern with GladEngage this summer, 2016. My role was to organise ‘Mentor Conclave’, an event that brings together school students and professionals under one roof, for exchange of ideas and thoughts.

The idea was that successful mentors from different backgrounds were supposed to talk about their journeys in life so far, exchange thoughts with students and inspire them.

Let me talk about my life journey of the summer in which I worked hard to organise this event successfully. After my third year, there was a gap of 3 months for my next semester, so I did an industrial internship for one month and from June 2016 onwards, I returned to campus and started working with the Placement Office. One fine day in the first week of June 2016, three of my juniors came to the office, apologizing for not being able to continue the GladEngage internship, because of their personal reasons. So, Saumil Shah, who is a Placement Officer at IIT Gandhinagar asked me if I wanted to work on this. I agreed considering my responsibility as Placement Office team member. I discussed about the nature of work with Reshma, founder of GladEngage, and then I got to know that this internship is basically aimed at mentoring school students so as to inspire them.

I started working with her as soon as I got to know about the work and simultaneously working with Placement Office too. I used to sit in the office during office hours and got the experience of doing work which requires to convince corporate professionals. However, this internship experience was new to me and I was excited to do it.

In the beginning, the basic work was to co-ordinate with mentors, professional photographer, videographer and sponsors. So, I focussed firstly on contacting mentors, videographer and photographer. Mentors were confirmed by the GladEngage CEO herself. I contacted a few videographer and photographers. One of the videographer proposed us an amount which was way bigger than our whole budget. So we scrapped going through professional photographer. We contacted few of the freelancers advised by Mr. Chaitya Shah and confirmed one of the team from the local college which did some professional videography in the city and by that time, it had been 2nd week of July 2016. Simultaneously, I had been contacting few of the sponsors but couldn’t succeed.

So, I reconsidered our event reach and approached the companies and institutes which had a common interest. And that’s when we confirmed our sponsor ALLEN Career Institute, a multi-city coaching center that trains students for several competitive exams. I had to follow-up with them for about a month. Initially, I informed them about the event and about the audience. At first, they were unhappy about the number of the audience but after listening to my pitch about the social-impact element of ‘Mentor Conclave’, they said they would consider it.

And after that, one more week passed and in the following week, the person to whom I contacted went out of station so we were in dilemma as to how to proceed since we didn’t have any time to wait but we waited. Till that week, we were almost certain that the event was to be held at a university campus in Ahmedabad, and when we informed them about the dates, they said they would be busy with their students’ foundation programme. So, our main problem arose that we now had no place to conduct this event. No videographer, no venue, no sponsors. Suddenly, everything just fell apart.

I remember the conversation with Reshma on that day when I explained her this situation, she said that we should scrap the event as of now and will do it later. Then, I said to her that let me try from my side to host this event at our college auditorium which took around 2–3 days to get confirmed. Then, we were again hopeful that it might be possible that this event could happen. So on one of the weekdays, I boarded the inter-city bus & travelled to Kota where ALLEN has its headquarters, and where the concerned person sits. When I met him I explained him the situation very well and now he was convinced with our event and said that they would see it and let me know about the association with GladEngage in the next 2–4 days.

So, I could remember the mail when I woke up at 6 pm in the evening about the confirmation of the association. Though the amount approved was less than half but we managed it very well. There comes the end week and I was preparing for the event to organise it. One day before the event, I got many problems which I didn’t took account before. I had to arrange a well-cleaned room and with proper sound system. I had to pay an advance amount to the caterer as well as the bus contractor which took a whole day and in the evening, I was so much tired that I had to sleep for an hour or two but couldn’t sleep because I was constantly thinking about how would I be able to conduct it alone.

Then I prepared my introductory speech and called up the mentors to invite them for the D-day. And then I took a 4 hour sleep and got up in the early morning and called the photographer which I confirmed 2 months back and then she replied that she would not be able to make it to the event as she got sick. And there comes the biggest problem that we don’t have any photographer before 2 hours of the event. So, I called up the videographer (Alive Again) to accompany a photographer with them. For the event on 23rd July, 2016, I had also requested some of my friends to help me, Dewansh, Rushabh and Akshay, who helped me a lot during the whole event to run it successfully. There were other situations where we got stuck but ultimately, it was a learning experience. Before the event early in the morning, when the students were supposed to come to the venue by the buses, they didn’t come at the mentioned venue and I was the only one managing the event. So, I had to be present at the auditorium at all time and directed my friends to accompany the students from the parking-lot. I didn’t think of this task as a big issue but ultimately, it got bigger as around 250 students came at different timings.

At 9:15 A.M., the auditorium was full and I started with a bit of nervousness and introduced everyone with the mentors and handed over the mic to all of our mentors one after another. It was a first of its kind event in India, where students were put to interact with professionals, so initially there was some hesitation from students’ side to speak up, but gradually they started interacting with the mentors. Then came the sponsors session and their discussion was very motivating. One of them said, “We learn only that content which is in the course, Why don’t we go beyond the course material? Why do we learn only to pass the examination? Why don’t we read and learn those which might interest us?

I learned from this experience that whatever you do for your project or anything that you want to do, you would need people to help you execute it on the D-day. I am grateful to my friends, who came as support to me on that eventful day. I learned many things during my 2 months of organising this event. I worked with company professionals, and had hands-on entrepreneurial experience of field operations. I am thankful to Reshma who helped me at every stage and was a mentor to me. I am thankful to Saumil, for being a great support for me. And lastly, I am thankful to the previous interns who opted out and gave me the opportunity to intern with GladEngage.