Even though it has barely been two weeks, I would say that my internship experience with Reap Benefit has been no short of the best. Working here has given me all the opportunity and thrill if a student witnessing all the classroom lessons she had learned come to life in a workplace that combines the best of homely and professional environment.
I was introduced to Reap Benefit three year ago as a part of our school’s affiliate program where we would be motivated and trained to solve the world’s primordial problems of the environment, from the WASH-related issues to waste management, all by through a process involving creativity and hands-on engagement. In fact, I would say that it was because of the Reap Benefit that I realized where my interests truly lie. The first time I realized that I was into helping people was when we were all taken to a government high school. Interacting with children directly gave me exposure and insight into their world and their lifestyle, and right then, I knew I wanted to do the kind of work that not only focused on personal benefits but also on the benefits of the society. Based off the field experience and the discussions previously held, we were given a task of coming up with a solution regarding the water conservation — and I was given the satisfaction of being able to contribute to something that could potentially better the world. The following year Reap Benefit gave us the opportunity to speak to juniors of our school, which not only allowed me to impart my learnings with my juniors but also create a change within the school, all while building up critical soft skills such as communication and teamwork. These not only developed my confidence levels but also my enthusiasm for taking part in such communal activities. So I figured that in working with such an organization I would get an insight into the underlying mechanisms of running a business that strives towards the betterment of the society.
Nevertheless Reap Benefit announced that they were holding internships for students, at the concluding session of our engagement for the year, back when I was in ninth grade, I had never imagined that two years later I would be sitting down by their desk, awaiting my first instructions as a business development intern. The first thing I had learned on my first day at Reap Benefit was that while the terms were as flexible as they could be, that one expectation that they held of me was that I give my all in doing what I truly enjoy doing. My day one started off with a Share Meet, which involved the whole of Reap Benefit, including the founders, seated on the floor in a circle and sharing details of each teams’ respective activities for past two weeks. I quickly gathered that keeping everyone updated was not the sole purpose of the meeting, but also cultivating a value system of coordination and bonding, allowing the whole organization to work together as a single cell.
I am grateful to say that over the course of two weeks I was able to experience different fields of work. During my first week of Reap Benefit I had worked with the communications team — Sweeha and Jahnavi, both of whom were thoughtful enough to give me work which put my creativity to test and take time in giving me individual attention and feedback. My task with them was to understand and put myself in the shoes of the NGO’s stakeholders, therefore understanding their outlook on partnerships, and designing pitches to each of the stakeholders, keeping in mind what they would expect and what they would be impressed by. This served as an excellent activity that challenged my knowledge and analytic skills; adding to it the continuous process of improvement through feedback, the experience was made ten fold more professional and exciting.
My second week began as I had my first official introduction to and meeting with my mentor for my chosen field of work. Right from the beginning, it was made clear that what I choose to work on and how I chose to work on it was entirely up to me. That I was free to choose what I wanted to work on as long as I was committed to giving it my best since the outcome was not a byproduct of my hard-work but rather a valued contribution to the organization’s end product. After a brief explanation of the business model, I was given a choice between two kinds of projects that I would be working on for the coming ten days — interpreting, analysing and summarising the trading data into a report, or researching the market and comprehending the various strategies implemented by the businesses thriving in the same space in order to gather ideas and develop strategies for Reap Benefit. Choosing the latter, and under the guidance of my mentor, I soon began my hunt to gather some market intel.
My project was largely split into four segments — Competitive assessment, Demographic and Trend Analysis, Survey, and Demand Modelling. Demographic and trend analysis (figuring out the consumer mindsets and changes in patterns of demand) and competitive assessment ( understanding the competitors, similar NGOs or any businesses that target schools as their customers, and their driving factors such as the USPs, techniques, and strategies) are the prime focus areas of research. Whereas, the qualitative and quantitative surveys and demand modelings were the means and result of collecting and tabulating the data, respectively. So first step was to gather information in order to grasp the dynamics of the business-business platform, which, I had soon realized, did not have to be limited to the internet. Thus, over the course of the following week, my work was to track similar organizations that deal with schools and call them up, one after another, day after day. During this process, even though I had not managed to receive enough responses to draw out a verdict on the market behavior, one learning I managed to glean was that the private sector acts in self-interest; so no matter how requesting the caller’s tone is when she asks for five minutes of their time, there just would never be the right time to answer. As my mentor had put it, “Welcome to Marketing: where for every hundred calls you make, only one would ever answer.”
All in all, at the halfway mark of my internship at Reap Benefit, I can say that this invaluable experience has taught me so much — fostering not only my knowledge and skills but also my curiosity and confidence. Here, I am allowed to work on my interests in comfortable silence, self-paced rhythm and steady improvement with my mentors' continuous feedback. I greatly appreciate the opportunity that the past two weeks of working here has given me and look forward to the rest.
Intern Speaks is a new series we’re launching; as the summer lands upon us and the footfall of interns at the Reap Benefit office increases at least ten-fold. Follow the escapades of our interns as they dedicate their time to making their generation, a generation of civic action leaders.