College intern Neha practicing with the camera
This year, in an effort to expand our impact and provide vital exposure to a workplace environment for our ever-growing group of college students, we at AIC launched an internship initiative within our own Education Program.
This initiative, which provides a handful of paid internship opportunities available to AIC's college students, exposed the students to the fundamentals of job readiness from the get-go by requiring them to go through a formal interview process with AIC managerial staff (even though we have known these students for years - interview practice never hurts!), after which several were selected to fill the spots.
AIC students have not spent much time (if any) in formal job environments before and often do not have parents who can model the types of workplace behaviors necessary for career success. Thus the goal of the internship program is to inculcate values and behaviors such as:
- meeting expectations
- communication skills (especially in English)
- computer literacy skills
- following guidance and accepting feedback
Additionally, the internship provide our students with formal job experience to list on their resumes when they go on to pursue future job opportunities, which, in an extremely competitive job market like India's is of paramount importance.
Neha, one of AIC's recent junior college graduates, who is currently enrolled in the first year of her Bachelors of Commerce program at a local university, spends three hours every afternoon assisting with administrative tasks at AIC's Education Outreach Program. This includes tracking student attendance, data entry, general recordkeeping, conveying messages to parents, and providing hands-on support during special events. She has also dabbled in taking photos and helping at AIC's Mother-Baby classes.
Of her internship experience, Neha says, "I have learned so much! I am now being exposed to an English-speaking work environment and Chethana didi [Program Coordinator] taught me how to send e-mails." When asked about the difference she feels as an intern versus a student at AIC, she replied, "There is a sense of responsibility. I feel more involved. In the past, if I saw kids arguing, I would feel like, 'ok, there is nothing I can do about it.' But now I make an effort to mediate and help our kids when they have problems. It feels good to be on the other side now."
Another student, Pooja, who was one of the Education Program's first twelve girls back in 2006, assists with accounting tasks (filing, creating vouchers, etc), and provides classroom support for one of AIC's standard 5 classes. About her responsibilities, Pooja jokes, "Oh, it is fun - I am here mainly to tame Pappu [a particularly spirited child in her class]! I will do anything for AIC. It is my second home."
Not only do our students start to understand how they can take charge of the futures of their own communities, gaining vital skills and exposure while also feeling empowered to give back. They also earn a competitive monthly stipend while providing valuable support and assistance as new members of our on-site team. It's truly a win-win situation and we are so excited to continue to expand our college student intern program for students from AIC's marginalized communities as we head into 2016!
Assisting with accounting tasks
Paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork!
Neha is so proud of her emailing skills