Privilege is often deemed as corrupting. Often the world doesn't give young aspirants the privilege to explore and create their own experiences from which they can learn holistically. Our education system considers teenagers to be quite immature and often forces them into pursuing streams based on popularity and future scope rather than individual's interest and strengths. Teachers, parents and mentors take the burden upon themselves to decide on behalf of the student with a view of protecting them from choosing potentially inferior career options. While a lot of hypocrisy is involved in this, there is an absolute lack in opportunities available to create such gateways for students to invest, work and create valuable experiences.
Udhyam Learning Foundation’s internship programs for the students of GMR group of Institutions is aimed at creating such an opportunity. A recent interview with Ms. Rithika Prasad revealed the kind of experience and the scope of the internship with respect to future planning.
Rithika is a second PUC student at CMR PU College ITPL. She did her schooling in IGCSE syllabus and chose commerce as her stream of pursuit. Her choice was driven by both interest in business studies and a tad bit aversion towards science. However, the subject closest to her heart was and has been Economics. She developed her interest through extensive reading and reflecting over her strengths and weaknesses. In order to gain first hand experience she had interned in a couple of corporate houses before discovering Udhyam. Since her school was associated with Udhyam Learning Foundation, she acquired information about it easily and was also assured of a safe environment and quality work. Still, she started out with a critical mind and a lone goal of experience hunting.
In the first two weeks of her internship she was introduced to the various programs that Udhyam runs and the mindset it intends to cultivate. All the interns were made to go through a similar course as that of Udhyam Shiksha students which involved team building activities, seminars on ideation, innovation and skill development, thereby facilitating realization of one's potential. The group consisted mostly of students from CMR college but they belonged to streams ranging from science, commerce and humanities. Rithika felt that this diversity added more substance to the group and enriched the quality of conversations they had.
The interns were then divided into teams and assigned particular programs to work on, mainly Udhyam Shiksha and Vyapaar. The Shiksha team's tasks included helping out the facilitators during their session at various schools, monitoring the progress of the children and correcting their methods wherever applicable. Rithika who was part of the Vyapaar team went to Business melas where small businesses and entrepreneurs were given a chance to showcase and sell their products. Udhyam was mentoring some of these businesses and Rithika was tasked with having conversation with the sellers and finding out their errors and limitations. The glitches were pointed out and an opportunity to correct it was provided.
The suggestions ranged from cost benefit analysis, and determination of profit margins to printing pamphlets in local language rather than only English.
She worked in remote areas without vehicular access and mobile network coverage. She chose this project specially for the experience of working with such challenged communities. She claims that lack of infrastructure had but little effect on the creativity and positivity of the people there. They were in fact more cheerful and content with what they had and this taught Rithika a lesson on content. The impact has been to such an extent that she’s now trying to keep a strict check on her expenditure. The concept of finding joy in little things stuck deeply with her curious mind and she’s trying to inculcate it in whatever small way possible.
Her experience with the Udhyam team has been a very warm and joyful. She is proud of the fact that she chose to spend her holidays in the company of such brilliant minds rather than binge shows on her couch like her other friends. She feels that the team is quite informal which gives the interns ample space to raise their concerns but at the same time it is very punctual and meticulous which is inspiring. She regards their insight and ideas regarding the goals set out for the foundation as very deep and quintessential to our society. She admires the fact that the team spends so much time on personal conversations and building a rapport with each other. This kind of an environment was severely lacking in the other institutions where she had worked in the past. Udhyam has set a bench mark for warm and lively work environments and is trying to create novel work spaces that are conducive to the development of every individual working in it according to Rithika.
Bubbling with positivity and highly enriching experiences Rithika now feels she’s more ready than before to tackle problems and confront them with a strong and firm stand. She hopes to become a creator of socio-economically productive opportunities and leave a significant mark on the community that has given her so amply.