Meet The Founder of India’s Largest Internship Platform Internshala Helping Students To Shape Their Career

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In the last several years, internships have increasingly become a popular option to enhance career prospects by gaining real-time industry exposure at the beginning itself. Today, almost all universities have made it mandatory for students to pursue internships in the middle of academic sessions.

Moreover, professionals are also seeking internships in all kinds of enterprises to harness their skills and even learn more. If you still hesitant to seek a suitable internship, here’s what you must know:

1. Gain industry knowledge for career development: Nothing can match the knowledge you attain by “actually” doing all those things in a business environment. An internship will enable you to pick up industry-specific trends, current developments & news and other relevant information quickly. It will encourage you to apply your academic understanding to real projects with actual employees of the organization.

2. Make necessary professional contacts: While it is important to perform the assigned tasks at a particular internship, making a strong list of industry contacts can also be extremely beneficial to you in the future. And the sooner you start making and maintaining contacts, the better it is – for not only your current employment-seeking endeavors but also future business matters.

3. Boost your confidence level: The role of an intern is not restricted to one particular profile. (S)he is required to work in a multitude of departments and puts in efforts on diverse projects. Your interpersonal skills will improve. Basically, an intern is a multitasker and is pulled in all directions – right, left and centre. However, this also means your overall confidence level will improve drastically.

Internship not only give you a practical exposure to the real time work you are going to do after your education but also gives you a platform to make mistakes and learn without getting fired from your job. Once you come back from your Internship, you also tend to learn about the errors and mistakes you have performed during your internships.

But at the same time, choosing the right kind of internship is also equally important for you. Today students are not able to find right blend of training with proper environment as well as learning during their internship.

Sarvesh Agrawal the founder of Internshala– India’s leading Internship platform took a step ahead to offer best Internship opportunities to the students. Lets meet Sarvesh and see how Internshala is helping students shape their career and how he started his journey with Internshala.

1. What is the Name of Your Venture? Any specific reason for this name?

Internshala is a hybrid of “intern” and “shala,” the Sanskrit word referencing a place of learning. The concept of internships is western but I wanted to give it an Indian context, hence the name.

2. Who is your target audience/clients?

On one hand, we help students find meaningful internships and on the other hand, we help companies hire interns. Apart from organisations, we also help statesmen, architects, professors, lawyers, authors, and policymakers to hire interns.

3. Where is your venture based (city, state, country) & What are your geographical target areas?

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Internshala is based out of Gurugram, Haryana. Our focus is to provide internships for students across India. While we will continue to strengthen our presence in cities and metros (where most of the current students and internships come from), we would start concentrated efforts in smaller cities (and towns and villages subsequently) this year onward to take the message of meaningful internships to youth there as well.

4. What problems does your venture resolve? What are your products or services?

India is facing an issue of skill gap and unemployability. Only 7% of Indian graduates are employable. Internships help a student get practical exposure even before they complete their graduation. Internshala matches students with the companies and helping students find relevant internships and organisation to build a talent pipeline. Internshala Trainings is solving the issue of skill gap by helping students learn industry-relevant skills.

5. Share the idea or story behind the venture. How did it come to an existence? What motivated you to start your own venture?

Back in 2010 (and even today), everyone was talking about how Indian graduates were not employable. On the other hands, students often complained of not finding their first jobs fulfilling since they had different expectations. I felt a culture of meaningful internships could solve both the problems and there wasn’t any substantial effort happening in India at that time so I decided to take it up. Incidentally, one of my close friends from IIT days was also looking for an internship at the same time and he could not find one and I felt a platform was needed to bridge the gap.

6. Who are your biggest competitors and how do you differentiate yourself from them?

The 2nd largest internship platform in India is LetsIntern. In terms of size & traffic, Internshala is 5-10X bigger and our platform is free for both students as well as companies.

7. How did you identify your co-founder? Tell us something about your co-founder/s

No co-founder/s.

8. How did you hire your first team members? What skills do you want in your employees/team?

I hired a team of virtual interns through Internshala who helped me with different aspects of the business. Other than the skills (which is a must), I look for 3 factors: an example of hard work, a genuine excitement to work with Internshala, and humility.

9. What expansion plans are you looking for the next 2 years, next 5 years?

Our mission is simple- a meaningful internship on the resume of each of the 30Mn college students in India. That is our vow and that is our game. We will not rest until we get there.

10. Where do you want to see yourself in next 10 years?

I see myself in the same place as I see today; learning every day. Though, I would not mind if working hours a bit relaxed then 🙂

11.What are your goals over the next 1, 3, 6 and 12 months?

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With +1.5 Mn registered students, Internshala is just getting started. While we will continue to strengthen our presence in cities and metros (where most of the current students and internships come from), we would start concentrated efforts in smaller cities (and towns and villages subsequently) this year onward to take the message of meaningful internships to youth there as well. Historically, there is no dearth of talent in our tier 2/3 cities – we need to bring awareness and opportunities to them if India were to reap true benefits of its demographic dividend. As we dug deeper, we found that far too many students lack the necessary technical and soft skills to get an internship and got rejected when they applied. Bridging this skill gap is essential and central to Internshala’s existence because of which we launched Internshala Trainings, an online training platform (see here).

12. Have you raised any funding? 

I raised an angel round from friends and family when I started and have bootstrapped it since then. Most of the money is used for building the team and technology infrastructure.

13. What were the problems you faced during the starting days and how did you resolve them?

One clear challenge was to build the technology team. I had studied Civil Engineering and did not know ‘p’ of programming. A friend helped me set up the blog but things became difficult when the users increased. Another friend of mine, who was from Computer Science background, joined me as co-founder initially but left after few months. We continued to make do with the WordPress blog and a team of interns who were able to make minor changes and automated a few things.

Finally, I found someone competent and willing enough to build the platform as a freelancer but he also did not have a team (so he hired interns through Internshala) and we finally managed to transition from a blog to the website in Oct’13, nearly 3 years after the blog went live!

Another key challenge was to figure out a revenue model since I wanted to keep the platform free for everyone. We solved this problem by keeping our costs low ( the almost entire team has been built by interns or someone who started as an intern) and generating some advertising revenue in initial years. Once we launched the online training platform and tasted success in that, the revenue problem was solved to a large extent.

14. What was the most challenging part of your journey till now? How did you overcome those challenges?

Answered above.

15. Are you married, single or in a relationship?

Yes, I’m married for 5 years. Interestingly, I got married after I started up. It was an arranged marriage. I was not earning a salary at that point in time and my wife supported me financially for first two years.

16. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?

I spend time with my wife by watching Hindi movies together, read books, and help in household chores.
17. What’s your favourite food & holiday destination?

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My favourite food is stuffed parathas and South Indian dishes. So far, the place I liked the most is Darjeeling.
18. Whom do you consider your idol or biggest motivator?

I follow Steve Jobs. I really like his clarity, simplicity of thoughts and tenacity. I also admire Dr Kalam for his vision for the country, knowledge and humility.

19. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?

As an entrepreneur, the buck stops with you and hence you need to be on 24*7. Also often people think the entrepreneurship is about being your own boss. Whereas, I feel the truth is that if you are an entrepreneur everyone else (customers, shareholders, employees e.t.c) is your boss as you are working for them.

20. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?

I would have loved to learn programming. It is an essential life skill.

21. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family & social life?

While it has been tough for me to give time to my family but, overall we all have been happier because entrepreneurship has fundamentally changed the way we look at life and deal with situations.

22. Anything, you would like to say to our readers or upcoming entrepreneurs?

Three things. People > Profit, Discipline > Passion, and Culture > Strategy.

23. Tell us something about your education & family background.

I come from a middle-class business family in Nawalgarh, Rajasthan. In 2001, I joined IIT Madras to pursue Integrated B.Tech and M.Tech in Civil Engineering and post my graduation, joined Capital One in the UK as Senior Business Analyst.

24. What is your USP which makes it unique & different from other start-ups in similar domains?

Internshala’s USP has been a) it’s free for students and companies (while others provide freemium for both or charge one side) and b) we publish only with-stipend internships on the platform (except NGOs) and verify every company before listing – this has helped us win the trust of both the students and companies and build a quality business.

25. What do you think is the biggest threat to the success of small businesses & start-ups today?

The biggest threat is to get consumed in day to day work and losing the clarity and dispassionate view of future.

26. Do you consider yourself successful and by what means do you measure success?

I measure success by how much I have learned and I have learned a LOT ever since I started up.
27.Please share complete name, address, phone number, email id & website of Your Business & Contact Person
Name: Sarvesh Agrawal
Address: Internshala (Scholiverse Educare Pvt. Ltd.), B-809, Unitech Business Zone, Nirvana Country, South City 2, Gurgaon, India – 122018
Phone Number: +91 124 4367427
Email Id: [email protected]
Website: internshala.com

 

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