Changing the landscape of internships in India…

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Sarvesh Agarwal, the founder and CEO of Internshala:

I come from a middle-class business family in Rajasthan which introduced me to the world of dealing with customers, running an enterprise from an early age. The thought of starting something of my own caught my interest during my first job (at Capital One in the UK)  and I wanted to do something in the field of education because I believed it can make a substantial difference to one’s quality of life and a nation’s well being at large. With that thought, I returned to India and kept experimenting with different ideas until the idea of an internship portal stuck with me for long enough that he started working on it.

My schooling was from Nawalgarh in Rajasthan and later graduated from IIT Madras in Civil Engineering. After college, I joined Capital One in the UK as a Business Analyst and later on went on to work with Barclays Bank and Aviva in India before starting Internshala.  

One clear challenge which I faced after starting up Internshala was to build the technology team. I had studied Civil Engineering and did not know the ‘p’ of programming. Initially, a friend helped me set up the blog and I continued to make do with it and a team of interns who were able to make minor changes and automated a few things. But the entire web operation was still quite manual and it became difficult when the users increased. After struggling for 3 years, the initial team finally moved the platform away from WordPress set up and went live with the current platform in 2013 and by the end of 2014 we were able to set up an in-house technology team.

Another challenge has been to bridge the skill gap among students so that they can get their dream internships. At Internshala, we have always focused on measuring the success by the number of students who actually get an internship through the platform. And for this number to grow, it is important that students have the necessary soft and technical skills so that they can be hired by the companies. To bridge this gap is difficult yet essential and central to Internshala’s existence. With Internshala Trainings, the online training platform and the advent of social media and technology in general, we have a ray of hope that we would be able to overcome this challenge too.

At a deeper level, entrepreneurship excites me because of the creative freedom it offers and the immense learning opportunity it presents – in the first 6 months of running Internshala, I had done and learned more things than in 5 years of previous corporate experience. Internshala also gives me the satisfaction of making a difference to few lives which is hugely important to me for my personal peace.

My advice to future entrepreneurs is to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Entrepreneurs by design are very competitive and very outcome focused and in that hustle you often tend to ignore that real joy and real learning lies in the process and not in the outcome (which one has little control over anyway). Even if you fail, you would, hopefully, emerge much stronger and much wiser as a professional and as a human being and for me that is the key takeaway of entrepreneurship. This change of perspective can do wonders to the budding entrepreneurs’ peace and happiness.

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