NEW DELHI :
When Neeraj Kuriakose started his internship with cloud kitchen firm ZFW in January, he was thrilled by how much he was learning about management and operations from the bi-weekly store visits. The 23-year-old Delhi University student enjoyed meeting staff, checking stock and getting customer feedback. Two months into his stint, India went into a lockdown to curb the virus spread.
“Now, I handle everything from home. CCTV footage helps me see if all the required things are in place. I get on calls with the staff to delegate tasks," he says. “This wasn’t something I was prepared for, or even thought of, but I am learning newer skills about remote working, which I am sure will be helpful in future."
As the pandemic and the resultant lockdown changed the way we work, interns are acquiring new skills and learning to think on their feet to ensure they get their work experience. Showing initiative during a crisis could help them land employment in a shrinking job market, they hope.
Sanil Sachar, partner at startup incubator Huddle, believes it is a great time to hire interns. “There are a lot of students sitting at home and looking for jobs. Interns working through the lockdown are trying to prove themselves because they hear news of job cuts," he says.
At Ola, interns have always been a key part of talent acquisition, and the cab aggregator has taken in 38 interns during the lockdown. “The interns are part of daily team meetings, informal catch-ups and cross-functional team webinars, which maximize their learning opportunities," said Rohit Munjal, chief HR officer at Ola.
Instead of going to the market, interns at Mondelez use the company’s internal Know Your Consumer (KYC) app for their projects. “Using the app, interns get an idea of consumer immersion, and their thoughts about our products or campaigns. They are also talking to retailers and distributors on the phone, understanding our digital footprint and getting feedback," said Mahalakshmi R., director, HR, Mondelez India.
Remote internships do not mean the interns are left to their own devices. Digit Insurance had a virtual on-boarding and e-mentoring session for its 42 interns. “Understanding the organization culture is important for any intern, and we do it through Digit Wire, our online initiative," said the firm’s HR chief Amrit Jaidka Arora.
Mentors also have a daily catch-up with interns and include them in daily departmental calls. Shantanu Das, chief HR officer at Amway India, said he held a “virtual walk the floor" to introduce interns to team members, and let them sit in on business meetings to ensure that they get the same experience they would if they went to office.