“In India, internships are for a very short duration. One or two months. If you give me interns (as a company), it is too short to give him an assignment and pick up the skills,” says Govind Gadiyar, a Mumbai-based senior HR consultant. No one takes interns seriously. “Most of the guys you get as interns, they don’t know anything about the business. So companies take the easy way out, and give him some simple tasks, for example, a survey.”
And then, the structural issues. Where internships are more or less capped for one or two months a year. Gadiyar recommends the innovative model adopted by German companies in India, as a potential solution. “German companies have an MBA program for their recruits.
The flow-chart of the operation
How they operate is a sandwich course. Six months of classroom training, and six months on the job. They return to the classroom next year, and again get on to the job. Effectively, that’s one year of work, and one year of study before placement,” he says. What that ensures is a proper hand-holding process and understanding of the business.
This is exactly what Agrawal identified early on, as he plunged into entrepreneurship. “I came across ‘internships’ as a virgin territory, where not much effort had happened in India, and which I could experiment with,” he says.
When it began as a blog, Internshala was a mere destination, where Agarwal would collate relevant internship opportunities for students, and send it over to colleges around the country, as part of the initial outreach. This continues to be its core, or as Shadab Alam, the head of employer relations at Internshala describes: “It’s like Google, but for internships.” Students can post their resumes on the platform, while companies also list their requirements. But while doing so, companies must fulfill key criteria to be listed on the platform: they must pay a stipend.
Startups, which usually don’t like spending a good chunk of their early funds in hiring, are most likely to look for interns to get the initial work done for a lesser cost. And that is where Internshala has emerged as a go-to place. “We found that the overall product is very good, and it is preferred for the competition. We did convert a couple of those leads in the company,” says Harsha Mudumby, the lead R&D engineer at Bengaluru-based Reverie Language Technologies.
While the average monthly payment for an in-office internship program on Internshala is around Rs 7000 to Rs 8000, virtual or work from home interns can expect an average pay of Rs 2.5-3000 a month. Internshala also offered an internship at Reliance Industries Limited last year, where the three students placed earned Rs 50,000 a month.
Amplification of the revenue
While its search-driven business continues to be free, it is looking for other avenues to generate revenue. For instance, in 2013, the company launched an incremental product called Internshala Trainings, which involved virtual (online) courses (on the lines of MOOCs), ranging between 4-6 weeks and around areas and subjects that could help students find internships and jobs. This would include subjects like web development, Android, Python, Advance Excel, Digital Marketing and Internet of Things, among others. These courses are delivered virtually through video and written content.
The company says that when it began training, it had around 150-200 students as its initial takers. Since then, it has grown to become a money-spinner. In 2016, it trained around 10,700 students. That number today stands at over 20,000 and is projected to cross 30,000 in 2018.
“We launched training with an objective to help students acquire skills that would aid them in their internship search. Students often used to sign up for physical training centers in cities that were expensive and inaccessible for many,” says Agrawal.
These training programs are paid and are priced around Rs 2,000-3,000 on average. “There are certain programs, like say the Internet of Things, where we have to provide our students with learning kits. So, we charge them additionally for the kits,” says Alam. Today, Training contributes to about 65% of its revenues.