Make your summer count. Here are some of the coolest internships on offer

Among the fellowships and programmes are intensive, immersive learning experiences in the fields of urban studies, heritage, culture and politics.
Hindustan Times | By Aishwarya Iyer
UPDATED ON JAN 29, 2020 09:03 PM IST

It’ll be summer soon, and that means it’s time to start exploring fellowships, volunteer programmes, internships, maybe even start-ups. Added to the long list of options, as students try to expand their horizons and make their CVs more impressive, are the spaces of culture, heritage and urban studies.

Organisations operating in these spaces are responding with programmes for undergraduate and postgraduate students, and they say applications have already started coming in.

The work typically involves conducting surveys and research for white papers, assisting in urban planning projects, organising events and even engaging with the public at events, walks and trails.

Organisations in Mumbai to aim for include the Godrej India Culture Lab, Khaki Heritage Foundation, and the globally run Young Leaders for Active Citizenship (YLAC).

Exchange of ideas

The Culture Lab in Mumbai has a national fellowship programme and invites undergraduates, postgraduates and PhD students to apply for its two-month, full-time opportunity. Since the Lab’s focus is on urban-rural narratives, digital India, educational alternatives, dissent frameworks, environmental policies, and identity politics, students from any discipline who are working in or at the intersection of such themes are welcome to apply.

Selected fellows will assist in organising events, conducting research and producing white papers. The programmes are held in June-July or July-August, depending on the candidate’s academic schedule, and students are required to work 40 hours a week.

“The fellowship will take students beyond academics and push them to think in ways that come from a multidisciplinary approach,” says Koninika Roy, catalyst at India Culture Lab. “Since the India Culture Lab is all about a cross-pollination of ideas, students will get to learn a great deal by interacting with experts, working on the thesis for their own college projects (if any) and showcasing their work to a wider audience.” All fellows are paid a stipend.


For students in Classes 11 and 12, set to begin senior college, YLAC, which focuses on transforming learning systems and preparing younger generations to lead change, conducts a High School Achievers’ Programme every summer. Two modules are available — one with a focus on developing critical thinking through debates in political science, sociological concepts, philosophy and economics; the other with a focus on collaborating with NGOs, going on field visits, engaging with local communities and using academic skills to document and address social issues. The three-week programme is held in May in Bengaluru and in June in Mumbai and Delhi.

For college students interested in policymaking and politics, there is a month-long programme called Policy in Action, held across Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi and focused on developing core skills of advocacy and policy analysis. Students work closely on live projects with Members of the Parliament (MPs), who are invited as guest faculty. The sessions are conducted over the weekends and students work on projects remotely.

All fellowships require students to pay, but scholarships are available.

Siddhaarth Sudhakarna, 25, a senior product analyst, had enrolled in the Policy in Action fellowship last year. “I wanted to learn from the people actually working on national policies. We were all assigned to an MP or a planning agency to work on a topic. I was given a policy brief on judicial reform and how the system can be made more effective,” he says. As a software engineer he had no clue how to proceed. “But we had a team member who was a lawyer and guided us with questions and how to formulate them. The YLAC team also helped a lot, offering domain expertise. There’s so much about the Indian system that we should know as citizens, but we don’t,” Sudhakarna adds.

Know your city

For those interested in culture, heritage and culinary history, Khaki Lab by the Khaki Heritage Foundation has opportunities this summer for college students. “We have film screenings, food trails and panel discussions coming up and we would like college students to collaborate with us to organise these events and in the process, learn about the city’s forgotten history,” says founder Bharat Gothoskar.

Alisha Sadikot, a city historian and founder of the Inheritage Project, has two final year tourism students from Ruia college interning with her for the coming four months. “I have worked with their class before to do workshops and walking tours and that led to this internship opportunity. They had to intern, as part of their degree programme, with an agency in their field. The students will work with me and assist in my programmes and also develop one individual project idea of their own,” Sadikot says. “They will explore the wider fields of public history, urban heritage and engagement as part of their degree in travel and tourism, with a view to also exploring evolving employment opportunities in the field.

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