Work hard, play hard at new-age internships
Most internships are about fitting into a professional mould and learning to walk the talk, but some companies are loosening the ropes, with orientation programmes that incorporate zumba sessions, quizzes and beach volleyball.
Samsung India in Gurugram, the Park Hyatt Hotel in Chennai, Yes Bank in Mumbai and HR consultancy Mercer India are among those welcoming interns to a less intimidating workplace.
“Interns are investments,” says Sameer Wadhawan, head of human resources at Samsung India. “One of our core values is ‘people’. The mix of fun activities and work is meant to help students hone their skills while learning from the talented and experienced employees at Samsung.”
Muskaan Singla, 19, a final-year student of hotel management at Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration (WGSHA) was surprised to be taken to play beach volleyball in the early days of her six-month internship, which started in May. “I was with the housekeeping department. Playing at the beach was not only refreshing in the middle of a busy day, but we also got to know our colleagues and seniors a little better,” Singla says.
After that, there was some group activity every day — meditation exercises, games.
Varun Ramachandran, 22, from the Indian Institute of Management-Calcutta (IIM-C) was selected for an internship with Samsung India in Gurugram in April, along with 36 other students from the Xavier’s School of Management in Jamshedpur (XLRI), Management Development Institute Gurgaon, IIM-Bengaluru and IIM-Ahmedabad.
Their two-day orientation was full of ice-breakers such as zumba sessions and treadmill races amid discussions on strategy and role. To get to know each other, the employees and interns played a game of ‘Human Bingo’, where cards feature fun facts such as whether a person has travelled to the US, worked in another state, or likes wine. The interns must go around the room, interviewing people and checking off the boxes that apply. There are prizes for jaldi five, and full house.
Colleges are getting into the game too, using games and quizzes to better gauge aptitude and skills ahead of internship season. Lovely Professional University (LPU), Manipal’s Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration and Ashoka University are among those using quizzes, storytelling and games to prepare their students for the world of work.
At LPU, students are given situation-based questions and based on how they react, professors gauge what kinds of internships would suit them best. “We are used to the traditional methods of group discussions and aptitude tests,” says Kanika Vig, 22, a final-year MBA student at LPU. “The games and quizzes need similar thinking, but have an element of surprise.”
Navpreet Kaur, assistant director of planning and governance at LPU, says they design quizzes also to help ensure the student knows the company they’re headed into.
Educationist Fatima Agarkar says the recreational activities are also helpful in bringing introverts out of their shells. “Some of the most talented people find it hard to make friends in a new situation, or even to speak up, at first. A group activity will help break the ice for them.”