Before taking its maiden flight an offspring is made to take a few sorties by its parents. When the little hatchling grows enough feathers and strength in their wings, those short flights teach them the technicalities of real life flying, their strengths and weakness and how to stay ahead of the ‘game’.

What makes internships important is quite similar to these sorties.

Before embarking on their official journey into the corporate world, young would-be graduates intern across various companies to learn more about themselves. These are the first few experiences for a student, which will further determine their future career path in the industry.

The experience gained through internships can come from anywhere, and it doesn’t matter if you’ve interned at a huge corporate setup, an NGO or a startup; because at the end of the day it all depends on the person who’s absorbing the knowledge.

As third-year IIT Delhi students studying Artificial Intelligence, Algorithms, Network and Digital Analysis here’s a snippet from our valuable learning experience that we gained while working at a technology startup as software development interns.

A Vital Learning Experience

During our summer break, we had to opt between a research project in the college or interning at a company. Though our initial choice would have been to intern at a big corporate house, but we soon realised that while working with them would have definitely added more credibility to our CV, but interning at a startup was a vital part of our learning experience which would go a long way.

Among the choices that we had, we applied for an internship at a tech startup called KarmaCircles, which was looking for software development interns.

Our first day at the office was an eye-opener. We did not understand the idea of coworking space before interning at KarmaCircles. The Innov8 environment was vibrant with more than 40 startups working in the same space all energised with high-voltage enthusiasm which we had never experienced before.

Our manager knew everyone in the co-working space. He made it a point to speak to almost everyone with the passion and zeal to know more about other startups and with an eagerness to share his own experience. In spite of us being complete novices, he believed in our capabilities and right from the beginning of our internship, he gave us the freedom to be independent and creative at work.

Pankaj Bansal, CTO, KarmaCircles, shares,

“The entire experience of having Dhairya and Shardul was excellent. Since they’re from IIT, they naturally rose up to the expectations. Usually in summer internships, most students don’t get a chance to work on all product development aspects, but at KarmaCircles we ensure that our interns get a first-hand experience of the end to end solution. There’s a lot of value for us as well in having interns since they bring fresh and different perspectives to the table.”

Whether interning at a startup or a big corporate house, Pankaj feels there’s no right or wrong, it is entirely upon the choice of the student wanting to work at either of the places after graduation.

However, he does admit that working in a startup allows an intern to learn to be a part of the team and face more challenges since the learning curve is lot more steep.

We were asked to design Instant Karma, one of the key features of KarmaCircles app, implementing various aspects from the start to end of the project. We were given the creative freedom to add more design elements to the feature. Our ideas and suggestions were always accepted and we managed to successfully deliver what was expected from us.

Since we were already accustomed to working under tight deadlines at IIT, working at KarmaCircles was not as pressurising as we had earlier imagined it to be.

With the creative independence, not only did we get an opportunity to take ownership of our work but also a chance to learn a lot. Working at a startup gave us the liberty to be innovative in our approach and we interacted with all the team members without any inhibitions in spite of the tag of being ‘interns’.

Post our experience at KarmaCircles, we firmly believe one should choose a startup for an internship and the primary reason being that they treat interns as team members. Having said that, startups are a great place to intern simply because it gives you a lot of real world experience and training.

Here are some valuable lessons we learnt for those couple of months at KarmaCircles:

Real world experience: This internship gave us the opportunity to grow with the company. We got the right mentoring and advice from our team members and the real world experience that will help us grow professionally in our future career as well.

Be your own boss: Startups hate spoon feeding. Trust us! They want you to be absolutely independent and learn to handle each project maturely. Taking ownership of each and every account that you handle empowers you to be your own boss.

Intern is just a tag: The term ‘intern’ is abused quite a lot in the corporate world. We believe that startups gives you the liberty to be a team member and work on important projects. Startup work experience, in our opinion, helps define the future road map of an “intern”.

Networking: The majority of startups have a small team and you will find them working out of a co-working space. These co- working spaces allow interns like us to interact with other professionals and increase our professional network base and make new connections.

[The author of this post are IIT Delhi students Dhairya Sandhyana and Shardul Tripathi.]

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