Back in 2010, Sarvesh Agrawal, a civil engineering graduate from IIT Madras was in a cushy corporate job as a senior business analyst with Aviva in Gurugram. But sometime that year, there came a moment of reckoning. It was personal and, it hit home. Agrawal’s former classmate from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, who was studying at the London Business School, happened to look for an internship in India. Except, however hard he tried, despite his IIT plus foreign education credentials, he couldn’t swing any. Not one.
“That was surprising to me, and it reinforced my belief that a more efficient match-making platform is needed catering exclusively to internships,” says Agrawal. That belief led to a humble, nondescript blog called Internshala. In Agrawal’s study room, where he’d manage both his then corporate gig and after getting home, curate internship opportunities and post them on to his blog. This was December 2010.
Today, seven years later, the company operates out of a corporate office in Gururgam’s Golf Course Road Extension. The signboard says “Awkward Marg” but just as you enter, Internshala resembles a good old, college computer lab, bustling with activity.
Internshala claims to be catering to 2-3 million registered students from around the country, with over 80,000 companies scouting its platform to hunt for prospective interns. Each day it receives around 15,000 applications and is on track to serve 4.5 to 5 million students in 2018. Money is flowing in too. In its corporate filings, Internshala declared a revenue of Rs 2.86 crore as of March 2017, which is more than 1.5x the revenue it earned the previous year. The company has also been partnering several state governments, most notably Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Telangana, with an objective to help state colleges get on its platform.
It is a curious business. The business of internships, because it is unlike recruitment sites like Naukri.com. There’s no sign of the ugly, corporate ladder. Not much talk of experience, either. An intern is just someone hoping to be in the middle of things. Bound by time. Internshala believes the problem is important, and large enough, to go after.
It is not that Naukri and Monster haven’t given it a shot. They have. That super frustrating, at times annoying experience of finding an internship in India. We’ve all been through that, haven’t we? But beyond just the experience, there’s an opportunity waiting to be exploited. Six million students graduate every year, and only a small number of that demographic, anywhere between 8-10%, make it to internships. Pair that with the employability problem, where graduates are not able to find jobs, which by many counts is a major concern.