REAL AND VIRTUAL INTERNS – DEALING WITH A DISRUPTIVE WORLD

Change is the only constant

We have told that change is the only constant in the 21st century so many times that is beginning to ooze out of our ears. But the fact is, IT IS TRUE. CHANGE IS THE ONLY CONSTANT. Leading the charge worldwide are innumerable organization and individual throwing in massive resources, in terms of money, technology and people to ceaselessly innovate. The simple object is to bring about radical transformative changes through disruptive technologies.

The result is that the ground is constantly shifting under our feet. And if you are one of those lucky ones, in some niche industry, where there is almost boring peace and calm, beware! When the change comes, it will be like a tsunami which sweeps and carries away everywhere with it.

Preparing even creating disruption

There is the oft-quoted example of Kodak. Kodak did fail because it missed the digital age. It actually invented the first digital camera in 1975.however, instead of marketing the new technology, the company held back for fear of hurting its lucrative film business. The rest is history. Today Uber & Ola, have not only disrupted the world-wide taxi trade it is likely may no longer be any personal ownership of cars.

If we misread these signs or think that petrol & diesel cars will not be so easily replaced by electric cars, for example, I think we have a really big think coming. we as Indian MSME’s have not only no option but to embrace the change, but we must be ready for it and create such disruptions ourselves. As Malcolm Goldwell said, “what got you here, won’t get you there.” So, strategies which worked out for the first generation of MSME’s our parents generation, will not necessarily work for us. Because, the market, our people, the environment, the gadgets we use, the way we transact business, communications, our world-view and aspirations…. everything has changed.

Human capital – value & Attrition

As we prepare for this brave new world, it is clear that our approach to the most important agent of innovation. Management and control-our team or the people with whom we work and try to accomplish our objectives-are more crucial than eve in the past. While in the 20th century, capital, machinery & raw materials seemed to be the most crucial aspects of a business; a naturally accepted fact today is that human resources are the most crucial factor.. Granted that machines and modern manufacturing lines, robotics and computers may seemingly have replaced a good deal of old fashioned labour, it has made the people who remain, far more important to the company than they were at any time in the past.

In the good old days, it made a lot of sense for someone who joined a company to stick around, sometimes for a lifetime, both for the security the job provided in an insecure world and for the steady rise within the company for someone who stuck it out loyally. Today, the premium placed on skills has made job attrition the new problem that industries must face and which is a very important subject being addressed by human resources managers.

MSMEs are historically training grounds

A fact which MSMEs have to face is that they are at the bottom of the pecking order. The kind of people who gravitate to MSMEs are normally people who have been rejected by the big companies or are academically at a level that they cannot even hope to apply to a good company or secure employment in the Government etc. In the rare instant, one gets hold of a more qualified candidate the chances are pretty high that the person does not stick on for any significant length of time.

While this is one side of the picture, the other side is that the smarter employees, once they have benefited from the training and experience to a certain degree tend to be poached by competing rivals or are finally picked up by the larger companies. Since, most often there is no comparison in terms of remuneration or service conditions it is almost sinful to expect the employee to hang on, despite one having done ones best at retention, through best practices in terms of human relation.

Assuming that one is reasonably staffed in terms of all the conventional slots in the company there is always need for a set of employees who can be entrusted with works of non-routine kind or for some innovative works etc. In such a case, one way of going about it is to hire someone new, train them from scratch and keep mentoring them till the point they reach a certain stature.

The alternative which is gaining traction in many Small and Medium Industries is Short- term Internship

Short-term Internship

In quite a few functions, such as Business Development, Digital Marketing, Design and Operations MSMEs do not have the requisite confidence in the capabilities of their existing employees in order to make the necessary investment in Training and Applications.

Many MSMEs, especially those making a significant leap up in their operations are increasingly relying on Short Term Interns to bridge the gap. This essentially means that somebody walks into the company with certain skill sets or maybe none at all, is there for a defined period of time to accomplish a defined piece of work and at the end of it he or she simply moves away from the company.

What are the benefits for the MSME?

  • Getting somebody who is young and energetic
  • Someone eager to learn.
  • The internee is receptive to new ideas and is open minded enough to think innovatively.
  • Very little baggage and, therefore, no negatively. The word impossible doesn’t exist.
  • The intern is grateful for the opportunity and the training. Most would be happy to pay for the skills they are learning.
  • Advantages for the Intern
  • Opportunity to be mentored under someone who has vast experience in the field
  • Learn skill on the job.
  • Learn nuances and on the job training which one can’t get in educational institutions, however good.
  • Learn real-life on skills.
  • The Internship stint looks good on his/her resume at the time of final placement.
  • The chance of joining as an intern in the company in which you finally become an employee.

Short Term Internship Practical Experience

Nandan GSE has a defined Internship Policy. What this means that is that we regularly have 4 to 5 interns at works at any given time. This is across the departments of Marketing, Operations, Business Development, Design and Engineering. Some come by referral others who have just written in and we have taken them on.

We have had people who have done 1 month’s internship between semesters in their Engineering College. We have people doing 3 months internship, other doing 6 months internship point education and before their first full time job. We have also had people doing a full 1 years internship, which is ideal for some people who are marking time to gain hands on experience before going abroad for higher studies.

Virtual Interns

We recently went through a Website called www.internshala where you can post the internship for free and young interns would apply.

There is also another kind of internship which is called Virtual Internship in functions like Digital Marketing or HR where you can get a Virtual Intern to work from home where you can give them designated work with a time frame of says 3month for them to complete it.

Recently we hired 2 interns in this manner, with one intern located in Delhi and the other located in Hyderabad. One of them is a lady working from home, Who had taken a break and wanted to resume work having earlier been in the Human Relations Department of a company for 12 years. The benefit for Nandan is that we simply would not have been able to hire such an employee, at the kind of salary she can get nor do we even need such an employee over the long term.

On the other hand, there can be tremendous number of processes that can be farmed out to virtual interns to be set up, which could be later implemented by someone far junior. For the person it is a good opportunity to earn some money without really traveling out, say taking care of a kid and to regain to some extent the confidence which is lost over a long period of absence from work.

At Nandan, by using simple technology, Internet, Skype and the like we have managed to tap high skills at low cost in an extremely flexible manner which is so very useful as we try to rapidly expand our products, services and reach, even as we improve qualitatively in every way.

Author: Raghunandan Jagdish

Raghunandan Jagdish, a US return entrepreneur, who is the MD of Nandan GSE Pvt. Ltd. and passionate about Make in India. He is the creative brain behind the manufacture of Hi-Lifts for the A-380, Rotary car parking systems, mobile Bridge Inspection Units and ‘I for India’, the only Indian ride at Adlab’s Imagica Theme Park

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