In addition to housing India's central government, foreign embassies and a large ex-patriot community, Delhi boasts cultural, historical, religious and culinary destinations to please the appetite of even the most voracious traveler. Along with a national initiative to encourage increased foreign investments, Delhi has developed into a youthful, globalized and diverse city. Delhi is now tied with Beijing as the most targeted emerging market retail destination in the Asia-Pacific region.
Photo credit: Kumaravel.
India is home to some of the world's most ancient civilizations and has been a cultural and commercial center for much of this long history. India was granted independence in 1947, and since then, Delhi has been the focal point of one of the fastest growing major economies. The vibrant service and hospitality industries in Delhi attract visitors and business investors from the world over, making Delhi an intriguing and diverse destination for interns. Some of the most popular internships in Delhi are indeed in the service industry, although Delhi's robust network of NGOs and strong connections to the famous media industry of Mumbai also attract many interns.
Service/Hospitality: As the capital city of such a large, culturally and linguistically diverse nation, Delhi attracts countless international and domestic visitors. Famous for its rich cuisine, lush hotels and affordable backpackers' hostels, Delhi is a hospitable and service-oriented city. For students in hospitality, tourism or service industry internships, Delhi offers a sweeping variety of placements that will offer a unique, international perspective into management and customer service.
Community Development: Despite enormous gains in economic development and political freedoms, Delhi is still home to much financial disparity and social inequality. As such, Delhi has inspired the development of countless organizations working to improve access to healthcare, education and social justice within the city and India at large. There are many opportunities for those interested in interning for NGOs or other charitable organizations, ranging from large, multi-national organizations to smaller, local networks. Interns in the non-profit sector will be sure to gain valuable insight into the nuances, difficulties and potential solutions to social issues and are often given very active, hands-on roles while working intimately with the community.
Journalism and Media: Many national media agencies are based in Delhi in addition to several Hindi and English language cable channels. With its proximity to the booming Bollywood film industry and home to The Hindustani Times which circulates more than one million copies daily, Delhi offers a lively scene for media internships.
Healthcare: India's healthcare industry includes both public and private medical institutions, creating an interesting dynamic for interns. Delhi faces many health issues including poor sanitation, malnutrition and rapid spread of infectious disease, making the city a popular internship destination for students interested in public health or healthcare accessibility.
Planning Your Trip
When and Where to Look for an Internship
While there are certainly internships available year-round in Delhi, many students prefer to avoid the toasty hot summer months of May-July and the sticky humid monsoon season of July and August. Available internship lengths vary greatly, but most programs will require a three month, or semester-long, commitment, preferring that students have the time to get comfortable and adjusted to Indian culture and the workplace.
Many programs have deadlines two or three months before your departure date, so it is best to start looking for placement early. The visa application process, while not too grueling, can be slow, so students are recommended to begin applying for internships in Delhi six months before they intend to depart.
Due to drastic cultural differences and logistical difficulties, it is recommended that students look for internships provided by internship placement or study abroad programs. Typically these programs include useful services like airport pick-up and housing arrangements, making arrival in Delhi less stressful and more enjoyable.
Cost of Living in Delhi
Given the large population and competitive job market in Delhi, students will likely have a difficult time finding extra work on the side. It is recommended that interns budget enough funds to support their entire stay in Delhi. The cost of living in India on a whole is very low compared to that of the US. While the cost of living in Delhi is a bit higher than that in rural India, interns will still find Delhi a very affordable place to live, work, eat and play! A one bedroom apartment in Delhi can range from $115 to 200 USD per month. There are many great street vendors and inexpensive restaurants that will offer interns a chance to experience the vibrant cuisine of Delhi on the cheap—a meal at such a restaurant will typically cost $3 or $4 USD (see more budget and cost of living details).
Work Culture in Delhi
- General Etiquette: On a whole, the residents of Delhi are a gregarious and welcoming bunch. Interns will meet many curious people, anxious to talk about American culture and their impressions of life in India. Indians are very sensitive to social hierarchy, and will expect an intern to know her place in the social structure. It is common, for example, in business dealings to greet the most senior person first. It is important to remain aware of religious customs and to follow the lead of your colleagues.
- Greetings:“Namaste” is the common greeting used throughout India, and is combined with a slight head bow, hands together over the heart (as if in prayer). The deeper you bow your head, the more respect you are showing to the recipient of your greeting. Many modern business people will greet each other with a handshake, just as we would here in the states. To be safe, always begin with the traditional greeting, and wait to be offered a handshake.
- Tea: Indians love their tea. Do not be surprised if you are served tea upon arriving at work, at mid-morning, and again in the afternoon. It is impolite to decline tea, so accept the offer and enjoy the refreshment!
- Timeliness: You will hear people joke about “Delhi time,” and rightfully so. Residents of Delhi have a flexible concept of time, and are not strict about arriving promptly when scheduled. Do not be surprised if your co-workers or friends show up 15 or 20 minutes later than planned, or if lunch breaks tend to run a little long. Typically, the work day in Delhi does not start until 9:00 or 10:00, and workers will go home for an hour or so at lunch time.
- Language: Interns should not have much difficulty finding placement with an English-speaking internship, as educated professionals in Delhi are fluent in English. However, you should expect to experience a period of adjustment when learning to understand the English spoken in Delhi, which is derived from British English and is heavily seasoned with Hindi words and speech patterns. Interns will fall in love with the colorful English of Delhi and will surely pick up some fun sayings to bring home!
- Networking: There are many religious holidays and festivals celebrated in Delhi. While typically these celebrations are family affairs, you will find that people are excited to share their culture and history with foreigners and may invite you to join. Participating in such events is a great way to demonstrate your interest in the culture and community of Delhi. While some people do drink in Delhi, going out for drinks after work is not common, nor should interns expect this type of networking. You are more likely to be invited to a family meal or holiday celebration than for drinks. Indians are very aware of social status and hierarchy, and thus tend to do business first and foremost with people that they know. Take advantage of introductions that are made, and don't be surprised if it takes a little while for work relationships to develop.
Work and Labor Laws in Delhi
Assuming that you have obtained the appropriate visa (paid internships will require an employment visa, some unpaid academic internships may qualify for a student visa), there are no labor laws restricting international internships in India.