I am the founder of DestIndia Internships. I started out in strategy consulting in London, then Venture Capital. The financial crisis hit London in 2008, and as a result, I decided to move to India to explore the opportunities there -- which led to the creation of DestIndia!
Did YOU intern abroad?! If so, where and what inspired you to go?
Yes, after graduating from university, I secured a two month internship at a in private equity in Hong Kong. I chose Hong Kong as a destination for a number of reasons ranging from the prominent position China was having in the world economy, the buzz of Hong Kong as a city to live in, and the fact I had quite a few friends there and saw this as an opportunity to make new friends.
What does the future hold for DestIndia -- any exciting new programs to share?
We have grown rapidly over the last few years and recently developed a cultural immersion program, which incorporates volunteering activities, with practical lessons in Hindi, Indian food, yoga, meditation, organic farming and village safaris.
Furthermore, which is very exciting, we were selected by a start-up accelerator in Brazil to expand into this beautiful country -- something we are currently in the process of!
What about the future of the industry? How do you think intern abroad and international education will change over the next 10 years?
In an increasingly global and competitive economy, it will become more imperative for new graduates to have a more varied global experience.
Employers will be looking to hire grads who have stretched themselves, who have taken the leap to gain work experience in their area of preference and in a foreign country. Another development will be more partnerships between universities and companies like DestIndia.
Which intern abroad destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?
I don’t think I am in a position to answer this questions as I haven’t spent enough time in enough countries to make a reasoned judgment.
I think all countries will have their merits and drawbacks, based on the individuals’ preferences -- the exciting thing is the world has so many great countries to experience -- it’s just a matter of the intern finding which environment best suits them!
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
For a growing company such as ourselves, I believe the most important thing is building a strong team with a shared vision for the future of the company. Fostering and developing the talent, getting the right mix of skills are the most important part of building a successful business.
Why is language learning and cultural immersion important to you?
For any curious person, learning about a new country by throwing yourself into all the different aspects of the culture is vitally important. One of the most effective ways of immersing oneself into the culture is through learning the language; communicating with the locals is the fastest way to truly understand a culture.
We believe this is very important and as such have developed our Cultural Immersion Program, which gives practical lessons into many aspects of Indian culture, including the language.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
Conceptualizing, launching and growing a company has been a huge learning curve. I have definitely become more responsible, become much better at multi-tasking, and become great at problem solving!
What was your favorite traveling experience?
A road trip along the coast of Brazil with group of my closest friends springs to mind. There are countless stories to tell, but in terms of a destination, the untouched, remote island of Cariiva was one of the highlights.
It’s a magical, simple place, where you can be hypnotized the vast number and size of the visible stars in the night sky.
What country have you always wanted to visit?
A country at the top of my ‘to do’ list is Peru as I would live to visit Machu Pichu.
What language have you always wanted to learn and why?
Probably one of the Latin based languages as it makes learning the other ones easier! In terms of increasing global importance, Mandarin would be a great, yet very difficult, choice.
What unique qualities does your company possess?
We offer a very personalized service to our prospective interns to truly understand the type of experience they are looking for, and then match them with the most relevant company. We try to be inclusive to as many prospective interns by keeping our program costs down to a minimum.
Furthermore, we have a very strict selection process when partnering with companies -- only the most reputable companies who can offer the best internship experience are partnered with. Finally, we are very flexible with the regards to the timing and duration of the interns experience to fit in with their schedule.
What changes would you make to the intern abroad industry?
The vast majority of companies in this industry pricing structure ensures that the internship experience is only preserve of the relatively wealthy -- it accessible to a minority of students and graduates. We strongly believe at international internship experience should be accessible to the majority, without compromising on quality.
I also believe there should be stronger links between higher education institutions and companies like DestIndia. We have put time and effort to build a great network of companies to offer internships, and this would be very beneficial to the university’s students.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
One of our interns created a blog during her time in India. She was a fashion designer, and was volunteering with a women’s empowerment organization helping them learn skills to become self sustainable.
She was designing, creating, and teaching the women how to make handbags and jewelry, which they could sell to local shops and markets. Her blog became so popular in France, she managed to win contracts with shops in France for the products she and her women’s empowerment group were making. So through social media she had helped the women develop an international business!
What does your home-country's culture value that is taught in your program?
I don’t mean to get all existential, but a key value we truly believe in is to make the most of your time while you’re here. I went to LSE, a highly competitive university where everyone was in a rush to secure a job in an investment bank, a management consultancy, or corporate Law firm. There is nothing wrong with going into such a career, but before embarking on it full time, I think everyone should have the opportunity to live and work abroad.
This will open their eyes to new cultures, ideas and perspectives. It may give young people a new direction, and give them insights into news paths to take in life. It is not just the professional development, but also the personal development we strongly believe in, too.