I was part of the summer of 2011 India immersion program. It was an exciting program because although InternshipDesk has a lot of experience with sending interns to China, India was kind of a brand new venture and to be part of the first group was a really exciting experience.
It was the summer of my sophomore year and it was one of the first times I have really gotten to travel by myself. I really didn't know anyone else in the group so naturally I was a little nervous going to a country across the world with a group of other interns that I have never met before. But one thing that InternshipDesk did that really erased all those feelings was that first weekend trip to the Himalayas that we all took as a group. Business and professionalism set aside, when we were trekking the Himalayas together we instantly became a family. I got to know each and every one of the other interns on a personal level and it gave me a small community in India that I grew to trust.
I worked for Medsave, a TPA that handled healthcare and medical insurance. After gaining a little info about the company, they had me going out to enrollment camps to help setup and actually get some hands on work in the enrollment process of the RSBY healthcare program designed to give healthcare to the millions of people living below the poverty line. The experience was unbelievable and really helped to put everything I learned in the States in a different perspective, especially as a sophomore in college.
Other than just the work aspect, there were plenty of cultural experiences that helped make this one of the most unforgettable summers of my life. We had weekly business talks with leaders of a wide variety of different industries, one even including one of the leaders of the World Bank! There were also trips to Agra, Jaipur, and Amritsar to see places like the Golden Temple, the Taj Mahal and handicraft emporiums that really helped submerge me in an Indian culture that I never thought would be so beautiful.
Some tips I would have for anyone going on this trip are:
1) Definitely be aware of what you are eating and drinking! Always eat fruits that you have to peel yourself, always drink bottled water, and make sure the food you are eating is hot and fresh (Aka not been sitting out for a while). Although it might take some time for your stomach to get used to the food, the combination of herbs and spices used in making some of the dahls and currys are absolutely delicious! Chicken Korma and Paneer have become two of my favorite foods.
2) Make the most of your off weekends. You are going to have weekends that you have free, definitely take the time to travel around the beautiful country. Not only because every region has an entirely different vibe to it, but because riding the train across India is a whole experience in itself, not to mention incredibly affordable! Just make sure to plan a week ahead or so in order to get everything organized. The staff is really good at helping you set trips up.
3) Soak in the culture. India is a country so rich in culture that once you finally leave your comfort zone enough to see it, it truly is amazing. Go out to a park, play a pickup game of soccer or basketball or their favorite – cricket. Go to a local coffee shop on open mic night. Listen to walk people have to say, it’s incredible how friendly the natives are. They love to hear your stories as well as share theirs (while practicing their English). The majority of them want nothing more than to show you how “brotherly” they are (and maybe take a picture with you).
What would you improve about this program?
Although this was no doubt the most exciting experience of my life, if I had to change a couple things they would be:
The entrepreneur project that we were assigned to do by the end of the trip had no real deadlines or clear guidelines. I would say make it a more structured project or get rid of it entirely. It almost became an unnecessary stress by the end of the trip
More Hindi language. Although we did learn some basic words and expressions, it would have been nice to be able to communicate with the locals on a basic level.