Internships in India: Work Experience with Knowledge Must

Posted by Peter Beyes • Friday, February 22, 2013 • Category: People and Places
Are you interested in doing an internship In India? Go for it - it's easier than you might think! The story of former Knowledge Must intern Julia is a great example. Longing to go back to India, where she spent a year as an exchange student when she was 16, Julia joined our team for three months in late 2012. Read on to find out how Julia got interested in India, her experience living in Delhi and how her time with Knowledge Must complemented her studies.

(c) Julia Schuhmacher

Please tell us something about your background. Where are you from, what are you doing now?

I'm 22 years old and come from Münster in north-west Germany, where I spent my entire time in school. Well, almost: Just like my two elder sisters - who went on student exchanges to the US - I wanted to study abroad for some time. But I wanted to go somewhere different, so I chose a rather unusual country: India. My year there affected me in many ways; personally and academically. After finishing high school in Germany, I enrolled in my current degree: BA in South Asian Studies and Economics at Heidelberg University.

What attracted you to doing an internship in India?

A three months internship in South Asia is compulsory for my course. North India / Delhi made sense academically because I study Hindi at university. More importantly, however, was the strong bond I had formed with India and its culture during my exchange year. Naturally, I jumped on the opportunity to come back to the country where I spent the most amazing year of my life.

How did you experience living in Delhi?

I really liked it. Delhi is a huge city, but I was surprised how quickly I found my way around. There were a lot of ups and downs trying to find a room – I've never experienced such a short-term lifestyle and spontaneity before. But ultimately, I was happily surprised how easily everything worked out. Anything is possible here, you just need to know where to go. From urban villages and gated communities to fancy artists' quarters, from traditional markets to highly modern malls, from the local dhaba (a small roadside restaurant) and chai-wallah (tea seller) to German bakeries, historic sights and cultural events – Delhi has it all! I believe it's a great town for foreigners who want to experience India but also don't want to miss all of the things they are used to.

Impressions from the dhabas of Shahpur Jat - a favourite among all of us at Knowledge Must. (c) Tobias Grossmann


How does Delhi compare to Shimla?

Shimla is rather small and offers much less activities than Delhi. It's the clean air, Himalayan view and nature you enjoy in Shimla. And maybe the monkeys that are running around everywhere. You must be more flexible, more “Indian”, when living in Shimla. However, this might be only my perspective, since I lived with an Indian family and went to an Indian school. Sometimes it could take weeks or even months before I saw another foreigner.

What are the differences between your everyday life in Germany and in India?

I am a student in Germany but was working in Delhi, so my daily routine was very different just because of that. In Germany, I go running regularly but I wouldn't have felt comfortable doing that in Delhi. At least not after work when it is already dark. On my weekends, on the other hand, I did much more than in Germany: traveling, sightseeing, meeting friends, enjoying bazaars and street food.

Can you tell us a little bit about your work. What did your typical workday with Knowledge Must look like, for example?

There isn't really such a thing as a “typical workday” at Knowledge Must. Most days were unique, my tasks and responsibilities very diverse. I helped with administration and social media, planned and booked trips for clients, wrote for the blog, was involved in planning and implementing advertisement campaigns and worked on translations. Working hours and lunch with the team provided a basic structure for my days, but activity-wise every day was different. I really liked that as I learnt many different things during my internship.

Engaging with the world from the heart of Delhi: The view from Knowledge Must's Shahpur Jat office (c) Tobias Grossmann


Which projects did you work on and what were your responsibilities?

My longest running project was coordinating social media for Knowledge Must. I was responsible for feeding the company's Facebook profile with news relevant to our customers. These could be upcoming courses or events, interesting facts about India and Germany, funny characteristics of the languages Hindi and German or anything else related to the company's field of work. For Travel Must I planned customised trips, booked cars, trains, hotels and guides and was responsible for customer care. The learning curve was quite steep: After a short introduction, I was quickly put in charge of my own clients. Initially, this felt like jumping in at the deep end but ultimately it provided me with great experiences during my internship.

What do you like about living and working in India? Which situations did you find challenging?

I like the calm and patience. Sitting in a stationary train in middle of nowhere for seven hours not knowing what's going on trained me a lot. Back in Germany, I don't lose it anymore when the train is running five minutes late. I also love street food and chai and getting around by autorickshaw in the often chaotic traffic. For a change to the strictly regulated traffic in Germany, this can actually be relaxing.

Challenging are those moments when you are simply perceived as 'the foreigner'. For example, male youths taking pictures of you with their mobiles, believing you don't realise it. Or beggars grabbing into your autorikshaw when you have to stop at a traffic light.

Do you speak any Hindi? How useful is Hindi for staying in Delhi?

During my student exchange programme, I learnt some basic phrases and sentences. At university, we are studying in a more structured way. We do a lot of grammar, for example. But my vocabulary is still very basic. For my internship, I did neither need nor use Hindi. If you are living in Delhi, basic knowledge of Hindi helps immensely. Travelling by rikshaw and bargaining with shopkeepers get so much easier if you speak their language.

Hindi helps immensely when doing your shopping. Although people speak English, many signboards, for example, are printed in Devanagari (Hindi Script) (c) Julia Schuhmacher


What were the most important lessons you learned during your internship?

Actually something quite simple: calling people. As my activities at Knowledge Must were largely of an organisational nature, it was important to get reliable answers fast. I have never called so many people so often with similar requests. I definitely lost my shyness of calling strangers and doing negotiations in a language other than my mother tongue.

Can you imagine doing another internship in India or trying to find a job here?

I can imagine doing another internship, maybe combining it with my master thesis. But I can't really imagine working in India, simply because I want to stay close to my family in Germany. But who knows what happens and how fast I'll be homesick for India again …

What would you tell people who are interested in doing an internship in India?

I would definitely encourage them to do so – it's an opportunity to experience a very different, non-touristic, perspective of the country. I would also recommend to learn at least some Hindi (or another relevant Indian language) before or during the stay. The smiles you get when speaking to people in their language is absolutely worth it!

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Are you interested in doing an internship in India? Contact Career Must now at : +91-(0)11-2469 1817 or send an email to: info@career-must.com

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