Looking for an internship? Online startup Internshala can help

Internshala helped 21,000 students secure internships in 2015-16 and has already placed 42,000 students in 2016-17.

In Pic: Sarvesh Agrawal, Founder, Internshala, which now runs 16 skills training programmes— Android, digital marketing, IoT, Excel, among others.
Born into a business family, Sarvesh Agrawal always wanted to be an entrepreneur. Upon graduating in civil engineering from IIT Madras, he took up a job with financial services firm Capital One in the UK, and at the same time began thinking about starting a business. Education was Agrawal’s area of interest. He returned to India in 2008 and kept experimenting with different ideas before settling on creating an internship platform for students. “Meaningful internships can help train students in the skills required by companies as well as give them the experience needed to make the right career choices,” says Agrawal.

In 2010, he started a blog, Internshala, to help students gain work experience through internships. “There wasn’t any substantial effort being made in this area, so I decided to take this up,” says Agrawal. In September 2011, he incorporated Internshala—still a blog at this point—as a company. The first big challenge for Agrawal was to transform Internshala from a listings blog to an online platform, which, besides providing internship opportunities, could also help students gain the skills required to land good internships. “I had studied civil engineering and knew nothing about programming. I needed somebody with tech expertise to build the platform,” says Agrawal. He found a freelance tech expert who was willing to build the platform for him, but needed a team for assistance. So, a group of interns were hired through Internshala for the job. Finally, the startup made its transition from a blog to a Web portal in October 2013. It now has 1.5 million registered students and 40,000 organisations on its platform. Internshala app, launched in September 2015, has seen 1.8 lakh Play Store downloads. “It is the world’s most downloaded internship app,” says Agrawal.

Gurgaon-based Internshala, which started its skills programme with a training on Web development with a batch of 150 students, now runs 16 skills training programmes— Android, digital marketing, IoT, Excel, among others. Yearly enrolments for the training programmes have grown to around 20,000. While checking for internships is free, training programmes cost an average Rs 2,500. Besides aiding students, the skills training service has helped overcome the startup’s revenue challenge as well—earlier it had been relying solely on advertisement revenue from the blog. “Once we launched the online training platform, our revenue problem was largely solved,” says Agrawal. From just Rs 6 lakh in 2011-12, the startup grew its revenue to Rs 1.2 crore in 2015-16. “We are likely to see a three-fold increase in our revenue in 2016-17,” says Agrawal.

The startup helped 21,000 students secure internships in 2015-16 and has already placed 42,000 students in 2016-17. The skills training programmes have been instrumental in students finding internships. “Far too many students lack the necessary technical and soft skills to get an internship, and so their applications get rejected. We help students get past this hurdle,” says Agrawal.

Unfazed by competition, the 33-year-old founder says Internshala is many times bigger than its competitors in terms of student enrolments and Web traffic. Strong processes, focus on paid internships and free registrations give it an edge. “Companies list with us for free and students have a free access to them—unlike other similar portals. Besides, we list only internships that come with a stipend—except in the case of NGOs—and verify each company before listing it,” says Agrawal.

As Internshala continues to strengthen its presence in the metros and tier-1 cities, it is now also looking at concentrating on smaller cities. “This is in line with our mission of putting a meaningful internship on every resume, and there is no dearth of talent in tier-2 and tier-3 cities,” says Agrawal.
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