International Summer School, New Delhi | The Careers Service International Summer School, New Delhi – Oxford University Careers Service
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These profiles are written by students who interned at International Summer School, New Delhi, New Delhi, India, in the summer of 2018 through the Summer Internship Programme.

Samphire Cassidy

2nd year undergraduate, BA Jurisprudence, Hertford College

Work Projects

I was given the Accountant role on the summer school. I got to lectures a little early each morning to write a thank you letter to the lecturer and print out a receipt for them. At the end of each lecture I paid them and kept track of general expenditures. In the final week of the internship, after the other students had left, I completed general admin tasks. It was a very relaxed role and my supervisor was very friendly and approachable.

In addition to this, I participated in the academic programme and provided a general supporting role to the other students. In the final two weeks of the summer school, I enjoyed the service learning project and tours of Rajasthan, while keeping track of the receipts from each attraction we visited and place we stayed.

Daily Life

For the first four weeks of the academic programme I attended morning lectures and did a small amount of accountancy work. The lectures spanned a wide variety of topics including the history, architecture, politics and culture. It was easy to become friends with the other students, who attended universities around the world, as I shared a room with two others and often had free time in the afternoons and evenings to socialise and explore New Delhi.

In the afternoons we would often have special interactions with prominent figures including a visit to the India Today office meeting prominent journalists, meeting a Supreme Court judge and visiting a Think Tank. In the final two weeks we completed a service learning project with the WWF in Keoladeo National Park and visited a school in a slum. It was an eye-opening opportunity that I am incredibly thankful for.

Lasting Impressions

I am hugely grateful to the academic programme for providing the opportunity to examine the history and politics surrounding India as a nation. When visiting sites such as the Red Fort and Taj Mahal, my background understanding of the nation helped me to situate these beautiful architectural masterpieces into the cultural and historical context of the time. During the lectures, I had the opportunity to not only engage with renowned academics, but also share insights with students from seventeen different nations. I am not sure it is truly possible to fully understand India, but this international lens helped me to further understand the complexity and diversity of this incredible country. I would certainly love to return one day to live or work.

Through living in Delhi for six weeks, it began to feel like a home. The novelties of crossing the traffic or haggling for a rickshaw ride became part of everyday life, and we felt welcomed into the city. While we laughed about our differences, we felt like a family. I expected to learn about India, I never expected to learn so much about Mauritius, Mexico, Lebanon and the many other countries of my new friends, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to explore new ideas together. The world is an enormous, magnificent place, but the ISS helped it feel a little smaller and brought us closer together through giving us shared experiences that we will carry with us forever.

Advice

Future interns; make the most of your time and do as much as you can to explore the country and culture! Dont worry too much about the work itself. If you have the time and funds, I would also strongly recommend you travel afterwards. Or at least get cancellation on your flights in case you change your mind. Please do get in contact, I’d be very happy to tell you more about it in person.

 

 

Cassandra Gibbons

Final year undergraduate, BA Modern Languages (French & Spanish), Queen’s College

Work Projects

I shared the Marketing & Communications and Academic Assistant roles with one intern, and the third intern was in charge of accounting, though we ended up working collaboratively some of the time. The job of the Academic Assistant involved introducing lecturers, taking notes during their lectures to write course summaries and communicating with the lecturers via email to get reading lists from them (the summaries and reading lists were then shared with the students to help them with writing their essays).

I also formatted the ISS magazine (which formed a part of the Marketing & Communications role) and was jointly responsible for magazine content creation. There were some other administrative tasks during the internship which the three of us shared. We were well supported by ISS staff, who explained to us what to do and gave us feedback whenever necessary.

Daily Life

The first four weeks comprised the academic part of the programme. We would have breakfast at the youth hostel we were staying at (I shared a room with two of the students – the interns were sharing with the students, and we formed close friendships with them) and then walked 10 minutes to Teen Murti House where we would have two lectures (each lasting up to 90 minutes) on topics ranging from economics to politics to history to cinema – all about India. Some were more interesting than others, but overall it was a great experience learning so much about India from top academics. Some afternoons we would have special interactions with special guest speakers or we would take a bus to a think tank. Then we (the interns) would explore New Delhi with the other students, with whom we got on really well. We would sometimes eat in the hostel, and sometimes go out for food (prices were very cheap).

The two weeks following the academic section comprised the ‘service learning’ part of the programme. We spent four days working with WWF-India in Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur, learning about ecological, social and political issues and eventually giving a presentation on our findings. We then visited Jaipur for a few days, which was a great experience and a nice break from work. We then spent three days doing volunteer work in New Delhi with a charity – most students worked with young disadvantaged children, though I and a few other students worked with disadvantaged young adults, doing activities and getting to know them, which was also a great experience.

The final week of the internship all the students had gone home and we spent the week mainly doing the magazine, as well as tying up loose ends. As a part of the programme we also had the chance to do group day trips in New Delhi and also to the Taj Mahal. As students we also organised day trips as well as afternoon trips to places within the city. I made really good friends and we spent lots of time together playing games as well as eating and going out.

Lasting Impressions

The internship was a really great experience and I would highly recommend it. It has not especially changed my career plans. The work I was doing in India is not the kind of thing I was planning to explore now that I’ve finished my degree, and although it was a good experience overall I don’t wish to pursue work in the academic sector in the future. I did enjoy formatting the magazine though, which has confirmed to me that I would like to work in a creative sector like Marketing or Publishing.

India is a truly incredible country and I’m so glad I got to visit it whilst doing a cultural exchange, as it’s a much better way to experience a country than a holiday. It is a very intense environment to live in (heat, traffic, pollution, etc.), so I don’t think I would move there long-term in the future. The heat can be difficult to deal with, although I feel like I adapted quite well and by the end it didn’t really bother me.

Advice

I think this internship is a great opportunity but it is quite intense (culture shock, the heat, etc.) so that is something that needs to be taken into consideration before applying. The student visa is quite expensive (mine, with a British passport, cost £180) and is not covered by ISS (neither is airfare) although the cost of living in India (aside from accommodation and half the meals, which are covered) is very cheap. It might be worth looking into potential travel grants or seeking financial assistance to cover these expenses if necessary. Bug spray and sunscreen are a must, and stay in groups while venturing out (nothing bad happened to any of the interns or students to my knowledge this year, but India is much more dangerous than the UK). But overall I would say that it’s a really great opportunity to throw yourself into!

 

Intercultural Events intern, 2018

1st year undergraduate, BA Philosophy, Politics and Economics

Work Projects

The internship with the International Summer School, New Delhi has two dimensions. Firstly, as an intern, I was tasked with managing the programme’s communications. This included liaising with partner institutions, communicating formally with the students, and running three social media accounts. Additionally, within this role I was responsible, alongside another of the three interns, for the production of a course magazine. My role therein specifically focused on producing and editing articles, profiles and academic content for said magazine over the course of a week after the programme had finished.

Secondly, I was also expected to fully enrol in the programme I was helping to run. All three interns were thus expected to attend daily lectures and special interactions, participate in all tours and cultural exchange events, and complete fieldwork in a neighbouring state. The host organisation provided excellent support throughout the course of the internship. All three interns were in daily contact with the programme’s Deputy Director, and also frequently engaged with the Course Director. Generally, meetings with the Director would establish work requiring completion, whilst queries and issues were handled by the Deputy Director, both of whom we got to know very well and developed strong personal relationships with.

Daily Life

During the academic programme, days would be split into the mornings, during which we would attend two 90-minute lectures, and the afternoons, when we would often take part in ‘special interactions’ with leading figures from Indian society. Such interactions included meeting a Supreme Court Justice, a leading news anchor, serving government ministers, authors, diplomats, and civil servants.

At the weekends, two tours of Delhi were organised, as was a day-trip to Agra. In the evenings, the interns were expected to fully engage with the 20-strong student body, with whom we were living. Strong personal friendships were developed with students from all over the world, including Mauritius, Lebanon, Mexico, Syria and Afghanistan, and much time was spent exploring Delhi together.

In the second half of the programme, we completed field-work with the WWF in Rajasthan, and then volunteered in deprived schools across the National Capital Region. Formal work as part of the internship generally fitted around these student-based obligations. The three of us tended to complete our assigned roles in the evenings and at the weekends, or in the afternoons if no special interaction had been organised.

Lasting Impressions

The internship was a fantastic opportunity to combine gaining valuable work-experience with a formal opportunity to explore a fascinating country. The lecture series offered incredible insights into Indian politics, society and history, as we were introduced to the country by a range of world-leading Indian scholars, whilst the service-learning component of the programme allowed me to experience the country from a perspective inaccessible to either a more standard internship or those simply travelling.

Additionally, the fact that the programme combines students from 18 different countries sets an incredible backdrop of cultural exchange and understanding; I was lucky enough not only to engage with a consciously Indian perspective on global affairs, but also with the perspectives of students from countries as diverse as Pakistan, Paraguay, Switzerland and Australia.

I definitely plan to return to India. I will be applying for additional internships in India next year, having enjoyed such a fascinating and rewarding trip this summer. I am undecided on my career ambitions as of yet, although the way this internship has offered a mix of experiences in pragmatic academia, diplomacy, cultural exchange, and international development has confirmed to me the nature of the work I wish to involve myself in for the future.