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People Greater Than Profits: Sarvesh Agarwal, Internshala

Building a team is hard, building a culture is harder. As a team, we spent a lot of time thinking and debating about values and actions that are important to us and will define your culture

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Internshala is a dotcom business with the heart of dot org. It is basically a technology company on a mission to equip students with relevant skills and practical exposure through internships and online trainings. Internshala is India’s No. 1 internship and training platform with 40,000+ paid internships in Engineering, MBA, media, law, arts, and other streams.

On The Importance Of People And Profits
People > Profits is one of the core principles on which Internshala culture and business stand and, over the years, my belief has only strengthened. Whether one reads it as ‘people greater than profits’ or as ‘people lead to profits’ – the essence is same.

This is not to say that one should not care about profits but rather to say that as long as you keep people first – be it your customers or your team members – the profits would follow. There is immense freedom (both creative as well as from processes) for everyone in the team and we have a policy of no fixed number of holidays in a year (you can take as many as you want) – everyone appreciates this and things get done on time without anyone having to follow up.

As long as you continue to treat people the way you would like to be treated yourself; the universe has a way to figure things out for you.

On what makes internshala a great place to work
Internshala is among the best places to work in India, it is only because of the team (current and ex) who played an essential role in shaping it by creating and upholding our 11 culture values. What sets Internshala apart is our laser-focus on building a great culture. Building a team is hard, building a culture is harder. As a team, we spent a lot of time thinking and debating about values and actions that are important to us and will define our culture. We started living them as a way of life. Also, relentless pursuit of excellence drives us to push the bar higher in everything we do. Our culture of users helped us become an extremely customer centric organisation.  

On the company’s evolution
Internshala as a blog focusing on internships started in December 2010 along with my day job. Once it became popular among students who were looking for internships and startups who were looking for interns; I quit my job and started devoting full time to it. For the initial two years, I was operating out of a study room in my home in Gurgaon and had a team of virtual interns (hired through Internshala). Gradually we built a team, moved to an office, turned the blog into a full-fledged platform. Today, we are world’s largest internship and online training platform in terms of users and an 80-member team based out of Gurgaon.  

On People philosophy
Internshala is a place where the team members excel in ownership. I believe that if we give the team the freedom to take decisions, they are able to own their work and give better shape to it. We look for 3 Hs: Humility, Honesty, and Hardwork – in all our team members and invest lot of time in hiring the right person who is both culturally and skill wise a good fit.

We believe once we have made this kind of investment in hiring, we shouldn’t spend time in micromanaging them. We believe a great workplace is nothing but challenging work, inspiring colleagues, and tonnes of creative freedom.

On the company’s road map
Internshala is just getting started. While we will continue to strengthen our presence in cities and metros (where most of the current students and internships come from), we have also started concentrated efforts in smaller cities (and towns and villages subsequently) to take the message of meaningful internships and online trainings to youth there as well.

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