By Bhuvharshita Bhargava
There have been many posts about PUCL internships, and one solid reason why First-years flock to it for internships (no, not including people who apply for certificates- they don’t matter)- it changes you.
Starting from Day 1, you will see what I mean.
They don’t take funds from any organisations, individuals, anything. They function through interns. Which is why they really make you work. What you learn:
1. Diligence and Patience
There are no formalities- just go there and work. There could be anywhere, ranging from police stations, old-age homes, night- shelters to outside the home of a High Court judge (symbolic protest- I’m not making this up).
You go out, conduct your survey, get your questionnaires filled by rude (or surprisingly sweet) policemen, visit the sessions court and the High Court bench, learn about homosexuality in a bizarrely candid orientation/interaction session (high point of the internship). And go home.
But the day is far from over- you still have to write the report about your activities of the day! Everyday. For all that work, there’s no stipend. Maybe because being in the presence of brilliant, fiery and experienced people more than compensates for all the work you put in. For all the other expenses such as transport, be ready to lighten the weight of your wallet.
You, yes you of the NLU or that very pricey private law school dreaming of plush corporate jobs, will have to sit on the ground. Everyday.
You might even have to wash your dishes if you happen to visit a certain Gandhian place. And if you possess basic decency, you will, for the love of Gods and Goddesses, NOT EFFING CRIB ABOUT IT.
3. To be Sensitive and Appreciative
You will understand how Kavita Srivastava [the lady in the pic], Renuka Pamecha, Mamta Jaitly, Sumitra Chopra, Nisha Sidhu, Pawan Surana, Dr. Meeta Singh are more than names- they are phenomenal personalities, forces of nature.
Under their tutelage, you will be exposed to the atrocities against women, and how sexism pervades all our lives, and hopefully, if you’ve got that tint of rebellious nature or even basic decency and common sense, you will emerge a Feminist- with a capital F.
You will also learn to appreciate the courage and relentless dedication of these and many other equally adamant people.
They began working to destroy sexism decades ago while many of us still find it difficult to raise a feminist voice (reservation, regionalism, religious bigotry, sure. Feminism/sexism/ gender issues? As a feeling person and not a clinical academician? Uh-oh.)
They are going to turn your view of sexism upside down. You’ll learn about rape culture, prejudice, and discrimination at all levels.
A word of advice? Read up on these people. It can only help you take them all the more seriously. They’ve been there and done muchos more than that.
You will also have a sense of respect and admiration for NGOs- if not for their vigilance and activism, we would nearly be ruled by totalitarian governments.
4. Filter Trash
How good you want this experience to be depends upon you. There will always be people who think they are better than anybody who isn’t “up there earning zillions” or doesn’t share their opinions on issues or who they think are “good only for NGOs since they can get no real jobs”.
You’ll meet such people on a daily basis.
How well you handle them, or not believe they exist (highly complex) is up to you. If you can be unfazed by such obnoxious trash, you’ll see that you’ve hit gold with this internship.
And if you’re one of those obnoxious trashy beings, it’s best to change your attitude very much, very quickly, if you’re to take something back from this internship.
5. High Self-Worth
All that work you do isn’t for naught. Those reports you’ d make? Very real, and very helpful- consolidated reports are released at press meets (you get to talk to journos as well) and presented to officials, such as the Director of the State Police Academy, the Chairperson of State Women Commission and many such people.
This makes you feel infinitely better about yourself, and proud. You have finally stopped talking and started doing- maybe you’re still talking, but now it’s refined and informed talking!
1. Be mindful of the following:
2. Don’t apply for less than 4 weeks- unless you want to be slammed in public, royally.
3. Don’t be late. Ever. And don’t be late without informing whoever’s in charge, the consequence is another experience altogether.
4. Don’t shirk your job- these people are dead serious when it comes to work ethics, you don’t want to test them on this.
5. Stop cribbing about certificate- your uni will accept late submission if you give them an application. An internship, especially your first one, shouldn’t be confined to a certificate.
6. When there are visiting speakers, be respectful and pay attention. They may not speak the perfectly pronounced English or Hindi (alternatively, they may be better orators than you can ever hope to be, which is more likely the case).
What matters is the content. You can learn something from all of them. And contact them later for your research paper, the topic of which is what they talked about. Did that just wake you up?
7. Open your minds to new opinions and possibilities. Learn to have room for perspectives that are not the same as yours.
When you’re done, and if you’d be even mildly interested in what you would have gone through for 4 intense weeks, you will be a changed person.
And that feeling of having achieved something worthwhile, of having reached a milestone in your life, of having seen the real world, will stay with you, long after your internship. You will be an informed, cognizant and active person, and getting more so everyday.
And these are merely the benefits to your personality. Think of the good you’ll be doing the world by not being stuck-up, obnoxious and entitled brats, but having a grand vision for the world’s betterment, and actively working to realise it.
That, I believe, is what you should look for in an internship, not stipends or easy jobs.