Enabling young changemakers through internships and volunteering

Shloka was elected an Ashoka Young Changemaker from India in May 2022. This story was written through a consultative process during their selection to our global community.

After searching far and wide for an internship, Shloka, a high school student, realized that most platforms that offer work experiences are only catered toward graduates and college students. This was troubling for her as she knew from personal experience that most high school students are on the constant lookout for opportunities to upskill themselves, to apply their learnings to practical, real-life problems- be it in the form of interning at a start-up or volunteering at an NGO.

To prove that this was a real problem, she went on to conduct a survey amongst 350 Indian high schoolers. The results were conclusive- 95% of the respondents were looking for work opportunities but didn’t know where to find them. Upon conducting further research, she learned that this lack of work opportunities for high schoolers gave way to a serious gap in the market. “Students want opportunities to apply their learning but since they don’t know where to look, they end up giving up their search. Having seen this issue affect my friends and classmates as well, I decided to find a way to change this,” she said.

Shloka was resolute in her belief that no student should be “denied the opportunity to learn and grow when they have the will and drive to excel.” She experimented with various ways she could address the problem. She finally settled on creating an online platform wherein high schoolers could browse and choose experiences relevant to them. “I crafted a business plan and spoke to various students, start-up founders, and NGOs to finetune the idea and began building a one-stop platform where students could find work, volunteer, and leadership opportunities. I confirmed that the organizations were willing and able to give meaningful opportunities to the students to ensure that it would be a purposeful experience for the students,” she explained.

This was the start of InternMee. The platform not only works to connect high schoolers with relevant work opportunities but also helps NGOs, social initiatives and student-run organizations find and recruit passionate volunteers and team members. “Therefore, our motto ‘experiences to excel’ perfectly captures the essence of InternMee,” remarked Shloka.
Their team of 15 consists of students ranging from grades 9-12 and they are proud to be a ‘for students, by students’ organization.

They are committed to their shared vision of making sure that “every high schooler around the world has the opportunity to face real-life problems and rise as problem solvers, thus effectively making them changemakers in their own domains”. As an online platform, they cater to students and organizations across the world. As of December 2021, they have already catered to 30,000 applications from students from over 80 countries and 1200 cities, with a successful matchmaking rate of 50%. Moreover, over 200 start-ups, NGOs, social initiatives, and student-led organizations have partnered with InternMee to connect with students seeking real-world experiences.

Shloka hopes to grow her platform multifield and shared that, “my team and I are determined to make such experiences accessible to all with no bias and discrimination in order to prepare the next generation of students to become the rising leaders of tomorrow.”

When asked about her ideas when it comes to problem-solving, she had some interesting insights to offer, “Whatever the problem is, it is important to start small but dream big. Starting locally and then eventually growing nationally and globally is the smartest way to scale an initiative. Starting clubs at schools, founding a social organization or initiative, and collaborating with student-led organizations for events are great ways to start working towards a problem.”  She believes that creating opportunities for fellow high schoolers to enable them to realize their own potential would ultimately pave the way for them to become changemakers themselves.

This story was written by Prachi Vats.