Student Stories: Lauren Calvert

Lauren shares her internship experience in Mumbai.

"The culture in Mumbai was unlike anything I had experienced before! Although seemingly chaotic, there is a vibrancy and spirituality to everything that goes on around you. That being said, it is certainly a city with many challenges. Witnessing this within the context of an otherwise animated community, however, was something quite spectacular.

"The team at CDES were instrumental in facilitating our predeparture turn-around. We received funding later than most groups, so the pressure was on to get everything organised in time! It was comforting to have CDES coordinating an otherwise chaotic process.

"The opportunity to work within a renowned child rights organisation, such as CRY, would have been one I was unlikely to achieve in New Zealand. I quickly learnt that it is one thing to read about child rights, but a very different thing to be on the ground enacting that change. As a result, my experience interning in India proved to be very rewarding.

"The scale and diversity of issues CRY addressed was eye-opening and incredibly humbling. Subsequently, I gained an appreciation for child rights and their critical nature for India’s vulnerable youth population, as well as an understanding of how socio-economic factors
influence the livelihoods of mumbaikan communities. This experience provided crucial application opportunities for my studies in anthropology, politics, and psychology, and is something I look forward to incorporating into my academic work.

"Working alongside CRY also allowed insight into essential NGO operations and procedures. This exposed me to new career pathways, ones I otherwise might not have considered, and gave a taste of what the social development sector had to offer. Moving forward in my academic and professional life, I intend to consider this option seriously. I’ve found social development to be incredibly fulfilling.

"As part of the orientation process, we were fortunate to have a few activities organised by our host provider, AIC, around local customs and cuisines. We also took it upon ourselves to arranged many extra adventures. The Taj Mahal (Agra) was as beautiful as imagined, and Swaminarayan Akshardham (New Delhi) was an unexpected favourite. Experiencing Bollywood dancing is also a must! Whilst you can feel a little silly at first, even for someone with a dance background, it is one of the best ways to appreciate India’s vibrant and festive culture.

"After returning home, I found that I struggled to truly appreciate the enormity of what I had achieved. I think it is important to accept that reflection can take time, and to be patient. I now find myself in engaging conversations with Indian co-workers and friends on food and culture, and can understanding nuanced jokes in TV shows and movies! It's always rewarding to make new connections, especially ones you might have missed otherwise. My experiences now feel part of my daily life, and for that I am grateful.

I would absolutely recommend an overseas internship! Beyond personal development, there is an increasing demand for professional job applicants to be well experienced, as well as educated. In other words, there is limited merit in 'book-smarts', without the ability to integrate practical, social contexts. My internship with CRY allowed me to develop this duality. I have no doubt an overseas internship would do the same for you.

"To future interns – be open-minded and willing to immerse yourself within a new culture. Expect to be thrown in the deep end and be okay with not having all the answers. This experience is about growth and development; personally, professionally and academically. If it was easy there would be no point!"