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My Internship Experience with Outline India: A Sneak Peek into Technology for Social Change

If someone told me a few months ago that I will look at technology and think of how empowering it can be for social good, I would not have believed them. So, what changed in the few weeks? Read on.

A few months ago, a six week study program in India was advertised by the College of Asia and the Pacific at The Australian National University. It involved spending three weeks in an India immersion program at O.P. Jindal Global University and a three week internship in New Delhi. Titled “Dive into New Delhi: India in Context”, the immersion program, which was meant for academic credit, centered around foreign policy, society and culture. Under the New Colombo Plan of The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which aims to promote Australia’s diplomatic relations and networks within the Indo-Pacific region, grants were also being made available to students awarded a place on this program. For the application, we wrote about our interests, previous experiences and how this opportunity meets the objectives of the New Colombo Plan Program. Niroshnee, Gabriella and I expressed interest in the program and wanted to engage  in the areas of sustainable development, female empowerment, climate change and research. And yes, we got through!

Working with the Outline India team

After our immersion program, and a week before the commencement of the internship, we were told that we had been placed with Outline India. An introduction with the team through email followed, and we were thrilled to be interning here.

From day one, our feedback and opinions were valued constantly and our input has been incorporated into the decision making for the work projects of the team. Specifically, our engagement was more with the cross-platform tool, Track Your Metrics (TYM). Based on our academic and social perspective, we provided feedback on the platform and the communication surrounding the platform. The small size of the organisation gave us a well-rounded understanding of the contrasting components needed to make up a firm like this, something we would have missed out on in a large organisation. Having so much of the firm’s work taking place in close proximity to us has been exciting and interesting to watch.  We’ve interacted with most of the team here and everyone has been generous with their time and knowledge. We enjoyed learning about the organisation’s past and ongoing research projects and were thrilled to learn their cautionary tales from the field.

Until now, we only had an academic understanding of research contexts, but working with a research organisation of this kind helped fill gaps in our knowledge about ethical research and the utility of project monitoring from the perspective of an organisation. Among our many takeaways, one that stands out is our experience of navigating interactions with different groups, followed closely by our newly acquired awareness about the importance of research in social progress.

Our Action Plan

During our first week here, we worked at the Global Action for Poverty conference in Ahmadabad and pitched Track Your Metrics to potential new clients. Being given the responsibility to represent the platform demonstrated a massive vote of confidence and trust in our abilities on Outline India’s part. This aspect of the internship was incredibly conducive to developing our professional confidence and we’re grateful for being thrown into the deep end right from the start.

Over the course of three weeks, we worked on a diverse range of tasks and projects which has exposed us to multiple ends of the organisation and we’ve gained many new skills as a result. We’ve also had autonomy over our own work and have been given creative freedom to experiment.

Having learnt so much about research in a short period of time, we can now appreciate the utility that TYM as a tool can provide for organisations in the social sector and for the country’s development holistically. It’s been incredibly fulfilling to represent an organisation and a platform that we all believe in. The exposure this internship has given us, has provided a fresh perspective on not only our tertiary studies, but also our perceptions of the field of development, expanding our career horizons.

Despite spending six weeks in India, it still feels like we’ve barely dipped our toe in the water and have only just started to engage with India’s social sector and the global field of development. Having had a taste of all these spheres, we will undoubtedly be back for more.

It felt bittersweet as the internship came to an end, but we said our goodbyes to the team and the country and headed back home to Australia. This experience has exceeded our expectations and given us a window into so many areas of Indian society and the social sector that we would have never had the opportunity to witness otherwise.

Zoee Mylordis is a student at The Australian National University, studying in the Bachelor of International Relations and Bachelor of Philosophy, Politics and Economics program. She interned with Outline India for 3 weeks during January – February 2019.

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