Thursday, April 02, 2009

Creating more opportunity in the social sector amongst the youth

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Nitin Rao, a NIT Surathkal alumnus started E4SI (while still in college!), a unique fellowship program that helps the engineers from top institutes to spend their summer interning in an organization that’s working for a social cause.

Now in its second year, the number of applications that the folks at E4SI received this year increased by a phenomenal amount. Most of the publicity was word of mouth. But the point I am trying to address is a different one.

Now that E4SI is expanding, it will start receiving even more number of entries. With 400-500 people fighting for the 24 coveted slots, many good (and deserving) candidates are bound to lose out. Clearly after a point of time even the judges can’t be objective.

At such a juncture it would be a great idea to create a group (say on Facebook) with the profiles of the candidates who just missed out. These are high potential candidates who would fit in other similar organizations as well. Social enterprises looking for high potential talent will find this resource highly beneficial. The students will also be grateful for its only the facilitation that is lacking in this space. The students are willing and the organizations I am sure are in need of brain power.

This is something world famous marketer and Acumen Fund supporter Seth Godin did when he announced his internship for college students. This helped spread goodwill as well as showed the candidates that Seth cared for the initiative they took to apply for his internship. Obviously the Seth Godin brand name helped the others find decent offers for their summer as well.

And that’s something Taya over at Next Billion has blogged about.

    What strikes me most about the opportunities at these organizations is their exclusivity-in the sense that they cull the "best of the best" through limited edition fellowships. Just to be clear, I have no problem with the notion of wielding the power of the "best and brightest" to tackle the world's problems. In fact, it's a rather poignant reversal of fortune; usually the least powerful members of society are stuck with the worst resources. However, after the superstars are chosen, I wonder what happens to the "best of the rest" and the "rest of the rest." Presumably, the folks who apply to these programs are smart, ambitious, values-driven, change makers in the making. What I wonder is, "what happens to these people?" Is their energy and enthusiasm lost or is it simply redirected? How can we tell? Do we care?

While I have taken E4SI as an example, I would extend the suggestion to other similar initiatives as well such as Kiva, Acumen Fund etc. Using an already existing brand name to indirectly vouch for equally deserving candidates to enter into the developmental sector.

Cross posted on the Mutiny


Vineet Pandey

Very well put.


Taya has made a point which is relevant not only for the situation you have presented but in general for any place where there is immense competition for a few slots? No one really bothers about 'best of the rest' and 'rest of the rest'

Also I think it would be better if you could put up the profiles of those people who missed out on internships on the e4si website itself and state your purpose for doing so. You can market it on networks like twitter and facebook and direct em towards the site.

Rishabh Kaul

@vineet: thanks

@vemana: good suggestion. And somehow people just say that there's too much competition for everything in India. I don't find that as a strong enough argument to prevent us from promoting the almost winners.


I was following e4si since its inception and I think it has reached a kind of success by now.But, regarding your suggestion.. My views contradict yours,,,

First thing, how many will give weight to the recommendation of e4si. If at all, there are many of them, why aren't they offering internships via e4si?If they don't have internships available at them, then wat is the advantage of them knowing merit of them?

On an another note, I would say them to provide participation or some kind of certificates of appreciation to the students so that they might be useful to them in future for their resumes..but again as e4si is not commercial venture, I think this idea doesn't hold good.

Rishabh Kaul

The idea here is to let bigger brands who have already created a name of themselves vouch for deserving candidates.

E4SI was merely an example. At the same time there are few programmes which help students find for profit internships in the developmental sector, E4SI isnt that big yet, but wait for a couple of years more. However, by essence since its a fellowship not many people will get selected, all I am saying is to also promote others who missed out on their website.

About giving weight to E4SI, most of the partner companies that e4si has tie ups are founded by alums of hge B Schools like Wharton, MIT, Stanford, so I dont think credibility should be an issue.


Agreed! A nice explanation indeed

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