NGO Design Internship gave me perspective of grassroots challenges

NGO Design Internship gave me perspective of grassroots challenges

Thinking of different career tracks? Learn from Shreepada's intern experience, of how she became inclined towards NGOs after her design internship in one.


Shreepada shares her intern experience as an NGO design intern.
Shreepada shares her intern experience as an NGO design intern.

‘I want to pursue a career in designing’.

This sentence has been met with resistance in many Indian homes. A career in design is still such a novel idea in India’s cities and towns that youngsters still need to go through a lot of struggle. Designing is often mistaken as only fashion design, which is again mistaken as only designing fashionable clothes.

But design is an all-encompassing field, right from product design to textile design; the range where design can be applied is mindboggling.

Shreeprada Shrivastava is one such youngster who went through the struggle to study design. She spoke to us about her passion for design and her internship experience which was important for her to gain industry skills. Here is what she has to say –

Tell us about your journey to the design field.

I always wanted to pursue a career in designing but my parents didn’t find it a lucrative and stable career. At that time even I wasn’t sure and decided to go along with my next best option – Management. I completed my BBA but my mind was always in designing and I started researching more on what are the careers in designing and narrowing down on my interest.

Finally, after a lot of research, I convinced my parents and joined IICD, Indian Institute of Crafts and Design in Jaipur to pursue my Masters in Design in Soft Material.

What kind of research helped you in this pursuit?

I always question, it may seem like something insignificant or stupid even then I go forth and question. This questioning attitude has helped me in choosing my career as well as an internship. My basic search started online, where I got all the basic information about the design.

After that, my quest expanded to friends and other students who were pursuing design. I had enrolled at a coaching centre to crack my IICD exam and there I met a lot of other students who had completed their graduation in design. They were my biggest source of real-time information and I didn’t stop there, I asked to connect to their seniors to understand the job prospects of a design career and what opportunities would be available to me.

I used this similar research while searching for my choice of design internship. We were given a list of NGOs to choose from. I researched the kind of work they do, spoke to seniors who had already interned there and got their feedback. I never stop researching and questioning!

Where did you do your internship and what kind of work you were involved in?

I took up an NGO Internship with Sahaj, an NGO which works with tribal women in Eastern Gujarat. They focus on women empowerment and providing employment to the women from their homes. They have products in home furnishing, stationery, accessories and furniture on which the women work. I and a couple of others from my college interned at their Dahod office in Gujarat.

The NGO was just setting up a design office where they plan to design their own products and constantly innovate. My work was to create design sheets for their existing products. A design sheet is essentially like the blueprint of a product with all the specifications about dimensions, fabric, design etc.

This is critical because this is the foundation of the design process. My classmates who have already done their graduation in design knew this concept but for me it was novel and extremely critical that I get it right.

What did you learn from the internship?

Apart from the design sheet experience, I also got an insight into the work processes involved in both design and at an NGO. I am personally interested in block printing and the technique is applied in similar products. It helped me understand the tiny details of setting up a workflow for the women, sourcing of raw materials and ensuring the finished products meet quality standards for clients.

This insight was important to me as it would help my design career ahead. I also got to see the working conditions of the women and how my work would impact them. We also had a field visit to a small village called Bhamatalai where we saw the products being made.

What’s ahead for you?

I am still in the 1st Year of my course and figuring out the various options I have. I am specialising in soft materials which means I will be taught designing with leather, textile, paper and natural fibres. I am personally leaning towards working in block printing however the next year will help me decide.

I am also keen on working with NGOs after graduation as I have learnt that they provide a lot of freedom to designers and form the perfect foundation for a successful career in design.

Did you like this story about Shreeprada’s design internship? Let us know in the comments below and reach out to us if you have any queries. If you are pursuing any such interesting internship let us know and we would love to feature you. Follow our blog for more internship stories and advice here.