From Interest to Action – My internship experience with Saahas Zero Waste

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It was August 2016, after completing my second year of four-year course in Bachelor of Technology in Chemical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) Varanasi, the race for getting an internship from campus started. I was still confused and baffled with my thoughts, pondering which company to apply for. Companies like Reliance, Hindustan Unilever, Axsiom, Olam International, JSW, TRDDC, Vasant Chemicals, Nicobar, BL Agro, etc. etc. were on the board and were also giving whooping stipends luring the students. I studied courses like Energy Resource and Utilisation, Industrial Pollution Control, Environmental Pollution Control and Environment Management in Coal Preparation Plant and I found that these were the first subjects in which I secured ‘A’ grade in my academic curriculum.

I have found my interest, not because of the grade but the reason for that grade. I always had a feeling to do something which has a social impact, and through Solid Waste Management, I could do that.

I took one project on Solid Waste Management in IIT BHU under the supervision of a Ph.D. mentor and found it really interesting. I was feeling lucky, the time at which fellow students were running for companies from any sector, still undecided about their future, I was here who was looking future in the field of Solid Waste Management. Later, I took my undergraduate project also on Solid Waste Management topic.

With the help of few seniors, I listed down all the companies coming for campus recruitment and found there was none in the field of Solid Waste Management. By the time my friends were aware of my interest, they started calling me “kude kachra uthaane wala” and “bhai mera bhi utha liya karna”.

I gently replied them – of course, I will, but I will deal only with bulk. My friends were getting shortlisted for different companies and getting internship offer but I was still undecided which company to apply for. I still didn’t apply for a single company. One of my friends urged me to apply just for the sake of an experience, so with my uninterested mind, I filled the form for one company at 12th hour. I was very happy to learn that I wasn’t shortlisted. It was November 2016, one of my friend who was a member of Green Club of our college told me that one of our alumni is engaged in Solid Waste Management Company based in Bengaluru. I talked to that alumnus, and applied for it. I had an interview with him and was selected for the internship. I was very happy and excited to be on board and started studying more about solid waste management. I wasn’t promised any stipend still I was happy, because I got an internship in the field of my interest but sometimes, I had a feeling of envy that my friends will be getting a stipend and other luxuries. In December 2016, after confirming the internship at Saahas Zero Waste, I didn’t apply for an internship in any company. After few months, everyone was excited and were leaving for their internships.

After the first week of the internship at Saahas Zero Waste, I talked with few of my friends and found how stressed they were with the workload and working atmosphere of their company. I realized I was very happy with the work I was getting and more the workload I was getting, more I was enjoying it and atmosphere here was also family like, flexible working hours, having lunch together. It was just another family working together with same motive to make a change.

Though my friends were getting a stipend, luxuries of the company, still they were unhappy, few of them saying “yaar barbaad ho gaye” or “lagi padi hai yar yaha”. I smelled the feeling of regret they were having when they told me about their work experience and that joy and proud when I was telling mine.

I have learned a lot about the Zero Waste Program, Decentralized waste management system, circular economy and most importantly how the things work at ground level. Exposure I got from here is commendable. I am confident that Saahas Zero Waste will reach to the great height and will emerge as a role model and inspiration of such similar initiatives. I am highly satisfied with my decision of sticking with my field of interest and look my future prospects in the same.

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Shaurya Vats
Summer Intern
Saahas Zero Waste