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Towards Skilldom – How We Did It…

By Raghavendra N.V

24 March 2020, Our Hon’ble Prime Minister comes on TV and announces a 21-day lockdown. Everybody is shocked, wondering what it will result in. But then again, people still have the internet, a great tool that keeps us connected, updated and also provides us with the knowledge that we desire.An idea pops up in Sachin’s head, “Let’s give the students something to work on, keep them active, and help them learn something new”.

This lockdown is like those scorching summers that dehydrate people. This lockdown might just sap the life out of people. All we could hear was Corona here and Corona there. Sachin first brought the idea to me and I felt it was great. I wasn’t planning to do anything so I agreed. He knew enough people who could contribute to the idea. Sachin Korla is an undergraduate, studying computer science engineering at Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology. He won the Dell Campassador Season 4 this year(2019). Sachin was busy with making the website for InternWell but still, he managed to get some people together. 10 people agreed and made a team.

No one had the least idea of what to expect at the time. We were 2 writers, 4 managers, 1 programmer, 1 freelancer and 2 people to help. The goal was simple. We knew skilled mentors who were ready to impart their knowledge towards those who were hungry for it. The next day more news comes in, people are now unemployed, the economy is plummeting, and the nation is running out of money. The lockdown meant shutting down all sorts of retailers except those that were needed. It was more of an emergency. Nothing sounded positive. The Govt. of India even shut the Indian Railways that hadn’t been shut even during the wars. COVID-19 called for a nationwide emergency. There hasn’t been this sort of crisis since the 1900s. The cases were skyrocketing. Trade was shut causing the stock market to drop day by day. No one knew how the world would tackle this situation.

Amidst this chaos we still set a target for the course. Find 250 students who would not waste this time and make a new skill set while in lockdown. We started off by creating a few posters and social media handles. We posted in each group and contacted each college that we could. We faced the problem that students had to attend online classes by their online institutes. Many certified courses were made free. We faced a lot of competition. Our team was focussing on registrations more than the course. We didn’t have a sound plan but we just kept building the whole thing each day. We decided that the knowledge would be free but InternWell’s motto is to never leave anyone behind. It is our duty, as citizens to help those in need.

We started off by talking to our mentors, our lecturers, taking advice from experienced people and of course, having fun. Our mentors were really supportive by the way. Dr. Manpreet Singh Manna and Dr. A.S. Arora helped us build the course and promote it. Mr. Yash Tiwari, a four-times TEDx speaker and an award-winning published author, helped us by using spreading the word among his followers. He also helped us by raising some funds from another organization. Dravisha Katoch, a young entrepreneur and mental health activist, helped us promote better using LinkedIn. She used her channel to promote the course. All this while, Prateek Narang, Cofounder of Coding blocks observed our efforts and accepted to help us by both mentoring and bringing a lot of participants to the course.

We had only two goals. First, give the students knowledge and a start, something that they can build upon. Second, help those who need it desperately. We decided that we would include all sorts of topics in this course and also charge a small fee of Rs 101/- from each participant that would be completely donated to the PM CARES campaign. We weren’t doing this for promotion or fame. Each and every one of us was a student, a teenager who just wanted to help the nation. The mentors were ready and so were we. The best thing was that we all got along easily. No one doubted each other. We all had a common goal and the rest was luck.  We never doubted the idea, not for a second and just went with the flow. All we knew was that we needed 250 participants, as many mentors as possible and the names of the topics we would be covering. Each day we faced a new set of challenges.

The first and foremost was the setting up of the platform for the course. We needed a premium zoom account and we only had one night to set everything. Two of our mentors, Akriti Sood and Praveen Sir helped us buy an account and set it up overnight. We had decided the sessions and had to SMS each and every participant to join the Whatsapp group. We had a strength of over 100 participants at the very start. We learned that zoom had its limitations too. The first two days were hectic but we got used to it. I was attending each and every session because they were interactive. Our mentors were so patient that they let students ask all sorts of questions, even personal ones. We couldn’t make up a complete schedule but managed to post the next day’s schedule on the previous day. We saw that after the first two days the number of participants grew suddenly.

The pandemic was completely new to everyone, so new that it even surpassed the bounds of imagination. Our course was the same, so new and weird that most people thought that it was fake. Once it started, everyone realized that something special was happening. We were going to provide the recordings of the sessions too. This brought more people who wouldn’t be able to attend all the sessions of the course. Even though there were more problems like internet connectivity issues, technical issues, etc. we still managed to pull this off. We still work day and night to make this course successful each and every day. Each member feels like a family now. We even make memes on ourselves these days. 

Uncertainty has surrounded the nation, not knowing what else is gonna happen. The course is successfully running with over 240 participants and we are still trying our best to bring more participation. Different mentors having expertise in varied subjects are interacting by taking time off of their schedules just so the students can learn. That is the beauty of it. The topics comprise of technical ones like Programming with JavaScript, Machine Learning, Python, AWS, Market-related topics like Digital marketing, Social marketing, miscellaneous topics like Content Development, Career Development, etc. We also had a great session with Mr. Aditya Gupta, the founder of The Rug Republic, who brought us lessons from his expedition to Mt. Everest. There was also an engaging session with Dravisha Katoch.  The Nagori sisters, Hyderabad’s youngest ecopreneurs, talked about how we can create a sustainable society. The mentors are also having fun while interacting. An idea just needs a belief and a strong will and the rest will automatically happen. That is the beauty of the universe. When you work for a cause, you will not fall.

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“United we stand, Divided we fall”

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