Internship @ Akosha, Delhi: Consumer Complaints Work, Very Good Environment

Name. College. Year of Study
Vasudha Misra. Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow. Third Year.

Name of the organization. City
Akosha. New Delhi.

Duration of the internship
6th May to 1st June. Four Weeks.

How big was the office? Team strength?
The office is decently sized, with some funky artwork/posters. Since the offices have been only recently shifted to E 40/7, Okhla Phase II, everything is relatively new.

There is a small recreation area upstairs with a ping pong table, where most of the workers hang out during lunch hours. The team strength is difficult to estimate, but I’d say 60, give or take a few.

It is a really efficient categorization of work they have in the office and there are divisions for sales (responsible for marketing the website to the customer), brands (marketing the website to the companies), operations (for communicating with the customer to figure out what he wants), technology (managing the website and ensuring that it is bug free) and legal (drafting of letters and consumer complaints).

So, there’s actually work for everyone, whether you’re studying computer science or cyber law.

Application procedure. Internship contact details
The application procedure is very simple. You send in an email with your CV to [email protected], who is the head of Human Resources.

He will tell you the time within which you can expect to receive a call back and the reply is hardly ever tardy. The prospective intern is asked to fill in an internship application form as part of the internship procedure.

Some of the people that had applied along with me were also asked to draft sample letters, so you may anticipate that as well.

Duration in weeks. No. of days/week. Timings
Four weeks, six days a week. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. However, they do realize how Delhi is and allow the girls to leave at around 6:30 p.m., while it’s not dark. An hour long lunch break is given in the afternoon.

Accommodation: how, where, how was it?
I stayed at a nondescript PG near Okhla Phase II, a fifteen minute walk from the Govindpuri Metro station, the name of which I do not remember. It was the worst place I’ve ever stayed in. It was recommended by a friend, who probably secretly hated me.

Since the metro station is very close to the office, I would suggest that you stay in a PG near Lajpat Nagar or Greater Kailash. Avoid Govindpuri or Okhla. It gets morbidly creepy at night.

First impression. First day, formalities etc.
Even on the first day, there were absolutely no formalities except a casual, cursory introduction. The intern and new team members were asked to read up about Akosha on their Wiki page and get a fair idea of the objectives, tasks, etc. The way the team interacted with each other was pretty comforting.

Incidentally, in the evening, there was a monthly performance assessment session of sorts, presided over by Ankur Singla (the CEO). The performance of each division was thoroughly evaluated and suggestions for improvement were noted and discussed.

The interns and new employees were asked to introduce themselves to the rest of the group. A few days later, the interns were made to view a presentation about Akosha, the sort of work it does and its principles, etc. I do wish they had skipped that. Could not care less about it.

Main tasks (in detail)
The company policy for interns is easy-going and they are never straitjacketed in a particular division. If the intern does not like the division for which they have applied, they may request to be transferred to another.

In the legal department, the intern is expected to learn about the working and hierarchy of consumer fora. You also understand the jurisdiction area of various consumer courts. Anyone who works with the legal team is expected to be fully conversant with the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and the basic principles of the Indian Contract Act, 1872.

Since the main task is drafting of letters to brands and consumer complaints for the Consumer Disputes Redressal Fora on behalf of customers who have a problem with the product of a particular provider of services or goods, the seniors are very particular as to the quality of work.

Seriously, I’ve had letters with mistakes as tiny as a miniscule indentation sent back to me. As it turn out, this ends up being quite important. The interns are also asked to draft relatively simple legal documents such as the powers of attorney.

Once or twice a week, research work is also assigned to the interns, which is then circulated within the legal team for reference. The lucky ones may also receive certain topics for writing of articles, which may then be featured on their blog, Consumer Tadka.

You may also be asked for your opinion on certain legal issues involved in the drafting of legal documents and agreements for the use of companies.

Sometimes, if a problem arises, the legal interns are also required to step in and speak personally to the customer they draft the documents for (which is generally the task of the sales and operations division). Some of them are extremely co-operative and have genuine concerns, while others, not so much.

akosha internship

Work environment, people
Mornings are generally relaxed as the complaints start pouring in after noon. The pace picks up by then and reaches a crescendo by evening.

The lunch hour is usually the time to socialize, though the friendly banter continues throughout the day. The environment is very healthy, partially because the CEO himself is pretty chilled out and partially because most of the members in the team are very young, upbeat and spirited.

The seniors are very helpful people and if you are willing to learn, you should have no problem. But if you’re found slacking (Lord forbid), you’ve had it.

Best things? (Nothing is all bad)
The female team members are constantly encouraged to report even the slightest misbehaviour from anyone in the office and not to take any passes lying down. There was a special session held to inform the female team members of the strict policy against sexual harassment. This is one of the reasons that the work environment is so conducive to women.

Working beyond office hours is not the norm but team members who stay late are often treated to dinner or pizza.

Once or twice a month, team members go out for lunch or just hang out together. It promotes team bonding and interaction and is very much appreciated by overworked employees.

During my internship, we went to Hauz Khas Village for the entire day. Besides, there are various clubs that you may be a part of, such as the social service club, legal start up club, the sports club. They convene every Saturday after 5 o’clock and, though irregular, are always fun. The Social Service Club organized a blood donation camp during my last week, which was a great initiative and a successful one at that.

You don’t need to run around for your certificate. A reminder one day before you leave is sufficient.

Bad things? (Nothing is all good)
Sometimes, like the end of the month, where the team is running around like headless chickens to meet deadlines, the work becomes impossible and extremely hectic.

The incessant urge to put a nagging customer’s head through a wall. Sometimes they make you draft, re-draft and re-draft one simple letter again and again until they’ve sucked out their money’s worth of blood from your numb body. Yes, they’ve paid for it and yes, this is what Akosha does, but people in trouble can be extremely unreasonable at times. Making sense of their incoherent letters can be very frustrating, too. Still, this does prepare you for dealing with such people in the future.

Too many meetings for performance assessment.

After a point, the work becomes monotonous and it’s basically copying, pasting and formatting if you have a fair idea of what you’re doing.

What did you do to chill? Co-interns, colleagues
The unimpressive location of the office is somewhat of a bummer but if there’s one thing to be said for Delhi, it is the amazing food. Almost every street has its favourite eatery and there are no dearth of options.

Most people from the office would frequent the areas of Khan Market, GK I or Kalkaji, all of which had some great cafes and street food. Sometimes, the interns would get together and order pizza in the evening. The cafeteria was halfway decent.

Most of the interns were from law schools but the technical team had a few from IIT Kharagpur and students from Delhi University also interned with the operations and sales teams.

Stipend/ month
Akosha does not have a policy of paying their interns as far as I know but I believe the stipend is competitive and is only given to interns in proportion to the hard work they put in.

Anything else you’d like to tell
Come to this place only if you find it in yourself to work hard and not whine about it. Hard work is acknowledged and there really is a lot to learn.

By the end of the month, you will have learnt how to frame letters to insecure and exploitative business giants who do not care much for their customers, draft consumer complaints, somewhat handle irrational people and know the Consumer Protection Act like the back of your hand. I think a month is a small price to pay for the experience. Don’t you?

Biggest lessons
Akosha is above, everything, a business and it feeds on consumer dissatisfaction. But everyone in this place recognizes that at the end of the day it’s just a job. It’s great if you love your work and even better if you’d choose it above a night of dinner with your friends. But please, make sure that that’s what you want. Because, once the office hours are over, it could be the only thing you go home to.

Having a life outside work is encouraged and as long as you’re putting in effort into the tasks assigned, the seniors are remarkably considerate of your needs.

I would rate the experience 9/10.

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Comments Till Now

  1. Well. Not really. says:

    I’ve interned there. In the legal team, you’re supposed to be drafting the same kind of letters and that is pretty redundant after a while, especially because there’s hardly any legal addition from your end due to having to shove everything into a pre-drafted format which does not challenge your legal skills to a significant extent.

    Yes, letters are sent back to you if there are formatting errors but wait, do I want to spend an entire month learning the basics of formatting? Also, the formatting errors which you end up making are largely a result of trying to stuff things in the format that Akosha uses and as such, the skills are (a) not difficult to learn (b) not really useful as far as drafting is concerned.

    This is not to say that you don’t get to learn at Akosha. Sure, you learn the basic problems that people face as consumers , you learn how a start-up like Akosha functions, (if you’re given a chance to work in other departments) you might get to learn how a start-up hires people, how SEO works etc. But if you’re going there to improve your skills as a lawyer, you’re in the wrong place (the internships page on the website is pretty clear on that as far as I can remember).

    Also, other than drafting the same kind of letters again and again, there’s really not much work there. Which makes this internship a right fit for 1st Year students (or anyone who still hasn’t decided what he/she wants to do for that matter).

    For me, it was a depressing place with no work to challenge me. Ankur is a smart guy though. If you get a chance to speak to him about start-up organizations, it’ll do you good.

  2. Abhisek Mohanty says:

    Well written, Vasudha. Pretty comprehensive except any mention about the bad lunch served. 😀

  3. devika agarwal says:

    Very well written Vasudha 🙂

  4. I had the opportunity to intern at Akosha during the time they were in the process of shifting to Okhla. The good thing about Akosha is that people are warm and approachable, there is no need to be formal and you could virtually interact with anybody and everybody, the CEO included. But the problem is that the work gets too repetitive and especially if they are chasing a backlog then almost impossible targets become unbearable.

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