Tata social internship frequently asked questions

About the programme

Can anybody at LSE apply for Tata social internships?

The Tata social internship scheme is open to LSE students from any degree discipline. The scheme is open to undergraduate students in their pre and final year, one year masters students and also PhDs. Students on the scheme have been on programmes including Social Policy, MPA, Mathematics, Social Anthropology, International Relations, Economics and Environment and Development. To see what previous LSE interns have studied visit the profiles section.

What topics do the Tata social internship projects cover?

The internships offered are in the ongoing corporate sustainability projects of Tata companies. Projects have either a development, social enterprise, environmental, sustainable or CSR focus and involve a significant research element. Previous LSE students have undertaken projects as varied as women’s’ empowerment, climate change, education, water and waste management and CSR to name a few. Previous intern profiles give further information about the type of projects you might do.

The Tata social internship scheme is at the same time as I’m working on my dissertation. Is it possible to do both?

Every year a number of masters students manage to combine working on a Tata social internship with completing their dissertations. Several have combined internship and dissertation using their experiences in India as a case study. To be successful, you will need to be very organised and to have completed the bulk of your research work before heading to India at the start of July.

What is the length of the Tata social internship programme?

Approximately two months. The LSE programme typically starts at the end of June or beginning of July and finishes at the end of August.

Can an intern complete only a part of a Tata social internship?

No, you need to be there for the full 2 months.

Can I start the Tata social internship scheme before or after the start date?

Unfortunately this is a scheme with an induction, project review and closing session scheduled so there is no flexibility on the start or finishing date.

Will I be able to specify what project I would like to do?

While we will always try to put students forward for the project areas they are most interested in, the final matching of intern to project is carried out by Tata.  Project briefs can change and there may be strong demand for particular projects so in these circumstances it may not always be possible to allocate you to your 1st or 2nd choice of project.

What are the costs associated with doing a Tata social internship?

Tata will pay 1/3 of your return airfare to India, all internal flight and transport costs plus all meals and accommodation. You also get a small daily allowance for incidentals. Costs covered by students include the remainder of the airfare, UK travel costs and visa and inoculation costs. 

Eligibility and the application process

For the 700 word statement, should it be in format of a cover letter or a personal statement?

The 700 words is the maximum length your application should be. It can be either a letter or a personal statement. You just need to make sure that it covers all the relevant areas. Further details about the skills we look for is available on the eligibility section of the website.

Do I need an academic reference?

You will only be asked for an academic reference if you are selected for the scheme.

Who should write my academic reference?

Your academic reference can be written by your academic adviser, class teacher, course director or any other member of academic staff (eg dissertation supervisor) able to comment on your suitability for the programme. These can be sent directly to the programme manager – m.l.smith@lse.ac.uk.

I don’t yet have any LSE results/transcripts. Can I still apply?

Yes, your academic reference letter will be sufficient along with a transcript of your results from your previous university.

I’ve lived in India/spent significant time there previously. Can I still apply?

One of the aims of the Tata social internship scheme is to facilitate cultural exchange and learning. Priority will therefore be given to applicants who have not spent significant periods of time in India and who will therefore benefit most from the cultural exchange aspect of the programme.

I’m not sure whether I will get a 2.1 or above. Is it worth me applying?

Absolutely! We do not select candidates on the basis of their academic results alone but look at your skills and commitment/suitability for the programme.

Is the Tata social internship programme open to General Course students?

To be eligible for the Tata social internship programme you need to be registered as an LSE student for the duration of the internship (typically start of July to the end of August).

Do I need to speak Hindi?

No you don’t but we would always recommend interns learning a few words before they go. You will also get some basic Hindi training in the pre-internship orientation.

Getting ready for your internship

What type of visa will I need to apply for?

Visa regulations change so you are advised to check online for the latest information. For the UK this is available from the VFS Global website. Most of you should be able to apply for an Entry Visa and can do this from London irrespective of whether you are from France, Germany or elsewhere. 

What’s the process for applying for a visa?

Again most of this information is on the VFS Global website. In addition to an official letter from Tata, you need a confirmation letter from the LSE which includes your passport number, the dates you intend being in India and your post-internship plans. You need this documentation before applying for your visa. The actual process of applying for a visa is generally straightforward and should only take a week or so if applying from the UK. If applying outside the UK you will need to check the guidelines for your own country.

Who will book and pay for my international air ticket to India?

Selected Tata social internship interns will be expected to book their own flights to and from India. Tata will reimburse 1/3 of the cost of a standard return air-fare to Mumbai. The LSE will arrange to have the money reimbursed to the intern.

Who will make the domestic travel arrangements for Tata social internship project related travel?

Tata organise and book all the air, rail, car travel arrangements within India and between towns for internship related travel.

Can I take a holiday break during the Tata social internship?

The working week in India is typically six days. During a Tata social internship, two weekends off are allowed (with the permission of the Project Guide and Tata social internship coordinator). Interns often travel with other interns during these weekends. Tata companies are not obliged to make arrangements for your mid-internship breaks but will be happy to advise you on interesting places to visit.

Can I travel in India after my internship or do I need to return straight away?

Many interns decide to stay on and travel in India when their internships have finished. Even if you do stay to travel, 1/3 of your return flight cost will still be covered by Tata. However, there is no other financial or other support available to you once the internship has finished.

Will I have access to a computer and the internet in India?

Whether you have access to a desk and PC really depends on the work you are doing and the location you are placed. With this in mind, interns are advised to take their own laptops and necessary convertors. The quality of internet varies from fair to poor, again depending on location. Interns are often dependent on a common access line at the hostel or at the Tata factory.

Where will I stay while in India?

Interns typically stay in Tata hostels and guest houses. These are run for Tata employees working on site and are very comfortable with full facilities including en suite bathrooms and TVs. 

What vaccinations do I need for India?

This varies according to individual circumstances so you are advised to check with the FCO, consulate or embassy in your country. If you have any doubts, do consult your GP or ask previous interns via Facebook. There is some useful information about health while overseas on the NHS website.

What will the food be like?

The food at the guest houses and hostels is typically Indian.

Will I have access to doctors, clinics and hospitals while in India on my internship?

Yes you will have access through the Tata company linked medical facilities. The Tata company you are interning with will provide you with the details.

Can I speak to anyone about the programme before I go to India?

As well as the programme manager at the LSE and the Tata coordinator in India, it’s always advisable to speak to former students about their time in India. For this reason there is a Tata social internship Facebook community. This gives you access to the Tata social internship alumni so that you can ask them about their experience and for advice. 

What is the recommended dress code?

You will be in India during the summer and monsoon time. The weather will be hot and humid with heavy downpours so do carry some rainwear. Dress code varies from location to location – jeans and t-shirts in the field, smart casuals in the office. Since you could be working in rural India which is conservative in its clothes sense, skimpy clothing is to be avoided.

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