Inside the Lightbox Fellowship

Team Lightbox
20th February 2024

Last June, Lightbox rolled up its existing internship programme into a year-long Fellowship that immerses undergraduate students in India's startup and venture capital ecosystem. So far, it's going very well.

A cold call to Hewlett-Packard earned a 12-year old Steve Jobs an internship with the iconic technology company and set him on the path to changing the world. In a 1995 interview, the visionary co-founder of Apple recalled, “He (Bill Hewlett)... gave me a job working at Hewlett-Packard that summer. And that really had a remarkable influence on me… it formed my view of what a company was…”

Not just for Jobs, internships have played an important role in shaping the careers of several successful personalities across industries and companies. For companies, internships offer an effective mechanism to find and groom fresh talent, bring an understanding of the thought processes of future workforces, and build brand equity.

Internships are hardwired into the Lightbox DNA. We have a rich tradition of welcoming more than 70 interns through our doors over the last ten years. Some of them, to our delight, have stayed on at Lightbox. Others have gone on to successful careers in investment banking, management consulting, technology, venture capital, and entrepreneurship.

When we started the internship programme several years ago, it was contemplated as a three-month programme, primarily targeting MBA and pre-MBA students. Sometime last year, we decided that the programme was due for an upgrade. As a consumer sector focused venture capital firm, we were seeing changes in the startup and venture capital ecosystem that called for a wider lens in terms of engaging with the student community. 

In June last year, we rolled out the Lightbox Fellowship, an intensive year-long programme that would enable undergraduate students to immerse themselves in the ecosystem and take home real-world experiences as they prepare for their futures. 

“While the existing internship programme has been very successful, we felt that three months was too short a timeframe for either the interns or us to get the maximum benefit of the learnings. With the fellowship, we are able to structure the learning process better and involve the interns in higher strategy work” says Monish Pathare, who leads data analytics at Lightbox and steers the internship programme. 

Under the Fellowship, the interns work on live projects guided by mentors from the Lightbox investment team. The first two fellows to join the programme, Arjun Simha and Harsh Shah, both undergraduate students from IIT Bombay, are currently being mentored by Lightbox’s Atharva Purandare and Akshat Jain.

“The interns are asked to specify their areas of interest and mentors are matched based on those inputs. Their work is tailored in line with their goals,” says Pathare.

Typically, the interns are required to sign up for 10-hours of work a week. Weekends are free. “While we do ask for 10 hours a week, it’s flexible. We take into account that the interns have to manage the work along with the ongoing pressure of academics,” adds Pathare.

How’s the experience turned out so far for Simha and Shah? Watch the video to find out.

Meanwhile, the applications are flowing and we’re readying for the second batch. We also have several more plans and modules in the pipeline for the student community. We’ll keep you posted.