What's the opposite of doing something for money?
In the final semester of my Bachelor’s in Computer Science, I was very certain I didn’t want to do a tech internship since I wanted to go into marketing.
Tech internships were the only ones offered in campus placements, and things weren’t looking too bright for me – the alternative was to spend a lonely 6 months on campus doing research while all my friends interned in different companies.
That’s when I got an email that led me to the first internship of my dreams. ✨
But before that —
A few semesters prior…
I was approached by a team of four students to make a promo video for their startup. They couldn’t pay me money, but they offered exposure.
However, they were travelling to California for a hackathon (AngelHack), so I worked out a deal with them — they would bring me a GoPro from there (it was cheaper in the US than in India) and I would make a video for them. It worked out well!
What happened next —
A few months later, they approached me again for another video. This time they still didn’t have any money to pay me, and they agreed that exposure wasn’t on the table either. They asked me for a favour.
I still agreed to make the video, because I liked these guys and they seemed like cool, smart individuals – who knows where our relationship might go? It didn’t take me more than a few hours to make the video anyway.
As it turns out…
One of these four started working at this successful, profit-making, innovative blockchain startup in Bangalore, SpringRole. He showed the CEO the videos I’d made, and the CEO was interested in speaking to me.
The email I mentioned before —
That’s when I got the email. The CEO wanted to talk to me about potentially doing a final semester marketing internship at his company, as one of the first members of the marketing team.
The rest is history. The internship turned out to be way cooler than expected, and I learnt way more than I imagined I would. I even met the ex-guitarist of Toro y Moi at the wedding of the CEO.
They even gave me as many monitors as I wanted!
What I learnt —
The opposite of doing something for money isn’t always doing something for free. It’s all about finding the opportunity and/or the learning in whatever you’re being offered or asked.
The important thing is also being cognizant of what you’re getting in return when you agree to do something, even in work that pays. Sometimes it’s only money. But oftentimes there are other things on the table too – goodwill, learning, happiness.
The first video I made for these guys, I got a good deal on a GoPro. In the second video I made for them, I was building goodwill, and I was aware of it. I did it expecting nothing in return.
It can get tricky to do things for goodwill because it involves understanding who is worth building goodwill with. Not everyone is!
Don’t get me wrong though, I always believe you should charge a fair wage for your work. But there are certain situations, especially when you’re very young or otherwise not financially bound, when you can make exceptions. These are exceptions, not the norm. I did plenty of paid video work in college too.
Thanks for reading so far. Let me know what you think — hit ‘reply’ on this email to send me a message with your thoughts!