My name is Richa and I recently joined the SocialCops team in a “Resident Entrepreneur” role. Seriously. I was told to create my own title when I joined, and so I did. Having worked as an associate at a consulting firm for two years conducting primary research and randomised controlled trials, I was drawn to the power that SocialCops was quietly building up – the ability to help people make decisions at the click of a button through real data from multiple sources.
Given the fact that I lived 5 minutes away from the old SocialCops basement office in Malviya Nagar, I had dropped in on Friday Demos and Town Halls for over a month and a half before my official joining date. This gave me a chance to get to know the team incredibly well.
A day before I joined SocialCops officially, I was told that I might need to orient an intern on my first day. This was because our entire business development team was in Vijayawada to manage one of our biggest deployments. We were training around 1000 volunteers to use our Collect app to carry out a mini census in over 264 villages.
Day 1: Monday
10:00 am: Started my first day of work.
10:30 am: Did a call with one of our co-founders, Prukalpa, where we discussed the intern’s joining and his hack week challenge.
11:00 am: Took the intern to our brainstorming room where I gave him an introduction about the work we did. After that, we discussed his first week challenge. At the end of the 30-minute orientation, I casually mentioned to the intern that it was my first day as well!
It was amazing how the feeling of being trusted can make you so comfortable with a new working environment. My first day at SocialCops began by not being oriented, but by orienting another person about what we do and intend to do at SocialCops.
12:00 pm: Received a call telling me that I had to leave for Vijaywada on a Tuesday 6 a.m. flight.
12:30 pm: Set up my email and got access to Salesforce, Intercom, Google Drive and a bunch of other tools we use at SocialCops.
1:00 – 3:00 pm: Started working on survey templates and feedback to send to two of our nonprofit partners.
Day 2: Tuesday
4:00 am: Woke up and left for the airport.
8:30 am: Landed at the Vijaywada Airport and took a cab to our training venue.
The moment I landed, I knew that it would be one hell of an experience because it was my first time in Andhra Pradesh and I could not understand the local language, Telugu.
9:45 am: Reached the training venue and dove straight into helping mode. I had a hard time understanding people and making them understand what I was saying. However, with a mixed bag of Hindi, English, face and hand gestures, I managed my part.
1:00 pm: First Training of the day… check!
1:00 – 3:00 pm: Quickly headed back to the hotel, met my colleagues and grabbed a quick lunch before heading back to the next training venue (which was about an hour away).
Days 3 and 4: Wednesday and Thursday
While I had spent Day 2 learning from my colleagues, Day 3 and 4 were now about me executing! After just one day of learning, I was managing a training session in a village, G Konduru, with the help of a technical helper.
This is pretty much how my Days 3 and 4 passed:
9:00 am: Left the hotel for nearby villages.
10:00 am – 2:00 pm: First training.
3:00 – 6:00 pm : Second training.
10:00 pm: Arrived back at the hotel.
Before I landed in Vijayawada, I knew everything I needed to know about the project and what I would be doing in Vijayawada. However, I didn’t know that my experience would make me re-think my entire development psyche.
We typically started our trainings by teaching people who had never used a smartphone before how to use a tablet. We taught them everything from how to use a power button to how to swipe. It took us almost an hour and a half to teach a complete novice how to use a tablet. After this, we spent about an hour training people to use our Collect application — training that was only necessary because this was the first app that they were had ever used! Hours later, the same people people who had never used smartphones before were using tablets to map households, click pictures and manage 30-minute surveys.
It was all very heart-warming.
At all the trainings, we would ask our volunteers about their preference – paper survey or mobile survey? 100% of the time, all of the volunteers preferred mobile surveys to paper surveys. That would make our day!
Day 5: Friday
On the last two days – Friday and Saturday — we decided to cover our work in Andhra Pradesh through a short documentary. It gave me a great opportunity to interact with all our partners on the ground – Tata Trusts, Centre for People’s Forestry — as well as the volunteers.
I spent a whole day visiting remote villages to see how our volunteers were surveying in the field. In one of my interactions with a volunteer, he effortlessly picked up the tablet, loaded the google satellite image of the village and marked the household that was in front of us. I was amazed by how someone who had found it difficult to swipe a few days ago was now able to complete such complex actions.
Even though I hail from Rajasthan, I didn’t know how torturous the scorching May heat could be until I visited Vijayawada. We would sweat continuously the entire day. However, the enthusiasm of pulling off a survey that would have otherwise taken 6 months kept us going, along with the amazing spicy food from villages in Andhra Pradesh.
Day 6: Saturday
As though my week had not been exciting enough, Saturday presented me with a very unique opportunity. The Member of Parliament of the Vijayawada constituency was making a visit to the local villages to meet the people. As a representative of one of the prime partners in this exercise, I was invited to accompany the MP on his visits.
As I made my way to the SocialCops office on Monday morning, I would have never imagined that, by Saturday, I would be travelling with an MP or giving interviews in the local media as a representative of SocialCops.
Summing Up My First Week as an Entrepreneur
During my first week at SocialCops… I oriented an intern on my first day of the job. I trained people in the villages of Andhra Pradesh with no knowledge of Telugu. (In fact, I couldn’t even read sign boards most of the time.) I had the most amazing Andhra food. I saw mobile-based data collection deployment at an incredible scale. And finally, I met an MP who compared me to Obama because I took a selfie.
It’s all in a week’s work at SocialCops.
Want to read more of our team narratives? Try one of the following:
- “Expecting the Unexpected: My First Week in Business Development at SocialCops” by Aishwarya
- “Why I chose to intern at a startup in my first semester winter & why you should too” by Divyansh
- “Shipping an Internal Real Time Dashboard: My Internship at SocialCops” by Vipul
- “My Internship Experience – Why SocialCops makes you want to drop out of college” by Dhruv
- “My Summer Internship – What Google Won’t Tell You About SocialCops” by Praateek