This post is intended to help all those who have been shortlisted for the SBI YFI personal interview. All past fellows get so many calls each year, that it just totally felt necessary to sum up all of these.
1. How is the interview? (I don’t know what all do the aspirants mean when they ask this, but adding in all of that I have told till now)
It is a personal interview, with the candidate facing a panel of 4-5 members consisting of SBI YFI team member(s), NGO staff(s), member(s) of the advisory board. They mostly want to know what you have done till now and what you aspire to, in future. Be as honest as you can, because unlike other jobs, the monetary compensation is not too high to stake your life for, whereas as the entire program demands consistent commitment. No points for faking. No gain in being in the program, if this one year is a free vacation or a resume pointer. Try to read as many blogs of past fellows as possible, check out their Facebook walls, crowdfunding processes etc. Try to understand the partner NGOs, specially if you are keen about a particular field of work or geography. Understand each of us is different, and experiences vary. Being true will also help you the experts (panel members) select you or not, and place you with the most suitable partner NGO during the fellowship
2. Does my past education or work experience count?
Yes, if it is relevant, and if your commitment in the past was amazing and if you still have the same fire within. Otherwise also, no problem. Again, the commitment to stay put, adaptability with the partner NGO, with the local people, health/home sickness all are important. You need to be serious about the program, and motivated enough to try to put in your best. Fellows range from freshmen to people with more than 5 years of work ex, across diverse backgrounds and from different places.
3. How do I select my project?
Be at the project site with an open mind, because you may find new ideas and opportunities. Also, interact with everyone well. You may either find something totally new, or be able to use past work or directly support a NGO;s project, or a mix of all these. You also have ample time to figure it out once you are there.
4. How rural can it get?
As much rural as you can think of. No, I was joking. It depends on your past experience with rural areas and your current expectations.
But, be prepared to learn at least the basic words in the local language, learn to be comfortable with a bit of heat, cold or rain, be cool with not having the urban level of hygiene in bathrooms or toilets and be prepared to live without luxuries.
Apart from that, clear pools, fresh veggies/milk/meat, getting to see our packed foods in the raw-est form, is definitely worth it.
5. How do I prepare?
Chuck your insecurities, ego, sense of superiority, lack of confidence, fear; anything and everything that prevents you from interacting openly with the SBI YFI team, your co-fellows, NGO staff or the community members. Go with an open mind, take all opportunities as they come your way and give your best in everything.
6. How does this compare with a regular job?
DIFFERENT – in terms of pay, holidays, workdays, everyday colleagues, personal learning, experiences, self-reliance etc.
SAME – in terms of insecurities, chaos, friends etc
7. What are the prospects of past fellows, post-fellowship?
Almost none of them are now scared to pursue their passions. In terms of pay, job security, work load etc, it is highly subjective, depending on personal needs and situations. No need to compare. You are worth what you work for.
8. Will you repeat the fellowship, given a chance?
Yes I will, and almost all of the fellows whom I know would do so; and this time better.