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Summer 2017

Summer Diaries: Indian Institute for Human Settlements

July 21, 2017
- Venkatesh Babu Arunachalam

The Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) is a National interdisciplinary institute which specializes in urban studies, practice and academia relating to Indian Settlements.

Your ticket into IIHS: IIHS has a completely tailored process, based on each individual’s work, interest and aptitude. (There are no benchmark Grade Points as such). They prefer students having prior associations (as part of academia / projects / prior internships/ workshops attended, etc), with the related field of work. The organization is quite multifaceted, as the teams consist of folks from multiple backgrounds, disciplines, states and countries. Both graduate and postgraduate interns form an integral part of the institute.

The process:

Step 01: Fill up their online internship application form (found on the website itself - You would be asked to fill in your interests, qualifications, CV, portfolio of work (if any).

Step 02: Wait for a few days for them to get back. (They take interns only if there is a requirement as part of a specific research or project.)

Step 03: Remind them over mail or call, if ‘Step 02’ fails to happen. (Please be polite and pitch in your email id, contact number and your application date to help the HR team keep a note)

Step 04: If you are considered for the internship, you would be connected through a skype or telephonic interview.

Min. Preferred Internship period: 4 – 6 weeks. Average internship duration: 2 – 6 months (Yes, they do give extensions to internships). There also exists a high chance for your internship churning to a full-time job since they are expanding the institute rapidly (A gigantic New campus is in the pipeline, scheduled to commence very soon).

Ideal time to apply: They hire interns all-round the year, so suit yourself!

About the Institute: The scope of their work reaches out to macro level concepts like poverty, population, housing, climate change, economic development, sustainability, governance, urban systems et all. The institute collaborates with various government, public and international bodies, colleges and institutes to carry out projects and research work, which is usually of sky high standards. A continuous learning and development systems- among others, an Urban Fellowship Programme (UFP), a Doctoral research program and several other workshops, training and capacity building programmes take place quite frequently.

Other online courses, talks, seminars, book fairs, exhibitions, film screenings take place on a regular note too. A well maintained and stacked public library adds additional charm to the workplace.

The institute also is known for its state of the art labs - Word lab, Media Lab, Design Lab, Geospatial Lab, Urban Informatics Lab.

I was part of the design lab, which is into spatial design, setting guidelines, master planning and suitable practices in the built environment. My work included reviewing and setting up standards for labor accommodation pan India, campus planning and some furniture, graphic design.

The people: A diverse range of vibrant and fun individuals, which includes engineers, architects, planners, researchers, economists, media junkies, artists, etc.

Work Ethics: Quite an enriching place to be in. The work load is nominal with flexible and customized schedules. Team leads and colleagues are very supportive and take time to help you with your work hands on.


Location: Located in the quiet and elite suburb of Sadashivanagar, you get to experience the old charm of the city – with lakes, silent lanes, street food, concert halls, vibrant markets, various malls; all within a short distance. The transport networks are also quite approachable – with the metro, bus other public modes. The institute has 5 branches currently – Bengaluru, New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Trichy.

Office infra: A adequately large setup with latest tech, flexible work zones, well stocked library, state of the art research labs, multiple meeting and conference rooms, recreation facilities, a terrace garden and some great coffee!


Summing up: The entire internship was a unique experience, which I am sure would be difficult to match elsewhere. The work the institute does is especially prestigious, big and necessary for today’s urban communities. The continuous process of learning and re-learning was very exciting too. I would encourage interested students to be a part of this paradigm, to broaden his/her horizons.