Sramana Mitra: Absolutely. If you were starting a company today, what unsolved problem would you be looking at?
Radhika Subramanian: Education.
Sramana Mitra: What about education? Have you given it any further thought? Education is going through a massive disruption right now.
Radhika Subramanian: I’m going to give you a short version of what would probably be another three hours because I’m so passionate about this. I agree with you. Education is going through this huge disruption in the way education’s being offered. The part where we are not doing an education is we are not helping the kids and we are not aligning education with the economy.
The educators are not helping these people to create a roadmap from what they’re good at and what they want to learn to being able to support themselves. So that connection is missing. We can do a great job in delivering education inexpensively with all these online classes but that’s not what it is. By the way, we do a ton of internships at Emcien. I love meeting the interns but they don’t know what to do with what they had learned. They always come to me and say, “I don’t know what to do.”
Sramana Mitra: There’s a huge gap between a degree and actual skills that the marketplace can consume. There’s been a big debate about how unpaid internships should be illegal. I completely disagree with that whole viewpoint. I think unpaid internships actually bridge that gap.
Radhika Subramanian: You are right. The comments you made that a degree is not preparing you for the workforce is right but on the intern side, I told my organization that, “We owe this to the intern. I don’t want to have interns come in and sit here and stare out the window, which means we don’t take an intern unless we’ve actually designed the task for them.” Once you’ve designed the task for them, I think it’s criminal to have an intern and not pay them. I refuse to do it. At the end of the day, if we pay them we can actually hold them accountable and say, “Did you actually get done what you were supposed to do?” There’s accountability. Also, it goes against capitalism.
Sramana Mitra: I completely disagree with you on this subject, actually. If you’re looking at a mature company where they have the bandwidth and the budgets to do a lot of the paid internships where basically people come with no skills and you have to invest on the training and management time, that can be done. I think small companies can’t do that.
It was a pleasure talking to you, Radhika.