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FAQs

Which cities are we based in at the moment? Do you accept volunteers for all these locations?

We operate out of Mumbai and Pune at present. Yes, we are open to having volunteers both places.

 

Why should I join Atma as a Volunteer?

Volunteering with Atma means that you will join a network of inspiring thought leaders in the non-profit space in Mumbai/Pune. By contributing your skills and expertise, you will strengthen and endorse the amazing work that Atma’s portfolio organisations are doing. Atma volunteers have met with incredible success in the development sector, often going on to work with innovative organisations from our network or founding their own social enterprises.

You should apply if:

  • You are interested in a career in the development sector
  • You want to learn how things work at the grass-root level
  • You want to explore a world outside your own
  • You want to meet inspiring people from across the world
  • You want to test your abilities and discover what you are really capable of

 

Who can volunteer at Atma? What kind of work can I expect to do?

At Atma we look for diversity, not just with where you come from, but also what you do. Historically our 300+ volunteer cohort has included consultants, teachers, lawyers, doctors, accountants, pilots and jugglers (true story)!

These amazing people have worked on projects ranging from curriculum development, designing HR systems and processes, financial management, designing marketing campaigns, website design, designing and implementing fundraising campaigns, leadership development, photography, teacher training, making videos, program design and documentation. Your roles will vary based on your level of experience:

  • Consultants 8+ years of professional experience
  • Senior Associates: 3 to 7 years of professional experience
  • Associates: Graduate and/or 1 to 2 years of professional experience

 

Why does the volunteer experience require an intensive time commitment?

At Atma, we believe that sustainable change takes a significant time to take root and grow. Taking the time to do projects to the best of our capacity delivers the best results. Normally we only take on volunteers who can commit to a minimum of 3 months. In order for the volunteer and the organisation to get the most out of the experience. Typically, our volunteers find that their time with Atma follows a general pattern. The first month is one for learning and observation, the second month is for conceptualising their project with the Atma portfolio organisation, and the third month is for executing and finalising the project.

Where will I work?

Atma works with 15 education non-profits and social enterprises in Mumbai and 4 in Pune. These are innovative organisations that are working to address the education gaps in India. For a full list of our current and graduated Portfolio’s please visit www.atma.org.in. Depending on the nature of the project, Atma volunteers divide their time between the Atma office (located in Bandra) and the portfolio organisation that they are placed with.

Will I receive induction training and support?

All Atma volunteers receive intensive support from staff. Listed below are the various types of support that you will receive throughout the program.

Life support (International Volunteers): Atma will provide you with support that will enable you to experience the city like any other local volunteer:

  • Pre- Arrival: We understand that moving to a new country and adapting to a foreign culture can be an overwhelming experience. At Atma, we do our best to prepare volunteers for their stay in Mumbai/Pune. All volunteers receive a pre-arrival information pack to help them better adjust to a new culture and environment.
  • Atma also provides all international volunteers assistance in planning for travel and logistics, visa information, accommodation*.
  • Arrival: Atma arranges for volunteers to be picked up from the airport to their place of accommodation by an Atma representative (see optional service fee). The Volunteer is also briefed and accompanied to the Atma office for the first time. All volunteers are given an orientation about: Locality (so they know how to identify landmarks, where to buy supplies from), how to access medical help in case of health or other issues, how to access public transport, acquiring internet and phones.

Professional Support (Local & International Volunteers)

This includes work support in the form of:

  • Induction
  • Regular Feedback & professional guidance
  • Weekly meetings with supervisor
  • Mid-term appraisals
  • Volunteer professional meetings
  • Exit interviews

Miscellaneous support (Local & International Volunteers)

As an Atma volunteer you will have access to:

  • Workshops and trainings facilitated by Atma
  • Volunteer social activities
  • Volunteer community
  • A network of non-profits and social enterprises in Mumbai

Will I be paid?

Atma’s volunteer program is unpaid, but Atma invests in you. Over a three month volunteership, Atma provides approximately 100 hours of support to each volunteer.

This ensures that each Atma volunteer is supported in every area of their work and life in Mumbai/Pune.

How do I apply?

The application is a 3 step process. Please see below:

  1. Online Application: After you submit your basic details using an online form, the Volunteer Manager will send you an email with the next steps along with a detailed online application form.
  2. Interviews: If your application is shortlisted you will be required to undergo 2 rounds of interview before you can be selected into the program. The Volunteer Manager will set up the interviews at a time convenient for you. For international applicants, these interviews will be conducted via Skype or phone at a mutually convenient time.
  3. Final steps: If you have been successful at the interview stage the Volunteer Manager will send you an email acceptance with further instructions to pay the optional service fee (if applicable). Upon successful receipt of payment, Atma will send you a formal acceptance letter!

*Optional Service Fee:

Having hosted more than 250 volunteers from over 25 countries, we at Atma understand that volunteering abroad can be extremely challenging. This is why we offer to assist all our International volunteers with logistics and planning. Please see below a break-down of the fees and assistance we provide:

Accommodation (AUD $200):

The average price of housing in Mumbai/Pune is INR 18,000 per month. Additionally, to find accommodation through a broker you will need to pay a brokerage fee of at least Rs. 18,000 and a deposit of Rs. 20,000 over and above the rent. By opting for accommodation assistance through Atma you can avoid paying the brokerage fee and saving a minimum of AUD $100.

Airport Pick-up (AUD $25):

Opting for this service will ensure that you have a friendly face at the airport when you arrive! An Atma representative will pick you up and drop you off to your place of accommodation.

Local SIM card (AUD $25):

Procuring a local SIM card can be a tedious process requiring multiple document proofs and innumerable trips to the service provider’s centre. Atma offers to have a phone with a local SIM card ready for you to use upon your arrival!

When are applications open?

Applications are open all year round. Ideally, a candidate would apply to be a volunteer about 4-5 months before they would like to start their placement.

Mumbai / Pune FAQs

What is the weather like in Mumbai/Pune?

Mumbai/Pune weather is hot and humid throughout the year. Summer (March to May) is the hottest and most humid time of year. Temperatures range from about 30C to

40C during the daytime. Monsoon season (June to September) has heavy rain and strong winds; flooding is common. Winter (November to February) is quite nice with cool northern breezes that maintain a comfortable temperature.

 

What shoes should I bring?

Volunteers should bring comfortable supportive shoes that can be used on uneven surfaces.

People often also wear flip-flops or sandals during the hotter months.

What will I eat in Mumbai/Pune?

Most of Atma’s volunteers find they eat out most of the time. This can be done cheaply with many different options available. Most Atma volunteers become mostly vegetarian during their placements, as vegetarian food is the least costly and most widely available. There are many restaurants that can cater to your cravings for western food, and there are shops that sell imported groceries from around the world; these, however, do come with a price tag. After a while, you will discover Indian brands that are just as good and relatively cheap. Most volunteers hardly ever cook in and volunteer flats often don’t have kitchens.

How will I get around?

Mumbai/Pune abounds with transport options. Most volunteers take public transport: buses, and trains or taxis or auto-rickshaws. Transport can seem daunting at first, but it’s easy to get into the groove and be able to find your way around easily. Atma will support you in areas like this during the first days after your arrival.

What can I do for fun?

Mumbai/Pune has a very active and exciting social scene, it is easy to make friends and join activities. Most volunteers have enjoyed going to the cinema or theatre, and attending academic talks or expat events. There are also great destinations near the city where you can go for the weekend. In the city, there are many opportunities for clubbing and partying. While Atma encourages each volunteer to experience all aspects of life in Mumbai/Pune, we have strict policies regarding professionalism, and expect that volunteers take care of their energy and health and are fully prepared for work. A volunteer’s social life should not interfere with the work they have committed to do at Atma.

Will I be able to buy the basic things I need?

Yes, Mumbai/Pune has many shopping options and most brands are easily available. If you use a specific brand of shampoo you might want to bring that along. There are also many shopping malls. Things that are hard to find include tampons, contact solution and sunscreen, and you may prefer to bring these from home.

What happens if I get sick?

Minor health issues are common when visiting a new country and environment. Before you leave for India, consult your doctor for all the correct immunizations and advice. Atma supports Atma volunteers, and we will help you in the event of illness to see the right doctor and get the right medication. We strongly advise all volunteers to purchase travel medical insurance before coming to India.

What do I wear for the office?

Office dress is smart casual: jeans or pants with a button down shirt are acceptable. The local, Indian-style option is salwar kameez, which is also very acceptable. We ask that you not wear tank tops, shorts, and t-shirts in the office, and avoid- anything short, tight or low cut.

What can I wear on the weekends?

For women, it is best to carry a scarf at all times to cover your shape with. There are places in Mumbai/Pune where girls regularly wear short skirts, but there are other places you won’t even see girls wearing jeans. Foreigners- especially women- may be viewed with a critical eye, so it is important to modify your appearance to counteract this perception.

Do make sure to bring some nice western clothes also, as there are lots of parties and clubs you may want to go to.

Are there outdoor activities or places I can exercise?

Outdoor exercise opportunities are limited in Mumbai. There are some places to exercise outdoors. Certain clubs will have your favourite sport available. There is swimming at most private clubs and high-end hotels, swimming in the ocean is not possible.

What Visa do I need?

Once an Atma Volunteer is accepted, visa requirements are discussed with the

Volunteer Manager. Please note: All volunteers must come on an employment visa or X (entry) visa. You cannot volunteer at Atma on a tourist visa.