Any “Idea” What I did This Summer?

I was too desperate to find my name in the list of selected candidates on the notice board. Three good companies were already done with their processes taking 16 of my friends. Twice I made up to the interview round. Somehow stumbling on the last roadblock – I didn’t know what to do. Pressure growing all around. Doubts over my own credibility and suitability haunting me every night. This placement was getting too much on my mind. That was when “Idea” changed my life.

Those three golden words’ phrase is perhaps the second best among the three-word phrases. “You are selected”. God! I so desperately wanted to hear them. The job location was the icing on the cake. Mumbai it was – the city of dreams. I was lost in excitement after hearing that. The next thing I could remember was me dancing in my room, with a teddy in my hand. How I ended up in to that position – well, I really don’t know. People need weeds to go blank. It was just one good deed for me today.

The HR at Idea was regularly in contact with me and she told me that for the first seven days, the guest house of Idea will be for my disposal. Further, I would have to look for my arrangements on my own. Many of my friends had decided to rent the NITIE hostels. I did the same. Never I thought about the consequences of having my office twenty odd kilometers away in a city like Mumbai. I was in love with Mumbai – the queen’s necklace, the beautiful beaches, the food, the sophistication of youngsters there, the odd chances of bumping on to a star from bollywood, or even with some cricketers due to the IPL season; was something I was looking forward to.

Many of my friends had got an internship in Mumbai and we had all booked our flight tickets together. For the first seven days while I was at Idea’s guest house, I was living like a princess. There was always a car at the guest house ready to drop me to the office and bring me back, cosy bed and the beautiful clean room every time I returned. Things changed slightly when I shifted to the NITIE hostel. And that was when I realized that the days of my comforts are gone and the struggle is the next part of this internship period. The story of getting a room in the hostel was itself a tragedy. That would take a lot of space if I start narrating that – purely because that not only tested my patience but also decreased my cortisol level, increased my heart rate and simulated the left part of the brain a little too much – in short made me terribly angry.

The office experience was great. However on the first day, I got an impression that they didn’t have anything planned for me. I was allotted a project on “Benchmarking of Competitor’s policies for the Activation Officers”. It required talking to the HR of various other organizations and get data from them. It was tough! Convincing any HR is tough. And a competition’s HR- it can’t be worse. I learnt to do several role-plays. Sometimes as the original intern, sometime as a TRAI officer, sometimes as a person seeking a job, sometime as a student doing a project and many more. I had to make sure that every time I used the same number as a particular role-play. The chances of being caught were very high. And the consequences will be bad for my project – I knew.

The most challenging part was the travel. In the beginning I enjoyed it because I got to see new things. But then, a week later, I was bored. The bus will be at a halt me than it would be moving. The pollution is at the alarming height. The time taken for the travel was pretty high as well. It would take almost two hours to return. It became an eight to eight job eventually. Fridays looked like a distant dream and Mondays would come pretty fast. I started to hate Mumbai for that.

On the day this project was given to me; the time of 4 weeks was allotted. “Finish this in 4 weeks and we shall give you another project.” I felt myself as the ‘jinn’ of the lamp who was always given another job once he was finished with the earlier one. I finished the project well within the time. For a couple of weeks, I had no data. But then, once I figured out the way to get them, it was just too easy for me. You need to think out of the box is what they say. I had to get data out of their boxes. I did that.

After the first week, they changed the mentor and gave me another project. This time it was related to Rewards and Recognition. They had floated a survey and got some results. I had to get the analysis done. After one week, my mentor added another dimension to it. “Since you have done the benchmarking in your earlier project so well,” he said, “Why don’t you do a similar benchmarking of the rewards policies as well?” I didn’t have any option but to accept that.

During the third week of my second project, he came up to me and said, “Look! We have some new people joining next month. We plan to organize an outbound training for them. Just look for vendors and do a ranking.” I was already puzzled by the data analysis but before I could say anything he turned and said, “You may also show it as another project of yours!” I smiled. I felt that indeed I came out of some lamp. Even worse was that he didn’t even wait for one job to be finished. Just kept on burying them on my shoulder. I backed myself up. “Just a couple of more weeks girl! I know I can do it!”

Finally, it all ended. All the projects done and dusted. Later, I got to know through a conversation amongst them that they had hired a consultant three months before for the policy drafting of the Activation officers and somehow didn’t like the proposal. The same job was given to me. The TRAI had asked all the companies to get done with this thing as soon as possible and it was kind of very urgent. I loved the background story of that. I knew that I had done a good job because by the time I finished my internship seven policies were already drafted and awaited approval. Most of them were the same I had recommended based on the competitor benchmarking.

They appreciated my second project but suggested that it required some more number crunching. I suggested them ideas on the basis of my previous work experience as well and they liked that. Overall, I was satisfied with all the effort I had put in more than anyone else.

“We do have a PPI policy as you would know. I will definitely propose your name for the PPI if I am asked to give my opinion.” The Senior Manager, HR said. “You are only the guys who give opinion. Who will seek opinion from you” I said to myself.

The internship taught me various things. The first one is the difference between the theoretical and the practical life. Things are very different outside. And more challenging as well. Nothing goes smoothly – if it does you are on the wrong track. This was one thing I learnt during the internship – not always true.

You got to help yourself every time. There is nothing called a ‘friend in need’ in the corporate life. Miracles do not happen and if they do, you are just plain lucky. The most important thing I learnt was enriched me personally. I learnt to talk to strangers. I was not comfortable talking to people, I talked over 300 strangers in that period. I learnt to convince them. I learnt to trick them for ideas. I got to know a lot about the office dynamics. Hailing from a technical background, I got the taste of the managerial side for the first time. And yes, the most important lesson – IIN doesn’t help you at all and goes for a toss when you need it the most.

I can summarize the whole experience in these lines:

“I went to the city of dreams to fly like a bird

The traffic and crowd didn’t let me flutter free

Challenges, problems blocked my way – I persisted

And now having faced ‘em all, I come out as a stronger lady.”



Silva Acharya

Summer Intern at Idea Cellular Ltd