Banking With A Difference – Preeti’s Internship Experience At World Bank
An internship experience, much like that of a job isn’t restricted to the hours spent in the comfortable confines of the office. It includes the flavour of the new city you might get to explore- the local traffic problems and the cuisines which are as colourful and diverse points of comparisons as any other when it comes to India.
Come April 2017 and I was faced with the intimidating prospect of a ‘Summer in Chennai’. Terrible water, an eternal battle against autorickshaw drivers and particularly vengeful summer sunrays were what I had to look forward to. Top it off with the hunt for decent, short-term accommodation and the recipe for a heart-breaking tragedy was right there.
To combat these, I had the comfort that quite a few of my college friends were right there with me, one of whom also became my roommate in the only liveable PG we could find. Thiruvanmiyur Beach was merely a couple of minutes away and soon became our regular thinking spot. The cap on movie ticket prices was a blessing which had most of our weekends sorted. *wink*
But all my apprehensions and expectations of what lay ahead, paled in comparison every time I thought of starting my internship at World Bank. Just 2 hours into our induction process and we were already intensely aware of what its ideals stood for. From the building architecture to the reasoning behind changing its access road (Google Maps has not caught up yet), it was clear that no compromises would be tolerated here over even the most seemingly minute details.
I had the fortune to be a part of a brilliant team who genuinely cared about each other and participated in their victories and sorrows. There were various instances where I could see this camaraderie being reflected, be it the farewell for those selected for DAIS or for inter-department transfers or just the casual conversations and bantering among colleagues.
Though we were interns, the organisation made us feel right at home by treating us like employees from Day 1. While they were extremely busy at the time I started my internship, both my managers – Mr. Saswata Jana and Mr. Sridharan Srinivasan took time out for an introduction and to briefly introduce the project details. And then my mentor Mr. Narayanan Vijayakumar took over for settling me into the project and giving a better understanding of what I would be working on. A few days later, I got to meet my Task Team Lead, Ms. Sangeetha Ravikumar too who welcomed me to the team and pleasantly enquired after my understanding of the Bank’s working and about the project.
Finance students are generally perceived as quiet, nerdy people with their heads wrapped in a thick fog of numbers from which they rarely emerge. Staying true to this image, I was started off on tomes describing the financial instruments and financial products offered by World Bank to its borrowers. Although I can’t go into specifics about my project due to confidentiality concerns, I can vouch that even getting to know about the workings of such a supranational organisation was totally worth it. As Mr. Sunil Kumar – the Center Manager himself put it, the functioning of the World Bank is completely different from that of any commercial bank. And I believe the social aspect to it is what keeps the members so motivated and committed to their work.
Though there was the apprehension that my project work might get monotonous over time, it was countered by the excitement of regular reviews by Saswata sir and Narayanan sir which made my work feel important. Narayanan sir also suggested some offshoot testing that I could do apart from the project work. This was interesting since it was an indication of the depth of information that could be sought beyond what my structured project aimed to glean. When it was finally time to put together the internship report, I could see all the pieces come together and with Saswata sir’s help, I could understand how the different data points from my project would aid the team’s regular work.
I will sign off with the three most important things I learned this summer.
Learning 1: Go beyond your JD
While your job may detail out a few points for you to focus on, there is a host of knowledge that you can get from exploring the organisation’s intranet and any process documents you can read. It’ll give you a better understanding of the organisation’s motto, structure and interaction with other entities.
Learning 2: Interact with your team members
Everyone at the Bank was so down-to-earth and genuine that it took me an embarrassingly long time to discover that each of them had amazing qualifications and work experience! Their years of experience and depth of knowledge regarding the various projects and their impacts was frankly, very daunting. But these two months are when I learned the power of asking for help. As long as you time it right, seeking out help can give wondrous results- be it in your professional life or personal. You do not need to repeat experiments conducted earlier by other people. Most likely, it will give you the same results but end up wasting your time. Seek inputs.
Learning 3: Stay motivated
Every job will tend to become routine work once you get comfortable with the role requirements. Spice it up by taking interesting online training modules (learning 1), interacting with your colleagues (learning 2) or sprucing up your desk! I saw first-hand how pleasant it can be (for you and those around) to have a small fish bowl with some Mollies in it.