Is Data The Biggest Barrier To A Successful Internship?
Being offered an internship in Training Institute of a $40 billion Construction giant was weird. The conglomerate known by the name of two Danish Engineers “Larsen & Toubro” in an Engineer’s paradise but was it for MBA? Somehow, I managed to console myself that this will really be a cool and an awesome opportunity to learn and showcase my talent. After the honeymoon period of 3 days at LDA Lonavala where we were inducted, I was mentally prepared for the grilling at a hot and humid temperature of the South Indian beauty of Chennai.
I have been very tough with my mind, giving my brain a lot of pain visualizing things, perplexed between the feelings of nervousness and excitement. I had imagined my office as a place where I will be surrounded by people and had expected a lot of respect, being from the college renowned as the Mecca of Operations and SCM.
My first steps in office shattered all my dreams when I saw that there are only 5 people in my department including me. I saw Ganpati Ji’s photo on the wall and remembered all the sins I have committed in the past. I got an intuition that I will be doomed and my dreams of putting a #MBA over status are over. All these thoughts popped into my mind before I met anyone there. But, somewhere deep in my heart, I felt that something much better is reserved for me.
My first meeting with my mentor changed every perspective of my limited thinking towards people and team. The way I was introduced to the team and the project was very heart-warming and pleasant. It inculcated in me, the same spirit that was there before entering this place. My project began at an accelerating pace and I was done with creating my project timeline and thorough literature review in a week. Maybe, I was over enthusiastic or I liked the Air Conditioning or the hospitality of L&T. But the reality was, it was the work that I was enjoying.
After a week, the villain of my project made the first appearance. Consisting of 4 letters and looks like a very common and generic term but have made the whole world crazy behind it. Yes, you guessed it right, its “DATA”. My department had no collection of data. If they had, this article would not have been written.
The quest for the collection of data began when I went wandering into the streets of L&T HQ at 40 degrees temperature and God knows what units of humidity. From morning till evening, I used to call lots of known as well as unknown people literally begging for data. I remember waiting for HRs and other managers for hours finding no luck. I exhausted all my contacts calling all my L&T batchmates, friends of friends, acquaintances and what not.
Days passed searching for a relevant source of data but I found disappointment everywhere. That’s when I realized the importance of data. All I needed was a drop from the vast oceans of L&T but I found nothing. One fine day, after the consistent efforts of me and my mentor, we could arrange a meeting with the planning head of Buildings and Factories of L&T. I prepared thoroughly for the presentation that I began to believe that this is my full and final chance of doing something meaningful from my Summers. I was so tensed that I began to make backup plans for my career. Anyways, they liked my presentation and immediately deployed me to Bangalore.
Initially, I was happy and I had every reason to be. I no longer had to face the hostility of Lord Indra and I was about to do something worthy after 1 year. The thought that I will be going to a Construction site never came across me.
Then came the D day when I entered the premises of the construction site for the first time. I was under the impression that the Construction site and a manufacturing plant must be similar in ambience and working conditions BUT that was the biggest misconception of my life. That day, I started respecting Civil engineers more. The site was in a complete mess, dust all over, construction material was spilled to such an extent that people have made a pathway from it. It was 180 degrees opposite from Plant and was in an entirely different dimension compared to IT Parks.
The very first day, I was cluelessly waiting to meet the Planning Manager of the site. Utilising the time and to avoid the fear, I prepared a pitch to deliver. All in vain, the manager didn’t even listen about my project and designated me to a person, a Planning engineer who became my biggest nightmare in the coming 3 weeks. Woah, what a quick meeting. I got the hint that these people are not in a mood to bear an intern. And that hint converted to a strong belief till evening.
I don’t know what Planning engineer understood me. Did he even understand that I was a business student or was he under the impression that I was just an engineering graduate who came here from a big reference to enjoy the summers? I didn’t know how to deal with those who don’t give ears to you. Till evening, it was evident to me that I would not be able to gel well with them so all I wanted to concentrate on was how to extract data as soon as possible and get back to Chennai. In a single day, I felt so demotivated and depressed that I wanted to run away from this. A question haunted me, did I leave my AC job and cracked the most difficult exam for this day?
Anyways, this was just a beginning. The Non- Cooperation movement has already started from the Planning engineer side. Whenever I dared to discuss a concept, all he could say is “you have never been on a site, how would you understand?”. I became so numb while listening to this that I was about to lose sense. I was alone in this battle and I had to win them over to get anything from them. I understood that life is not a bed of roses and I must strive hard to get even a single byte of data.
From the next day, my motivation to come to the office changed. Now, it was to win the Planning Engineer. I started coming to the office at 7 AM, an hour before the shift starts and used to leave at 10 PM. I had to prove my capabilities and my worth. I did petty things which were not at all related to my Project. I made excel sheets, took printouts, repaired PCs, proofread documents and what not. I read the 700 pages tender document to know the in and out of the project. I did it all what could have been done.
Finally, after lots of tantrums, he was compelled to talk. Life becomes a lot easier when someone is willing to listen. At last, situations got better and he started sharing things. After three full weeks, he acknowledged that I am a B-school student and not a Civil Engineering Trainee. He gave the data and I began to think was it worth? Would I have understood things without entering the site?
My scepticism converted into strong reliance and I answered, Yes I needed to be grilled to understand Construction. Extracting data is easy but building or understanding the origin of the data is where the actual joy lies. Even today, when I think about my internship I remember the data incident and smile thanking the Planning Engineer for making my internship fruitful.
– Pulkit Benada
Batch of 2019, NITIE