Of Thespians, Pasta and Talent Management – A Personal Internship Story

So it’s that time at last. When boys come back to the fold having grown into men. Brave warriors come back either displaying the spoils of victory or licking their wounds. Young men and women come back to enjoy one final year of happiness before descending into the daily drudgery of work.

I of course talk about the end of the summer internships and the return to campus for the final year. We come back with a lot of different experiences, some of them brilliant, some downright scary. But everyone has a story to tell and experiences that are special to them.

I first thought of putting down the takeaways and learnings of my own internship but then it hit me that these words sound so official; something that you would use to give a well-rounded feel to your final project presentation. And if there was one thing I will always remember about my internship, it’s that I never approached it with the sole intention of becoming a thorough, well-rounded professional.

The professional elements were of course a very big part of it. I worked directly with the India HR Head. I interacted with people who had more than 3 decades of industry experience. I got the chance to present my work to the overall country head and the HR head of 3 geographies. And let me tell you now, it is quite a rush. To get the chance to present your blood and sweat to these people, to see them listening to what you have to say, give you suggestions on how to improve your work and say words of appreciation; this is what spurs people on to go that extra mile. All of it happened to me and I will never forget it. Not just the work, a person can learn a lot from these people just by watching them in their interactions with others. The level of perceptiveness required, the way to treat a person’s subordinates and to understand when you need to intervene and when to trust somebody to deliver – all these are traits that constitute a top leader. And when you watch the masters at work, it is impossible not to feel impressed.

But my internship also had a very special personal angle to it. I may have only been there for 10 weeks but I’ve come back with quite a goodie-bag. I return with the memories of jokes and pranks played in office, of long conversations held when the rest of the floor had all gone back to their homes and families. I come back with the stories of people, about their search for finding out what it is they were meant to do and all the (mis)adventures they had on the way and the deeply personal life experiences that we shared. An advantage of being the youngest member in a team is that people accept and appreciate your desire to know more while at the same time dismissing your occasional transgressions as down to youthful inexperience and exuberance. And being afforded this space to fail makes it the perfect chance to learn more about others and about yourself.
And something far more basic, I will miss the atmosphere of fun, the team lunches and birthdays and more team gatherings almost always accompanied by food

There was lots of food. And then some
There was lots of food. And then some

My internship also gave me the chance to do a lot of the things that I love and had been unable to do as much for the past year. It ranged from something as simple as visiting the restaurant that serves my favourite pasta, to getting to play a little more music to just going to every play and concert possible; from feeding the body to feeding the soul, I spent many a memorable evening in the company of some fantastic people.

The stage in all its forms
The stage in all its forms

I got to spend some much needed time with myself too. Having fortuitously secured a corner room all to myself, I had enough late evenings either reading a book or just practicing the harmonica, knowing that I would not be disturbed. And I could never forget the time when I was out walking on the sand of a completely deserted Chowpatty beach at 3 in the morning, with only my thoughts and the soft sounds of the surf hitting the beach for company (in crazy Bombay, some might even describe such an experience as transcendental or spiritual). And there were lots of long walks – most of them along the sea –which gave me the chance to slow down a bit, take a look at myself, recharge my batteries after a crazy past couple of years, get things in perspective and just gear up to make some decisions that I had to make.

Just the distant city lights and the surf
Just the distant city lights and the surf

So I did learn a lot, enhanced my technical knowledge, improved upon my organizational skills; but at the same time also grew as a person. Now that I’m back to tackle second year, I can feel I’m not the same person that left having survived first year. I’ve come back a little more fearless, a little keener, a little less afraid to fail. Maybe to put it more melodramatically, I’m trying to understand that we can’t always be heroes but it doesn’t do to be intimidated by the occasion. Let’s hope it lasts a while.

– Nadeem

Nadeem is currently trying to make sense of Life, the Universe and Everything having just come to the end of his summer internship and gearing up for second year. He’s also a music lover, master of 3 musical instruments, undiscovered singing prodigy, class jester, wordsmith, and the secret identity of Superman all rolled into one charming package. You can follow him at nadeemraj.insideiim.com

He’s an amateur storyteller at 42shadesoctarine.wordpress.com

Drop him a line on Twitter or Facebook. He doesn’t usually bite.

Nadeem Raj

Nadeem is a class of 2015 student at XLRI, Jamshedpur in the HR stream after working for 3 and a half years with TCS in the Program Management function. He is a big fan of literature and music and will be doing his summer internship with Novartis Pharmaceuticals.