Have you ever danced on a table in a bar? Well I have, during two incredible months of my internship.
The story is different in the sense that it belongs to a perfectly average person. I just happen to have a lot of determination for the things I want for myself. And with my internship, started the most exciting phase of my life in a city that never sleeps, in a company that I was waiting to work for. Being the first person to be placed for summers, I had all the time in the world to dream about how things would be during my internship. I had imagined a lot of pressure, people who would be really agile, an extremely professional setup and blah blah! The first string was to apprise me of my project details.
“Redesigning customer satisfaction survey”
Much to my horror, I knew I sucked when it came to market research. I started doing the subject from scratch, this time with a true sense of urgency and need. Knowledge, however can be improved upon, what happened to take my nights’ sleep away was the first mail asking for my travel details – with my co-interns CCed in there, all from the most coveted institutes in the country. It built up multiple reasons for pressure as to whether I’d be able to perform even a fraction as well as anyone of them, since most of them had outperformed me once and they could do it again. I wasn’t competitive then, I was fearful.
So I meet 5 of the 26 interns at Delhi airport for we had the same flight taking us to Mumbai. We had interacted pretty well before coming to Mumbai, thanks to the FIVE whatsapp groups (Yes, I’m serious!) formed by the HRs of our company and the video making homework that was given to us weeks before the internship. The video was to be presented on the 1st day of the 7 day long induction. The day I entered the RPG House, there was an air of intrigue and an aura about the place. There was also some sense of the thrills-and-chills along with an embedded sense of responsibility that came in association of being there. There was so much done for us, just to let us know that they were waiting for us just as much as we were waiting to work with them. Plant visits in Mumbai and Vadodara, fitment surveys in Pune and all similar kind of things that introduced us to the nitty gritties of the company and the business overall were performed as a part of the induction program. Apart from all this, the MD and the ED-HR also took welcoming sessions with us, inquiring about our opinions on the programme and the group as a whole. We were treated just as good as the employees, with the same perks and the same respect, or maybe even more. By the time the induction ended, and we all started to work on our respective projects, we at least knew the pre-requisites well. And CEAT office – one of the funkiest that I had ever seen, was an art gallery, with a ravishing lounge at the backside and a chilling zone in the basement. So on my first official working day to office, I chose a desk right next to my manager’s, with just a pane of glass separating us. He could see what I was doing just by tilting his head a little. And as I meet my manager, he tells me that my project has been changed and puts forth the title of my new project:
“Process definition for centralized order processing”
Homework wasted, I told myself. It was a supply chain project and mind you, I was a marketing intern. The next unalarmed thing that comes is that he is taking me to the project’s CFT (Cross functional team) meeting so that I get a better introduction to the project. The meeting lasted for more that 2 hours and as I came back, I had the severest of headaches I’ve ever had. The people in there were warehouses of knowledge and after that week long induction, I felt like a dumb fool. From that moment on to the day of the next meeting(which was almost a month later), I was so well versed with the project and its details that I was the one presenting the possible hindrances for the project and all of them were working on the problems identified by me and issues that I had raised, issues that were identified by field visits in Navi Mumbai and Vashi. The dealer visits gave me insights totally different from what anyone could get sitting in the fully air conditioned HO. I went to the dealers with a prepared questionnaire, which I realized, after the first dealer itself, needed a lot of iterations.
People in the field had absolutely no interest in the upcoming technologies as long as it doesn’t benefit them by reducing the order fulfillment time. They are people who literally make or break the initiatives taken by the company.
After completing the project in a month, I asked for a marketing project and I finally got one in BTL and digital marketing. This was an extensive one because the portal that I was supposed to market was yet to be developed and that too became a part of my project. New domain! New managers! New things to learn! My manager would visit my desk two times a day, asking how the day is going, how am I finding my project and things like that. All of my friends from college used to crib about how their manager is not giving them time. And here I was, getting most attention! The best part was that my managers emphasized more on my learning than the contribution that I’ll be making towards the project. Despite the fact that companies are intrinsically competitive, I found a sense of helpfulness along with a cooperative culture and team spirit there at CEAT. Besides all this, the culture of this company had its roots in transparency and the structure could not be flatter. The GMs and the VPs would sit on desks just beside yours and the CIO would happily greet you in the morning.
These aspects were very endearing to me. I wanted to utilize every moment there and learn as much as I could and I realized that I was yet to unravel the mysteries of corporate life. There was so much that lied ahead.
Then came the time for the first final domain wise presentation in front of the VP-Marketing of the company, I had made sure that I make most of the projects that I had. Please note that my projects weren’t the flashy ones that earn you a brownie point just by their title. Being the last one to present, I knew that people weren’t treated like a pampered baby in the conference room. We had to justify our contribution in these two months. So I knew that everything I will be talking would be giving them an opinion on me. Contrary to the time limit and the average presentation time, which was 30 minutes, mine lasted for some 55 odd minutes and I could tell that the VP loved my work. All my recommendations were taken and I was asked to modify few things. While explaining the required changes and his ideas on what I was doing, his exact words were:
“You can directly come to my desk anytime and we’ll discuss this in detail.”
This was said by the VP-marketing, who hardly is able to make time for anyone. He out rightly told me how happy he was. And out of the two shortlisted interns from that particular domain- I was the first one and also, one the top 10 interns hired by the group. That was when I could tell that I really have made the most of it. And there’s nothing like being told by the senior most managers that you’ll be missed and getting three farewells from three different sets of people when you’ve stayed with them for just two months. On the hindsight, my internship has been more of an introspection, helping me know my interest areas better as well as helping me grasp so much of tacit knowledge about the working of various things. It was a tremendous value addition and has helped me evolve in many ways.
On the fun side, my company sponsored various movies and events, and I being a people person got to go to most of the big events – IPLs, promotional parties for Bollywood movies, award shows and what not! I would bump into some big shot any random day in office. Mumbai indeed is the city of life. The sea face takes your worries away! Nice places to eat and drink, all good things merged in a city. On my last day in Mumbai, I went for one last time to Carter Road, one place I’ve always been in love with, then took a taxi to Parel where the group had organized a farewell for us in HRC, headed back at 3 a.m. to the flat that I had rented in Worli, picked my luggage and took a taxi to sea face. What better place to enjoy the monsoons! The raindrops were bashing their head on me and I can’t describe how much I was waiting to see the Mumbai rains. Honestly, I still don’t think that I have bid my byes to the city. Nobody ever can.
There has always been this tremendous longing in my heart to be lost, to be someplace else, to be far far away from my own thought process, to not think of anything and simply letting the place absorb me in it. These were the two months where I have felt passionate about everything. I have loved the city I have lived in, embraced it with an open heart and met people like I never had any boundaries. The moments shall be cherished. The sea shall be missed.
Amisha Chawla, IIM Ranchi
--- (This is an official entry to the Summer Saga 2015 Competition. If you have an internship story that could compete against the best in India, give it a shot! Read the instructions here and start writing!)