A Summer With Skyscrapers: Riddhi Kalra’s Internship Experience At House Of Hiranandani
“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” –Mark Twain
Summer Placements do crazy things to students in b-schools. The best and the worst of human beings are clear when most of them want the same thing, especially if there is hardly a way to say that someone deserves that thing and someone else does not. And it’s more complicated than a bunch of people wanting a pot of gold. It is that dire need to prove one’s worth (as it is seen at that point, however much we disagree now).
The Journey to Placement
I have a B.B.A background from a university that’s not an IIT/NIT and I do not have work experience. After a term that basically brought to my notice that despite my stellar past academic record, I was a shade less than the mediocre student at IIM Trichy, Placements haunted my waking hours. Enough people told me that I should take any sales or marketing role (since those roles are commonly offered to freshers) that came my way and not be selective of the domain I was interested in – HR. So when placement week i.e Day -1, 0, 1, 2 came… I was sitting alone in my dorm room without getting shortlisted for any of the companies I applied to. It was a depressing phase, to see three-fourth of the batch walk around in suits at least doing something, (even if only a couple of them were finally selected by each recruiter) in the GDs or Interviews while it felt like all I was doing was just waiting for shortlists. On Day 3, I finally got shortlisted for the Interview of House of Hiranandani for the HR role, and after a brief interview, I found myself placed. That’s when I realised that there were many people unplaced around me whom I had thought would get placed before me. From your vulnerabilities, arise your greatest strengths. I would say that you find your truest friends after the ordeal of summer placements. Often, it’s a friend’s help in terms of preparation for an interview that has got quite a few people their conversions.
The offer letter arrived, and I knew that my location was my home city, Chennai (much to the envy of my peers). House of Hiranandani is an upscale real estate development company, famed for building the tallest building in Chennai, the Bayview. The offices were in the same premises and that meant a cool walk in and work environment. Located on the Old Mahabalipuram Road/East Coast area of Chennai, the hub of offices, (and a two-hour drive from my house), meant that I left home at 7:30 am and returned at 7:30 pm.
The First Day
The 2nd of April, 2018 was my first day at work and the first caution I would give anyone in my position: Avoid comparing your experience with those of others’, you would disappoint yourself on your first day. I tended to look at the posts my acquaintances made on social media about their fancy internship, orientations and welcome programs and felt low at work, even though mine was not a bad experience. Later, I found that there were marketing interns in a separate office from SIBM-B and they went on to be the reasons for some very fond memories at HoH. HoH was essentially in its growth stage and had a traditional way of doing business with a healthy hesitation to embrace contemporary methods, due to a fair degree of centralisation of operations in the Head Office. That being said, I found that I kept expecting people to introduce themselves to me, getting shown around the projects and offices and maybe an orientation program. It took me a month to realise that most of my peers were compromising on some front or the other during their internships. My peers had things like rent, laundry, language barriers, food issues, difficult co-interns and a diminishing job satisfaction to deal with.
My project was essentially to design a KAIZEN Manual and implement the same in pilot areas for the engineering and non-engineering departments, but I was also given tasks alongside such as mapping employees’ competencies into Job Descriptions and document Standard Operating Procedures, recruitment, and conducting the yearly organisation-wide employee satisfaction surveys. Truth be told, I was satisfied with my project, but where I lacked in experience, I made up by being curious and obstinate. I understood that Domains had links with each other and I used concepts I studied in Operations Management and Strategy to substantiate recommendations. So, it’s a great idea to talk to seniors who have “been there, done that” or peers who are great at what you have to do if you did not fully grasp that concept back at b-school. Another major learning I had was that listening can teach you a lot, especially if you are the new kid on the block and you can be inconspicuous. It’s a great way to understand how the power balance and office dynamics work. For instance, I realised that the culture was such that the employees addressed each other as ”Sir/Madam”, but owing to the association one would develop over a decade of working together, a bond like that of a family exists. They have vocal arguments, help each other through the admission process of their children, get food for their colleagues when their spouses are not in the station and attend the funerals of their colleague’s parents. It made me understand that sometimes, I would have to take the first step by talking to my colleagues.
There were times, when I felt like I wanted something more challenging, since the two months of the internship is a tad more relaxed, compared to the b-school schedule, but this may be subjective. Hence, I took up an internationally recognised HR Certification program and exam, which would add value to my CV. The final three opinions I had regarding internship would be A) Your projects may sound fancy on paper but may not be very fascinating in practice, it really is up to you to dig deeper and learn what you can in an environment that is not your classroom. Finally, you are there to make something easier for your mentor, so try and be useful to him/her, not a necessary expenditure of his/her time B) Network with other corporates to have a backup in case you don’t get a PPO, or if you need any help from them. This also works if you are a member of a club, it becomes a source of live projects or guest lectures. If you have fellow students in the same city, meeting some of them with interests in the same area could help you get insights on taking a better call for yourself when it final placements arrive. C) Keep in mind that your juniors will be in your place next year, so have a sense of responsibility even if you’re tempted to do otherwise. The internship may change your mind about your domain, but do reason it out with someone in a position to guide you.
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Elenor Roosevelt
Note: The above experiences are the personal viewpoints of the author, they do not indicate recurrence in the following year and the experiences can vary depending on the individual, location and role.