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Jay Dedhia is a 3rd year Undergraduate pursuing a B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering.
I had been putting off writing this piece for too long now, but for now, let work take the back seat. As far as my work is concerned, I’d admit that the scope of the project is vast. There is no set path to a solution. You have to try, fail, try again, and fail again in a loop until you have decent results. It’s not easy, and that’s why. Whoa! Seems like I’ve jumped too far ahead; let me start from the beginning.
Disclaimer: In a vast and varied company such as ITC, the experience can vary from person to person, depending on the location, kind of project, division, guide ( 😛 I did get a great one!) etc. So take what’s to follow with a pinch of salt. It could be way better, or way worse than what is described below.
Prep and Selection:
Buzzwords like ‘Awesome Stipend’, ‘Live Project’, ‘Part core-part non-core’, ‘High responsibility and expectations’ did float around for the three major FMCGs (ITC, HUL and P&G) when day 1 of the internship season was around the corner. I’ve got to admit that these were enough to get me excited, and in hindsight, at least in the case of ITC, they are all true. Talking to some seniors had made me certain that an FMCG intern was what I wanted. I had also put in a decent amount of time into reviewing and improving into my resume. Learning that a brush up of core subjects was recommended for the interviews, I did just that. I’d say the efforts I put into both were slightly overkill but I had no way to know then. The selection process is – Resume shortlisting – GD – Interview 1 – Interview 2. What really helped me was learning about the company values and history before the interviews and taking tips from seniors regarding the GD. Make sure you have checked both of these before the D-day. There is really no way to know how your interviews are going, the most important thing is to be confident. Always think before blurting and don’t just bluff. In my case, the first interview was technical, testing my basic intuitive knowledge and ideas of mechanical engineering (none of the prep really helped) and a grilling on the projects I had done. The second one was completely an HR interview (though this was not the case for some other interns who had technical questions asked in both interviews). All in all, it was a great feeling to know you are free from the intern hassle on day 1!
After the selection comes the fun – for 3 days. We were called for a training/induction to one of ITC’s 5-star hotels in Bangalore (all expenses paid!). Here, we were taught how to approach the typical problem statements in the industry, well punctuated by awesome snack breaks. All in all, even with the amount of information that was disseminated, the day did not seem to stretch, and it ended with a fun dinner party. These 3 days came as a welcome break into our everyday IIT life, bringing the opportunity to learn something new and most importantly, to find great friends in your co-interns from other institutes!
Work! Work! Work!
ITC makes a deliberate effort to map your project to the kind of profile you’ve built and the kind of work you’ve already done. Given the projects I have done in IIT, ITC thought it best to hand me a core RnD type project based in their atta factories on the outskirts of Delhi.
I have an AC room with a TV and WiFi all to myself in a decent guesthouse in Delhi about half an hour from the plant. The company cab takes care of my pick-up and drop. The timings are flexible. The guesthouse is close to a metro station, so it’s very easy to head out into the Capital. It’s all convenient.
A good chunk of the project involved collection of data to be used to build hypotheses for the project or later verify them. This meant spending hours on end inside the plant, interacting with the workers, developing a comfort level with them and bottom line, getting the intended work done. This was not always easy. Getting my hands dirty and learning the nitty gritty of the running of a plant (on both, a technical and a people level) has probably been one of the most important takeaways of this project. A cautionary note for those who want to do a perfectly white-collar job – this might not be for you. It’s amazing how spending more and more time in the plant tends to teach you subtler and subtler things that you missed on your previous visits, and that is what makes it so important. I can surely say that quite a few of my clothes , as expected, are starched from the atta they picked up in the plant!
ITC doesn’t shy away from sending you places either. In order to get a better understanding of my project, aside from my plant, I travelled to neighbouring plants in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. I was even flown to the Ahmedabad plant for a week for some experiments that could be done only there!
All of this work eventually leads to proposing of certain solutions to the initial problem, and it is heartening to see that your proposals are taken seriously, extensively debated on and refined to the point that they can be actually implemented at least on a pilot level (and maybe eventually at the plant level if all goes well). That’s where I am at this point – refining my proposal, satisfied in the knowledge that a pilot level implementation is already on its way.
P.S. I know I’ve skipped the part where I speak about how great Delhi is, and how there is so much to experience and see, and how awesome the weekends are. Well, my weekends were pretty much lazy (headed out into Delhi only thrice). The food’s great though!