Being one of the last articles of the Summer Blog Series by Insight, I happen to be weighed down by a considerable pressure to present a tolerable article, and I must begin with an unorthodox setting to capture your attention. So here I find myself on a 5-hour long journey with my family to Kathogodam, Uttarakhand in the penultimate weekend of what was a rather happening summer, trying to do justice to all the experiences this roller coaster ride has presented to me.
Hey! I’m Cherub Kapoor, and I’ve completed my second year in B. Tech. Mechanical Engineering (and am hardly enthusiastic to begin my third). I shall begin my account with a sunny afternoon in Anmol Gupta’s room, where he mentioned rather subtly in a conversation that the vacations were being extended a little less than 3 months. And almost instantaneously, I just knew that I had to make full use of them. Doing two interns was the first thing that came to my mind.
Planning the summers
Off the top of my head, I wanted to explore the non-core disciplines of finance, data analytics and consulting. Given the possibility of numerous permutations and combinations, I had to eliminate some variables. I knew I wouldn’t be able to go home if I happened to do two interns outstation, so I decided that I was to stay in Delhi with my family (and I also desperately wanted to get away from insti’s haphazard lifestyle for a while). Plus, I couldn’t apply through PT cell as they wouldn’t allow two interns.
Phew, so far, so good! Now to the tougher part. I wouldn’t hesitate to admit that I had to struggle while researching various profiles in different companies across fields. I scanned through companies and profiles coming through the PT Cell, read blogs and discussed with a number of people, often getting to hear “Do intern kyu karni hai bhai? Itne kam time mein kuch nahi seekh paayega.” (Why do you want to do two interns? You wouldn’t be able to learn much.). But I was headstrong. I concluded that a short and unstructured intern in a consulting profile may entail less involvement in projects and client exposure, which could pose a rather false representation of the domain. Finance and data analytics seemed like areas where I could get a holistic idea of what they stand for, develop basic field knowledge and/or technical skills and gauge my interest in them. The location choice was to pose as a tradeoff as well, for I was repeatedly questioned in a telephonic interview about my choice of leaving behind opportunities in the financial capital of Mumbai (I later learnt that he had made an opinion that I had a girlfriend in Delhi).
After deliberations over weeks and a long pursuit of connects, I finalised a 6 weeks internship in Edelweiss Delhi and a 4 weeks internship in Larsen and Toubro Infotech (or not? PS. Read on!).
EDELWEISS GLOBAL WEALTH MANAGEMENT, DELHI
Fast forward to my time at Edelweiss. The office is spread across three floors in Connaught Place as compared to three buildings as in Mumbai, and the work is significantly front-ended. I had been allocated to work in Global Wealth Management, which dealt with handling investments of Ultra High Net Worth Individuals and Family Offices. Keeping in mind that most of the technical research work was back in Mumbai, my takeaway checklist was simple:
1. Grasp as much knowledge about the different verticals in finance as possible and 2. Gauge whether I am more suited for a front-end or a back-end profile. A major part of my learning was from other interns, who came from various educational backgrounds – IIM, IIFL, IIT Kharagpur. and those studying Economics and Arts.
During the duration of my internship, I was involved in one major project and several miscellaneous tasks. My primary deliverable was to create a process note, a repository and a presentation on M&A Stake Sales, which is basically the process of diluting shareholding. I was to streamline a process that was still pretty unorganised and random, at least in Northern India. It involved interactions with cross-functional teams – Wealth Management, Capital Markets and Investment Banking.
Apart from this, I revamped their Investment Policy Statement (which is basically a questionnaire that financial services use for risk profiling of clients) and studied the Auto Ancillary industry to identify challenges and opportunities that aligned with business verticals in Edelweiss Group. I also assisted Relationship Managers in two meetings with Ultra High Net Worth Individuals, who were promoters of companies, and prospective clients for us. Interactions with the Broking team added on with reading materials and guidance, helped me understand markets.
I was lucky to be interning in the financial sector in times of huge eventualities (Election results, IL&FS and DHFL crisis, repo rate cut, budget, etc.), and I got to see the action on how they shape market sentiments, and vice versa.
Some general advice I’d like to give to anyone interning anywhere. It’s really important to get to know and interact with everyone, especially your co-interns and your mentor. I feel that one should try and live in the shoes of an employee there. Talk to everyone about how they’re finding the work, why they chose this line, understand their life stories, and build contacts. Attend their video conferences and training programmes, go along with them to meet clients (if it applies), attend their farewell parties or go engage in office coordinated sports events (in my case, there were cricket matches). Basically, in my opinion, an internship involves coming out of your comfort zone and making the most of it, while adding value to the company.
It’s hardly been an hour, and they’ve served three meals on the train. No wonder people like blogging during transit! Mom said beta khana kha le thanda ho raha hai (have food as it’s getting cold), so will come back soon with an interesting twist to the tale.
INDIAN YOUTH DELEGATION TO CHINA
During the last week of my internship at Edelweiss, I received an email from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports seeking my confirmation for a 9-day 200-member delegation. Every year, students across IITs, IIMs, AIIMS, NITs, and other established colleges, youth organisations such as NSS and NYKS, and nominees from several NGOs throughout the country represent India as Youth Ambassadors to a number of countries with whom the Ministry has an MoU. I learnt about this from a mail on GPO (Now Webmail :p). The selection procedure was pretty straightforward – it involved just one form with some SOP questions to gauge one’s interest and involvement in social projects (some other institutions had rigorous interviews as well).
Although we had been informed earlier in the semester that we had been nominated, we had no clue about what, how and when (we got to know about the country we were visiting one week before we left). So while there was no time to be taken by surprise, I was vigorously juggling between deadlines and presentations at Edelweiss and paperwork and documentation submissions to the ministry. My second intern at Larsen and Toubro Infotech had begun, and after convincing my mentor on the first day of my internship, we settled on taking a week off for this and extending the internship a bit after. More details in the next section.
In China, we travelled across the cities of Beijing, Dunhuang and Lanzhou, where we visited universities, institutions, companies, youth groups and places of cultural and historical importance, engaging in discussions and deliberations with respective authorities and students at each place. The exchange programme was co-coordinated by All China Youth Federation and Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India.
Imagine being put into a fully funded educative fun schedule with 170 random people and a significant amount of freedom to do whatever you want in the free time. We roamed around the cities, tasted weird meat, learnt skateboarding, sang Hindi songs at the top of our voices with some Chinese street band, bargained using translating apps, had pillow fights with herb and sand-filled pillows and did Naagin dance with some enthusiastic uncle at our farewell ceremony. Moreover, I got some time on my hands to make a travel journal (something that I’ve wanted to do since forever), explore famous Chinese music and try my hand at photography. I made some lifelong friends and memories, but most importantly, I found myself (that’s so deep I love it). I made some Chinese friends who’re teaching me Mandarin on WeChat (Ni hao!). Those 9 days were so memorable I didn’t feel like coming back, but all good things have to end. Oh my god, this trip has made me so philosophical. But yeah, if you’re interested in such opportunities, do get involved in projects and organisations with social implications at an early stage.
LARSEN AND TOUBRO INFOTECH (LTI), VAISHALI
LTI is a global IT solutions and services company. The Income Tax Department (ITD) of India has outsourced its data analytics to LTI. This not only means that they handle one of the largest datasets in the country, but also that they have a pretty advanced analytics team and state-of-the-art techniques. The staff consists of data scientists, functional income tax officers, and consultants. My mentor is an economist, who’s a consultant at EY and is coordinating things between LTI and ITD, which allows me to get a flavor of both worlds. During the first week, I was to go through some extensive material prepared by the training and onboarding team of the company.
After a truly amazing week in China, I half-heartedly resumed office. As a couple of dull and sleepy days passed, I had to be back on track as I didn’t have much time left. Thankfully, another intern joined, and we both were allotted a really interesting project – to suggest a method and model for predicting incomes of individual taxpayers based on previous returns and legitimate third-party sources. The project in itself is complicated and demands time. We’ve spent time getting acquainted with income tax terms and ITR forms, implementing regressions on varied datasets, reading up present research in this area all over the world and are now in the process of exploring various models in analytics to best suit our purpose. Apart from this we’re working on a project on sentiment analysis, which is basically crawling through news articles written about the Income Tax Department and categorising them into positive, neutral and negative in order to gauge the opinion of the public. They’ve also involved us to suggest possible changes in their chatbot and work on revenue forecasting, which I will be doing in the next week. All in all, even such a short period has proven to be very rewarding, and I simply couldn’t have asked for more.
Apart from the exchange programme, I happened to take several religious escapades and travelled to Vaishno Devi in Karta, Golden Temple in Amritsar, several temples in Kathgodam and Amora, Rishikesh, Nainital and Bhimtal with family and family friends on several weekends. I also spent a couple of days at my sister’s place in Bangalore. In the other times, I explored Delhi and nearby areas with co-interns and friends. Travel, other than posing as an opportunity to explore new ideas and build relationships, also allows me to read (and now even blog :p) during transit.
All I’d like to advise is to first understand what would give you the most happiness, and then follow it without looking back. Don’t try to fit yourself into the insti norms or trends. Sure, you’ll face times when you’d want to give up, but in the end, it’s simply satisfying. Before I say that make your life a collection of such travel diaries, I’d like to bid adieu, and hope that you had fun reading this and had something to learn from this.