I was very lucky and yet unlucky when I got my internship at Ford. Lucky because I had got it on April 17 which was a week before endsems and unlucky because I got pushed the entire year to this stage. Finally, I was delighted that I could get an internship in a great company like Ford. I was adamant to go only for a core intern from the beginning and being a mechanical engineering student, I was very excited when I learnt a leading automobile manufacturer was offering internship through PT cell. Although it was not offering any stipend or accommodation, I was not bothered by it because my aunt lived in Ahmedabad so it was a no loss no gain situation for me and I was sure that no better core company after this would be coming to offer internship. After signing the IAF, I got shortlisted for a telephonic interview. I prepared well for my 10 min interview as I was the first in line. To my surprise, it was only an HR interview and included more of logistical questions like where I will stay and description of how the work environment would be at the plant than the typical HR questions one could expect. I finally got selected along with two other students from our college.
LIFE and WORK during internship
We were placed at Ford’s largest assembly plant in Asia which was located in an industrial area in Sanand, 40 km away from Ahmedabad. There were interns from some other colleges as well. To my relief, company provided travel to and fro from plant to specific locations in Ahmedabad so travel was covered. Work hours were from 8:30 in the morning to 4:40 in the evening. Breakfast and lunch were also provided at the plant. Just like our mess, breakfast was better than lunch :p. Food breaks were fun as I spent time with my co-interns learning about their lives in other colleges and playing mini militia. We would together bitch about the work keeping a count of the number of days remaining till the next weekend even on Mondays. Also, intern was scheduled to last for exact two months.
My first day at work was a series of orientations about the safety norms, company’s history and working and finally ended with a virtual tour of the plant. I joined my department in plant after this. That is when I realised that this is an “assembly” plant i.e. no parts are manufactured here apart from the metallic body of the vehicle. 90% components of the vehicle were manufactured by suppliers and delivered here to accomplish just-in-time manufacturing. I was enamored by the size, the machines that were used and the sight of queue of cars moving on a conveyor belt.
I spent my first few days learning how the plant operates and what each stage of the line contributes to the vehicle. It took me days to fully understand this as the entire assembly line was 2.5 kms long!! I was mesmerized by level of management that was done here. You could see the body and engine of the car coming from the adjacent plants, miscellaneous parts from suppliers like the wires, tires, windshield etc. joining to form the vehicle with sync even though different car models entered randomly into the line. Yet another aspect was the tests they conducted to make sure that the vehicle falls under specification limits. All in all, I learnt a lot about operations of the industry and various design aspects which are considered before sending the vehicle to the market. (I even had a chance to witness a union strike of workers in the company demanding higher pay)
I was initially assigned the work of data collection in various quality check tests to estimate the operator variability and reproducibility in these experiments. Then I took up the major assembly and design issues occuring on the line leading to defects in vehicles. My role was to investigate the process to find the root cause of the problems and propose solutions to eliminate them. Since the internship was unpaid, it was upon me to extract as much information from people working there who were forthcoming (if you approached them) and continuously chase my project guide to assign me the next task.
TRAVEL around the place
As I mentioned above, the company also hired interns from other colleges, especially local ones. So my co-interns already knew the best places to visit near Ahmedabad. I went out to typical must go places in Ahmedabad on some weekends but couldn’t explore a large part of the city due to the heat in summer. Try to visit Mount Abu after the first rains, the landscape there becomes splendidly beautiful.
It is not aberrant for people to feel their interns to be boring and monotonous after some time. We are aware that we are learning a lot but feel it to be different from our expectations. The problem is that our expectations can be very high. At any new place the learning curve is always a sigmoid (please don’t hate me for this), so keeping a positive attitude can save the time spent there from becoming miserable.
Even after this, when I look back at the time spent here, I can clearly remember some zealous moments and interesting people. I had a great experience and a much needed break from studies and sitting idle at home/hostel watching movies.