Setting the blow to one’s self-worth aside, much of my disregard/contempt for the internship process was because of the headlong hankering I saw in my peers for securing one as soon as possible in an imposing firm offering the most dough. I can go on listing other seditious factors, romanticizing my insurgence and indolence, but that is another Insight blog post for some other time. To be fair and honest, I didn’t devote myself to the process much at all. Some personal stuff also needed sorting out, so I didn’t pay heed to sign IAFs after October. During March I got anxious and started looking for a core Internship outside, I found out about Indian Oil through a friend and got my approval letter in the first week of April. Indian Oil offered HR/marketing/some other non-core roles but didn’t offer a Core Internship through the PT cell of our institute. The way to apply is mentioned at the end of this post.
Why I was keen on doing a core Intern
I’ve had a skeptical attitude towards popular Insti beliefs but one in particular always seemed accurate to me.
Core is belittled and undervalued. People subconsciously draw parallels between their distaste to what is taught in class to how it actually must feel like working. But I realized that many of my assumptions were unfounded inherited knowledge. Thinking that my beliefs had been corrupted by my milieu, I figured let’s give core a chance. For a change, I was looking forward to work using the knowledge I had spent time studying all these years. If summer didn’t go well, at least I’d know for sure whether I would consider core or not.
My Project at Grease Plant, Vashi
I worked at Indian Oil’s Grease manufacturing plant in Vashi. It’s the only plant throughout the country to comply with the entire country’s demands of grease. What started with a brief revision of the saponification reaction with my supervisor, ended with SolidWorks models and pressure head calculations among other things. I had some exposure to chemical engineering jargon and basics as well. As for my project, I was assigned a problem and was then provided the liberty to delve into anything I found interesting, which was great. The problem was to assuage a bottleneck in their manufacturing process. The cooling process of a continuously stirred jacketed vessel was taking long hours. I had to suggest some rectification or resolution.
This might sound excessive and exaggerated but the refreshing stimulation I felt for solving a problem I knew had a solution somewhere in everything I’d learned, brought me back to what it felt like solving problems during the JEE days. Maybe it was the practicality of it all ( Solving a real-life pressing problem ) or witnessing the theory unfold in front of me, but I felt outraged at the uninspiring humdrum lectures we receive in class when we looked at research papers and lecture slides looking for answers to some questions. I had learned about boilers, compressors, heat exchangers and cooling towers but seeing them operate firsthand was different. Unlike how learning feels like, this was tangible and intuitive. These components had a purpose to serve. It somehow made me an active eager learner for the duration of the summer.
Working at a Plant
I found the plant visits to be fun and fascinating but sometimes equally exhausting (mainly because of the heat). The Bombay May-June weather didn’t help. The workers and engineers of the plant were helpful and ready to answer all our doubts and queries. I hadn’t been on an industrial visit before, so this was a novel experience for me. I used to marvel at how intricately designed and well thought out the blueprint must be to build such a plant. The canteen food was like our mess food, so I didn’t indulge in it beyond a day or two. And the daily travelling from Hostel 8 to the site in autos and locals (I found this to be the most reliable and fast way of transportation. Had to change Central line to Trans Harbour Line.) was vexing, but I had found amicable company in my peers there and formed a sociable bond by sharing experiences of our different colleges. So I didn’t realize how fast the 6 weeks of my internship went by. Plus we had shorter working hours (9am-3pm).
Things to consider
Not to discourage anyone but I want to be real and not fabricate an advertisement for the company I trained with, mentioning what a “lucrative” career Core Engineering is, how the Oil industry is thriving, what-all incentives you’d receive pursuing a career in it. Anything described as a fool’s paradise never turns out to be one. An industrial job can definitely feel run-off-the-mill and lackluster to some, considering some repetitive menial requirements. But that is until after you grasp and learn everything there is to know about it. It’s physically demanding (plant visits and working in the field) sometimes, compared to sitting all day in AC offices in consulting firms. But the work-life balance here is a definitive plus for someone like me personally who wants to pursue something beyond core and non-core in the future.
PS: You really feel the worthiness of the IIT tag when you’re working with people from different colleges beyond just people acknowledging it. You see a contrast in problem-solving approaches, perspectives, and progressiveness.
Application Process –
(I had a rather tough time figuring this out :P)
Your HoD has to write a request letter to IOCL for allowing you to train at its Haldia and Vadodara refineries or its Vashi Grease Plant. Type the letter yourself and get it signed by your HoD through your Dept. Office. The letter has to be addressed to Mr. HS Rai, Chief Manager (HRD), IndianOil Corporate Office, 3079/3, JB Tito Marg, Sadiq Nagar, New Delhi – 110 049, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can mail the letter along with a Non-Objection Certificate (Which you can acquire by submitting the filled UG-9 form to the academic office) mentioning the duration of your internship (4/6/8 weeks). The acceptance of your request/offer letter takes about 20-30 days, so apply well ahead in time.
I’d recommend people to apply during their sophomore year(March) for a month-long training. What you get out of the intern is really up to you. It’s not strictly supervised so you can waste all the time you have there and copy a past year report and get off easily, but there is ample opportunity to learn, if only you have the motivation to do so.