Hi, I hope this finds you in good health. I am a Third (Fourth?) year Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate. I am one of those people you won’t notice a lot in the classes, but I really enjoy the field of engineering I am in. I like hands-on work in the projects I do in workshops and labs a lot (to the contrary, I find it quite difficult to practice for written quizzes). I have been an Activity Associate at NSS previously, and I am a member of the Student Satellite Project (IITB SSP) (which is where I have spent most of my Insti life so far 😊). I enjoy a lot of short-lived hobbies and this lockdown period has been quite fun for me.
Before it did happen, Internships this year didn’t seem quite possible logistically, especially core industry interns. I was quite surprised, to say the least, at how well it turned out. I interned at Lear Corporation this summer (worked from home) and the following is what I learned through the process.
The Selection Process
I have previously caught myself thinking a lot about how anything and everything I do in courses and projects would play a role in internships and placements, which is very difficult to shed and not a particularly helpful habit. Nonetheless, I was still more than confused at the onset of the internship season. I had spent my second-year summers in the institute with SSP so it was my first time writing down my resume seriously. It’s one of the first skills from the whole process to describe all your previous work and skill set in a one-page resume. I didn’t have a company of choice in my mind but was looking forward to getting to work either in one of the FMCG companies or a core mech company. However, I remained open to any new opportunity and signed most IAFs.
The shortlisting process can be quite humbling if one is not prepared mentally, which was what happened to me. I will come back to this part towards the end of the piece.
Lear Corporation was the first company I got shortlisted in. About Lear Corporation, it is a global automotive technology leader in Seating and E-Systems. This was the first time it had come to IITB for internships so there was not much we could guess about the process before the PPT which was scheduled right before the interviews. One day prior to the interview, I read a lot about the company and prepared by going through my previous projects. I think what works best to speak confidently in an interview is having your resume thorough and having a convincing case story for yourself. I remember speaking about my learnings from a recently done project and getting the interviewing panel to agree that they do experience the same sometimes. It gave me a feeling of the interview going well. But… I didn’t get selected, and the cycle of signing up more IAFs continued. It was early September, and quite obviously, weariness had kicked in. But that’s where having a support system of friends and family helps the most.
Then when I wasn’t really expecting it, the extended selections list came in and I was through (with a sigh of relief).
Preparation/Internship Period/ WFH experience
After the Sem broke-down midway, I was not sure how the internship would happen, but I still had an idea of the list of projects that were previously discussed for the internship. So, I picked some basic guides to the automotive seating industry to get familiar with terms and the development-testing process. Although there wasn’t an exact overlap of what I read and what I did in the internship, I did learn a few things that I later implemented in a different project.
I was parallelly looking for new opportunities through LinkedIn in apprehension of the internship program getting canceled. However, I was quite happy to learn that Lear’s management restructured the whole program to suit the work from home experience and came up with a new set of projects. On our first day, we had an introductory session with all the project mentors and the HR team with a couple of motivational speeches and a walkthrough of the program. There were people from IIT Madras, KGP, and a couple of management schools. We had a couple of HR team designed activities just like actual internship programs (and IITB totally rocked :D).
The project partner I worked with – Akshay Choudhary – is an old and close friend from my city, a wingie, and had already been a part of my first-year ITSP team. That meant we had an easy time communicating throughout the project. The project I worked on required us to model the kinematics and dynamics of a seat mechanism and develop an Excel-based tool to compute a couple of performance parameters. This required us to conduct a brief literature survey, develop an integration tool, and basically debug the whole thing for a couple of weeks. Later, we were supposed to compare our results with standard software. The most interesting part, I would say, were the discussions with our project mentors for understanding how the mechanism worked and then coming up with a dynamics model that could represent the scenario well. WFH means you can give your morning updates over breakfast. We would have meetings every alternate day at 10 Am, discussing the progress and taking directions and suggestions. That allowed us to learn a good amount about a couple of other projects too. One of the things I felt we might miss out on, was getting to know about the working methods used in the company at Pune; so I made sure to keep asking questions about the testing and design processes other than what we were doing. Sometimes this meant having a late-night call, but that’s where WFH helps with its flexible timings. A couple of logistical problems still existed, like there were delays due to the inability to share protected data on remote systems and that meant we needed people at the company to get some data, which was a good exercise in communicating exact needs. I still find communicating well over an audio-only meeting quite difficult, and I keep running into unending monologues, which is why I started to list down briefly all I want to convey before the call.
One of the serious challenges we worked with was a major update in the problem statement, one week before the final presentation. However, with a couple of all-nighters, we did solve all the issues at hand, and that is what made the whole experience worthwhile. The final PPTs were quite an exercise, and we got to learn a lot about limiting presentations to the essential but at the same time not underselling the progress made.
A few learnings
Coming back to the shortlisting process, I can differentiate some important learnings:
- Not getting into the futile game of tying cause and effect in a process with so many variables and second-guessing the worth of your own resume. It is quite difficult to say why someone does or does not get selected in a shortlist, and this can keep happening for quite a long time. But eventually, everyone does get to a reasonable result. I still don’t know why I couldn’t get shortlisted for around 15 companies before I finally did. One of my seniors said it quite straight at a similar occasion – to not wallow in self-pity (yeah! quite harsh but true). Having an estimate of where you want to land is important in the process, but it’s okay to keep figuring things out along the way.
- Getting out of one’s head is important in such humbling times. To sum this up – “A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts, so he loses touch and lives in illusions – comforting or discomforting.” – Someone, very wise.
- The best way to help yourself is by helping others. I am extremely thankful to a lot of people for helping me out of the slump I was getting into towards late August. My wing vaale friends would force me out of sitting in my room, and people at my tech team were a great support group (I owe a lot of treats 😁). Hence, I find it utterly important to do the same, and I guess that is what makes the student community so good here.
- For having a good resume – it’s important to do things you are excited by working on. I felt people out there aren’t in search of a specific industry skill more than they are in search of how enthusiastically you have contributed to and developed personally with what you are working for.
- One final thing – it felt important to have people helping you who are not going through the same process. Seniors were extremely helpful with their experience while friends from the junior batch could give me company where I could get away from the tense minds having the same thoughts as mine.
Hoping that this will help at least some of the readers and that you would reach out for any help needed. Attaching below the closing meme, I added to my final presentation at the internship.