“Udne waale panchhi pedo se pyaar nahi karte”
Hi there, swimmers (more on this later), I’m Piyush Genwa, a fourth-year B.Tech. student from the Department of Electrical Engineering. I come from the mellow city of Jodhpur (I get both flamed and appreciated for it). I will try to be as upfront as possible in this “blog.” Being in IITB has always been like a level of Hill Climb Racing. It took me a whole year to get accustomed to the IITB norms and culture (the finish line was when I gave in and started using “insti lingo”). Of course, the more important part was that I found a good bunch of friends and realised that I was supposed to have my own journey regardless of my peers.
I took up many PORs, the beginning of which was advice from my ISMP mentor and a couple of other seniors. But I believe that the most important one of the positions was working for E-Cell. I started engaging myself more and more into startup culture and found the same very exciting.
I think there are two very integral parts of this blog that I would like you to go through, especially if you feel that you could relate to the first paragraph of my blog. I imagine the internship season at IIT Bombay to be a swimming pool. This, however, is with a twist that your lane is of a different length than the others. It is essential to note that if you spend time looking at other people swimming, you will lose time in your lane. There is also a technical penalty for going in someone else’s lane.
The entire internship season went by, with my total count of IAF applications reaching above 70. I do not nearly consider myself an ideal example for the internship season. But I guess not all of us are ideal. Months passed by with me giving a couple of interviews and no good news. Then came March, and I got to know through a senior about the opportunity at Aurum Ventures (Aurum Proptech Studio, to be more precise). I got on a call to find myself engaged in a conversation with my recruiter. The real estate tech industry was something new to me, and in the duration of the interview, I was trying to explore the potential in the industry and my personal growth if I were to work at Aurum.
As stated before, my interest in startups and startup culture increased with time, and I thought this internship would be a perfect opportunity to see how well I understand it and how much more I can delve into it. The interview process was not very complicated. The first round was more of a conversation about how technology is changing the real estate industry and what the scenario is like in India; the second round being an HR interview, both of which I had sufficiently prepared for.
For the initial two months, I was involved with the incubation team, profiling and meeting student startups from various IITs, NITs and B-Schools. This was the WFH phase of my internship. There were 1-2 meetings in a week where we would discuss updates and stay in touch. However, the con part of WFH started becoming very evident. It became difficult to collaborate effectively, and with the second wave of COVID hitting, my enthusiasm fell to a new low. I was myself infected in May.
Thankfully, it was a mild case, and I could recover soon. I then decided that with God’s gift of COVID immunity, I should step out and work from the Aurum campus for the remaining duration of my internship.
It turns out this was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The offline experience of an internship is something that a majority of my batchmates had missed, and I find myself lucky that I was able to have a proper in-office internship for the remainder of my tenure at Aurum.
Humans are social animals. In the last two years, the social part of our life has been diminished to a certain extent. Being in the office made me realise how important it is to form human relationships with people instead of interacting with a couple thousand pixels on a screen. The people at Aurum were extremely welcoming, and I gelled with them at a rapid pace. There is no set hierarchical structure in the company. You could take up as much work as you want and have the opportunity to interact with any department you wish to.
While one-third of my summer was a slow Scorcese flick, the latter part certainly had the Marvel pace to it. The months of June and July were jam-packed with action, with my role shifting from incubation to the investment team. I was constantly involved in profiling, meeting and evaluating companies in Proptech. The learning I had both on professional and personal fronts cannot really be quantised. Working so closely with the top management, including the company CEO, every meeting, however short, was a learning experience.
“Work hard, party harder” was another phrase that I stood by during my internship with Aurum. I made some close friends in the office, and due to them, I could hardly keep track of how swiftly the 10 hour day went. I learned a lot about Real Estate as a sector and was able to map the tech part of it really well. Meeting more than 80 companies gave me unparalleled depth in the proptech domain. I saw negotiations happening, transactions consummating, and business plans being analysed; and I was happy that I had a significant part to play in it all.
I was involved apart from my regular work in a thing called Aurum Network Intelligence (ANI). This was a team of 5-6 people whose sole purpose was to make improvements to the organisation. Our ANI team was involved in arranging informal events, holding training sessions and introducing a welcome kit for all the employees.
I can certify that not a single day of my internship was “boring.” You can make such a claim when you have both a professional and a personal connection to your workplace. I consider myself fortunate to be in the place I am, both as an employee and as a person.
To everyone taking part in the swimming race called the internship season, my 2 cents would be to value your skillset, keep learning and, most importantly, value yourself as a person. You should have the confidence that you can make a valuable addition to an organisation. It goes without saying if you at any point in time need advice or help of any sort, feel very free to reach out.
And remember, keep swimming.