Firstly, congratulations on completing your internship successfully. Could you tell us how you applied and were selected? Could you also briefly tell us about the selection procedure and criteria?
I applied through Tnp, when the intern season starts in August, during my third year of studies. There were basically 4 rounds of elimination, first they shortlisted people on the basis of their CVs, they look for balanced CVs with significant extra-curricular exposure. This is followed by a group discussion on any contemporary issue. This will be followed by a technical interview, where your core concepts will be tested. They will question you on your projects and some relevant core courses and test your problem solving skills.
Finally, there will be an HR round where they will test your management and presentation skills and try to gauge if you are a good fit in the company as they see you as their future employees. You should have at least one major achievement after JEE to talk about.
Why did you pursue an internship in your core field? What fuelled your interest?
At the end of second year, I was clueless about what I wanted to do in long run, as I was interested in both technical and managerial fields. After asking some seniors about what opportunities could I have to do the same, I was told that FMCG companies offer a good balance of technical and managerial learning w.r.t. industry. Plus I wanted to see how a real supply chain works. I hence decided to give ITC a shot.
How did you prepare yourself for the interviews/selection procedures and how well equipped were you with requirements demanded from an intern?
I talked to a few seniors who have already interned in an FMCG company, about what do they ask in the interviews and what are their expectations. I made myself thorough with the projects that I did and brushed up core concepts a little.
I think the institute prepared me well for the internship and anyways most of the things that are used during the course of the internship are to be learned afresh. Analytical skills, basic core concepts and ability to learn things fast were the pre-requisites.
Could you tell us about the company where you interned, the culture and work ethic in the office there and what sort of work did you have to do?
ITC is an ideal FMCG company with strong values and professionality. I interned at their Saharanpur factory. The people there were very supportive and things got done pretty fast. For example, if I wanted to get some equipment at the factory, I just need to get a small permission from the production manager over email, to get it done in the least amount of time. The amount of responsibility you are given during your internship is immense, and if they find your approach to be correct, they will do whatever you want with respect to your project. My work was not exactly core mechanical R&D or design type, but required mostly statistical analysis and little knowledge of thermodynamics & heat transfer concepts. My work involved finding functional relationship between factory and product parameters using statistical analysis, verify it and suggest ways to further reduce the tolerances for outgoing specifications. A lot of data collection and measurements were involved.
Over and above this, you get quite equipped with your presentation skills and report writing.
What all skills were required in your specific internship? Did you acquire those from your courses or did you have to put in extra efforts?
While basic analytical skills are required, that we acquire through courses, but many things have to be learned afresh. For example the statistical analysis that I did there, had to be learnt afresh by me, as it was significantly broader, application based and different from what we learn in our courses. Apart from this, a command of excel is required and I faced a lot of problems with that initially.
Describe a regular day there as an intern compared to how the weekends were or any other holiday? How did you spend free time, if any? Could you tell us any fond memories you have made or anything you want to forget about?
For the initial 20-25 days, it was okay. I used to go at around 10 and come back by 7-8pm. Since my place of residence was just beside the factory, I did not spent extra time on conveyance. However after the mid-term review, when I was told that what I have done until that point is of little significance, I have to put in extra hours after that till the end of my internship, to complete my project. Since it was a six day week for me(sixth day being half day), I usually spent major part of my weekends on some nice tight sleep. I did manage to go to some nearby tourist spots, maybe twice only. I usually used to rest or go to local dhabas for awesome food with co-interns.
Yes I made some very good and some not too good memories. The shop floor people see you with a lot of hope and I learnt a lot about the city and ITC culture from them. The managers treat you as employees and we used to chit chat during lunches and free time. The mid term review period was however a nightmare for me as the feeling was as if all my work that I did for 1 month was being tossed over.
Do you have any suggestions for your juniors? Any pitfall you’d like to warn them about during the application process or any skill they should spend time on developing, which could be useful later?
I would say that if you are really interested in mechanical engineering, start doing some projects from the second year itself as you learn a lot more from them as compared to the courses and they have no relationship with the core knowledge that you acquire through courses. Secondly it is good to have some industrial exposure, I would advice to spend some time in industry as internships, as it will only broaden your perspectives.
Over and above the coursework and projects, some time should be spent on developing presentation and soft skills, through relevant clubs at IIT or other ways. Believe me, the way you present is almost equally important to what you do, in industry at least.