Q. A few lines about yourself-your department, where all have you worked/interned before, what else do you like?
A. I am Nitish Goel, a senior undergrad at the Department of Chemical Engineering. My summer internship was with Wipro Enterprises Limited – Consumer Care Division at Baddi, Himachal Pradesh. Wipro owns Santoor and Yardley brands which have their line of soaps, deodorants, body lotions etc. I am fond of quizzing and lawn tennis.
Q. How did you choose the company you wanted to intern in? What were the main criteria?
A. The Department of Chemical Engineering only allows the students to undergo an internship in the core sector. Most of the companies that visit the campus for students of my department belong to the FMCG space. Thus, it was a natural choice to go for these companies.
The main criterion for me was to intern in a company which would help me gain exposure to the environment of a large scale manufacturing unit and the manner in which the things are managed. The work involved should be rewarding in the sense that it makes a difference to the company and not just something that remains in the form of a report and gathers dust lying around in cupboards.
Q. What sort of questions did the company ask you in the Interview? What all qualities do you think they were trying to test?
A. Since it was a core company, the focus was on to gauge the understanding of the basic concepts of chemical engineering mainly through the projects that had been listed on the CV. There were some questions regarding my interests, my background and the kind of work I would be interested in. There wasn’t anything too extraordinary that stood out in my interview. It was a pretty streamlined one with no real surprises as far as the questions were concerned.
Q. A brief description about the kind of work you did there?
A. I was given two projects – one in a Saponification plant and the other in a fatty acid and glycerine plant. I had to critically analyse the saponification plant for stepping up its productivity, determining if the installed equipment could handle the increased load. In the fatty acid and glycerine plant, I was required to quantify the distribution of heat load in the distillation section and ascertain the efficiency of the boilers and other equipment involved.
Q. How did you find the environment of the company and the work ethics?
A. The environment of the company was quite supportive. Everyone helped me out to the maximum possible extent. The employees were really serious and worked diligently. All my queries and doubts were listened to very patiently and I had considerable freedom in my approach to the problem.
Q. Is there anything that you didn’t like about the company?
A. As is the case with most of the industries, this one was also located in a pretty remote area. Thus, it doesn’t give you many options to spend your free time. Luckily for me, my home was around 40 kilometres away from the unit, therefore, I used to commute which took care of this problem at least. In the initial days, the heat was a bit unsettling but I got used to it over time.
Q. How do you think this internship has helped you in your “development”? Shed some light on what you have gained during the process?
A. The single most significant take away for me from this internship was that the world of books and theory is radically different from the real world. The theory helps but most of the times, you do not have the luxury of time of conduct a comprehensive analysis. One has to simplify the problem using some assumptions and come out with easily implementable solutions really quickly that mitigate the damage, if not fix it altogether. Although, as an intern, my job was to actually use theory in order to evaluate the equipment performance and then make recommendations. This is the biggest point of difference between working as an intern and working as an employee.
My work was core Chemical engineering stuff. I consulted almost every book I had come across in my various courses here in IIT. The most interesting aspect was finding out the values that go into the equation which provided me with a whole new insight into some simple equations which I used to take for granted while solving textbook problems. To see my calculations in sync with the real-time data on the shop floor was a source of great satisfaction for me.
Q. What are the suggestions you would like to give to students who might be interested in such an internship?
A. One needs to be really thorough conceptually, especially the things one is listing down on his/her CV. That’s pretty much these companies are looking for at this level. Good communication skills are essential in getting your opinions across in an organized manner which convinces the interviewer of your technical knowledge.
Q. One piece of advice that you would like to give to your juniors?
A. I will limit my advice in the light of my internship experience at an FMCG major. For students interested in making decent use of the courses they have done as a part of their curriculum in Mechanical/Chemical engineering and at the same time gain valuable management experience, the FMCG sector offers adequate opportunities if one is willing to overlook the remote locations and slightly difficult working conditions.
Q. What are some of the challenges that you faced?
A. Data acquisition was one of the challenges that I had to encounter. Typically, only the Research and Development facilities are mainly concerned with data analysis at every intermediate step of the process and as such, there are no arrangements in a scaled-up manufacturing facility to monitor the operating parameters at intermediate stages. Additionally, the plant had undergone a lot of changes from the time it had been commissioned in 2008, so the operating manual of the plant wasn’t too useful. Dimensions of the equipment had to be measured physically for accurate analysis which took up a lot of time in the initial stages.