Saturday, January 06, 2007

My intern story

Let me get back to the posts I promised earlier, how I got an intern, how it was non technical and how I became a binder.

As soon as the first announcement regarding internship was put up, I busied myself, trying to get fundaes from seniors regarding various interns and how to crack the interviews. It was only then did I write my resume for the first time ever. Downloaded the Insti format, the one with the table, took out my grade card and listed all the courses faithfully. It became some 4 page resume with large spaces, but I didn’t know then that it was arbit. I made extensive preparation for the first interview, which was by Reliance. I didn’t even know there is something called a shortlist, and went on to buy a dress and a pair of shoes two days ahead of the first interview.

The day finally arrived, and I felt pained to bunk classes for the interview. After the first class, I came back to my room to dress up formally and went to the placement office. Instead of the interview, there was a pre-placement talk for the seniors and we were asked to attend it. The interview was in the afternoon and a shortlist has been put up after the pre-placement talk. Some ten of us have been short-listed on the basis of CG and the interview was a mere formality. Just before the interview, I had plans of dropping out, hoping to make it to ITC. Timely intervention by a good friend of mine saved me, who explained me how difficult it was to make it to ITC. Two months later, ITC came for intern recruitment and only then did I come to know the level of difficulty involved. The interview with Reliance went on smoothly and I was selected, right in August 2005 for my intern in May 2006.

This may have given me peace of mind avoiding all the trouble my friends experienced in finding an intern, but only during the placements this year did I realize that I lost something with that early selection. I had no fundaes about a Group Discussion, nor was I used to interviews. [And as luck would have it, the people who conducted mock technical interview for me this year were also from Reliance.] And that lack of experience clearly showed up during interviews this year, all my GDs cupped.

Coming back to the intern story, the projects were assigned somewhere in March 2006, and were mostly based on company requirements. They weren’t core mechanical for they had nothing to do with Design or Technology. Instead they dealt with operations related problems of the company and I chose one related to Maintenance Management.

I reached Surat on 13th May 2006. We had a day to familiarize ourselves with the company, where we were explained about conducting ourselves in a petrochemical complex. [I have already written about my plight with the food in Surat, here.] The first two weeks slid away, without me figuring out how to go about with the project. And I knew nothing about Maintenance. So I started studying about maintenance management from the material available there, and read a few books on six sigma and lean production systems too. My mentor asked for a plan to be chalked out on how I was going to do my project, but wasn’t satisfied with my first plan. Fortunately, I found one employee there who gave me an excellent idea to carry out my project- A survey. The only thing he said was “Do it a consultant’s way!” I caught up his idea and quickly proceeded with a plan. Read various maintenance management programs and made a questionnaire.

The hardest task was getting it answered. Most managers took it as an intrusion into their authority and felt that I was cross examining them. One was even rude to me. [Here is the account.] Some delayed it indefinitely, while others wanted me to sit with them to get the thing done. There were a few good managers, who appreciated my idea and made sincere efforts in filling up the questionnaire. It took two weeks for the questionnaires to be filled up. I made a presentation and my mentor was extremely pleased. The final presentation to the management went well, despite it being the last one, after six hours of presentations by my friends. My final report was two books of 29 and 52 pages each, one for RIL and one for my Insti.

On the last day, I got the report printed from my co-mentor’s brand new colour printer. To get it bound was a different story altogether. Only the documentation centre has a binding facility, and the employee there told me plainly that he was only going to show me how to punch holes for a few sheets. I had to do the punching myself for the rest of them, put the sheets together and then use a comb binding strip. As it always happens with me, there was a correction in the report that I made for my Insti and my mentor corrected it. The writing on the printed paper looked odd, and I wanted to change the sheet. So I went back to my computer, made the correction in the page printed it and went back to the documentation centre to re-bind it. I had to be careful to see that the page was properly punched and that the alignment was right. I pulled out the already bound report and switched pages with a sense of satisfaction. Finally towards the evening, Sardie, the IITD friend of mine wanted me to help him in binding his report. He had some other work to be done and I had to bind his report too. This is how I became a BINDER. I learnt spiral and comb binding. This definitely would have been one of my options for self employment, hadn’t I been placed.

That night, at 1 pm on 15th July 2006, I took a train to Mumbai, amidst the tense atmosphere in Surat. I was supposed to take a flight to Hyderabad the next day evening from Mumbai. I missed it, and that is the story to come next.

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