The only time you should ever look back is to see how far you’ve come. Sunmeet is pursuing Computer science engineering and shares his wonderful experience of internship days.
This summer I got selected for an internship at Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) and it is special for me as it was a dream come true!! I feel every part of my exhilarating journey had a kind of peculiarity in it; so I would be narrating my story right from the application submission part to the end, sharing my whole package of experiences and for me- it’s magic!
After having an experience of 15+ Marketing internships and that too from companies like OLX, P&G and Askme in less than 2 years, I knew what it takes and how much diligence is required to bag a good summer internship in a reputed company. I had a fair idea of a considerable number of companies’ internship procedure so yes, I started off much early to get a good summer internship for this year.
The search started off with sending application to companies like Intel, General Electric, Toshiba and Govt. offices like Planning Commission and DRDO. My interests and affluence over entrepreneurship and startups persuaded me to apply for internships in Zomato, Flipkart, Snapdeal and Letsintern. Least to my expectations, I was getting unfavourable replies. Zomato wasn’t looking for interns then and my application was rejected at GE, Intel and Toshiba. Other HRs didn’t even reply to my application.
Being an engineering student, this time I was looking for a tech role and I had experience of only marketing profile over last 2 years of college. May be this was the reason, I wasn’t getting much affirmative replies from these brands but I didn’t lose hope. I was still searching for internships at best of the companies and Govt. offices.
One night while hunting for internships, I got a Facebook notification called “Tanay Talesra posted in EduInfo”. I was a member of group called EduInfo where latest internships and scholarships are posted regularly. I checked that notification and it was for internships currently available at TIFAC.
I had no clue what TIFAC was, where it is and how does it work. I opened up the subsequent link and studied briefly about TIFAC through their site. I checked projects available for internships and what was the last day to apply for them. Guess what, last day was 23rd March’15. It was already 11:30pm and I had only half hour to file up for this internship. Out of 14 projects, 5 were for Computer Science students and I hadn’t even heard a single thing about the topics such as Horizon Scanning and Brain Computer Interface. But I had conviction to apply for it. So, then, I had to answer same questionnaire 5 times with different answers for 5 different projects in 30 minutes.
I called up one of my best friends to inform her about this internship opening and asked her to apply for this ASAP. As she also had no idea about TIFAC, she was much reluctant to apply for this. But yes, I was able to convince her for this. In 30 minutes, I could only apply for 4 projects out of 5 as it was already 12. My friend’s reluctance took over her and she applied for 2/5 projects. Next day, I received a mail from TIFAC asking for few more questions regarding respective projects I had applied for and if I wanted to tell them any additional detail which could be helpful for my selection like any past projects undertaken or internships undergone.
Again least to my expectations, few days after, I received a mail from TIFAC with subject “Offer Letter for Internship TIFAC”. At first, I was spellbound and read that mail & attachment twice, later realizing that it was finally done. I had got internship at TIFAC. Adding on to the bucket of surprises, my friend was also selected for this. Coincidence? I told you it was magic!
I was selected for Network Security project and I had to join from mid of June, so I had ample of time to prepare for this new phase of my life. I started doing ground work for my first in-office summer internship. I checked out LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ profiles of TIFAC employees. From Executive Director to past Interns of TIFAC, I connected with each one of them through LinkedIn. I even had a chat with one of the past interns who had worked on the same project as of mine. The only thing I got to know from everyone associated with TIFAC was that I’ll get to learn many new things at TIFAC so I had to be prepared for it. Much to my excitement, I took only a day to kick back to work after my 5th semester exams.
Next day, 9 am I was there with my friend at TIFAC. Much to the surprise, it was the same building in which I had come for my Industrial Training classes last year. At that time, I had no clue that I would be interning next year at this place. Magic again!! TIFAC is at left wing of Department of Management Studies, IIT-D and the whole place is known as Vishwakarma Bhawan. We both had a small talk with Registrar of TIFAC and he asked us to submit handwritten joining letter to him. So, now I was officially an Intern at TIFAC.
Next, I had to report to my mentor. The mentor allotted to me was Executive Director of TIFAC, Prof. Prabhat Ranjan Sir; so in a few minutes, I was outside his room having a talk with his PA regarding the same. I was called in and I was pretty much in awe to meet him. I knew about his accomplishments and his contribution to Indian Technology through LinkedIn, so I was a bit nervous too in front of him. I presented my documents to him and he had a quick look on my marksheets. I called up my friend inside his room and then we both had a talk with him on about everything. From discussing our interests to entrepreneurship and then to the projects we both had undertaken in past. He called up my friend’s mentor Dr. Neeraj Saxena Sir in his room and introduced us as “New interns”. This label was still taking time to gulp down!
Being the highest official in TIFAC, Ranjan Sir had to travel often to attend Technical Conferences and Meetings. So, he asked Neeraj Sir to assign me suitable work for internship. After having a nice interaction with Ranjan Sir, we both went to Neeraj Sir’s chamber.
After having a formal introduction, he explained us what we didn’t know about this office i.e. primary function of TIFAC. I’ll sum up and tell you what exactly he explained. Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) is an autonomous organization set up in 1988 under the Department of Science & Technology to look ahead in technologies, assess the technology trajectories, and support technology innovation by network actions in select technology areas of national importance. The essential point, which I got to know, was that Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam had been Chairman of TIFAC from 1993-2001 and I was having a talk with a person who has worked with Kalam Sir for about 10-15 years. Almost everybody knows about Kalam Sir’s project: India 2020 but only few people know that the project work was undergone through TIFAC. Being a premier institute of Technology Foresight, TIFAC is now working on Technology Vision 2035 and India’s Development by then. The documentation of Technology 2035 has already been sent to PMO and would be released anytime soon.
So, for the day we both were asked to search about Horizon Scanning terms and get accustomed with the office. We both met interns who were already working on different projects. One of them was from the southernmost part of the country, Tamil Nadu and other one was from Punjab. One of them was University Topper and other one was Class Topper. Sitting there, I was thinking how did I get this internship as I was not a class topper (forget about being a University Topper)! Magic? I got my sitting desk next to other interns but other than us every single employee on that floor was a scientist!
Next day, Neeraj Sir took me to an official at another floor. There I met my final mentor, Dr. Yashawant Dev Panwar – Head of Patent Facilitating Centre (PFC), TIFAC. After having a general introduction, I was guided what exactly I had to do in this internship. As I was now a part of PFC, I got privilege to meet PFC team comprising of Women Scientists. From there, my work took off. One of the members of PFC team, Aruna Ma’am, explained me what Patent and Intellectual Property (IP) is all about, how Patent Filing is done and what role TIFAC has in Patent Organisation of India.
My work was to develop a tool to automate the Patent Filing System in TIFAC for which I used Oracle XE and a Business Process Management (BPM) Tool – jBPM 6 comprising of Java 7 and Ant 1.9 with Eclipse IDE. Though all this was not my forte, still I was determined to give my best shot. I started off working with Oracle XE and once all the backend tables were done, I switched to front tool. As it was my first time with BPM tools, it took time to get familiar and work on it.
Getting on to the other part of the internship, for the first time I started off working for full office hours. Whenever I felt dizzy, I used to have a hot cup of joy from the machine. Though the office time was 9 to 5 but mostly, I used to make it 10 to 6. 1 hour was for lunch and we, interns, used to have it in IIT (Management) Canteen. First time I went to the canteen, even the canteen owner recognised me and knew that I had been there last year too. And that was quite special!!
As the Tamil Nadu girl was new to the town and our office was near to Qutub Minar, so the four of us took an extra hour off and peregrinated to Qutub, ending up clicking few memories for lifetime!!
Here comes another big point. I got to know from other employees that TIFAC used to have “Samosa Hour Meeting” on Thursday as per directions of ED of TIFAC in which discussions are held up regarding the projects TIFAC is working on and conferences that would be organized in near future by TIFAC. So, one fine morning every intern got invitation mail from ED for “Samosa Hour Meeting”. It was sharp 4 and I was there with other interns in the meeting room with a big Round Table headed by ED Sir himself. I was quite astonished to hear about projects TIFAC was working under. I even got to know that from Pakistan to China, eminent scientists have been called to attend conferences soon to be organized by TIFAC. But the big point being, I was the only Sikh guy in that Round Table Meeting!!
Adding on to the surprise list, Tamil Nadu girl had no idea about Sikhism. So, one fine day I took up the uphill task and explained what Sikhishm is all about during the lunch time. We even went to Gurudwara Bangla Sahib to complete my chapter about Sikhism.
Few days after, I met more interns who were working on other projects and used to sit on other floors. The question of getting this internship was still confusing me as these people were also geeks. I, even, befriended an intern who was older than all other interns. Being an M.Tech Student from Southern part of India, he was guy who had been lecturer for almost 6 months in his university and now an intern for his M.Tech project. I used to call him “Sir”!! Every now and then, I used to have review meetings and intermittent discussions which ensured project was in right direction.
One day while having lunch at the canteen, one of the PFC team members joined us with two of her colleagues. There itself I had a new set of learning because one of the officials who joined us was functionary of Technology Development Board (TDB), Govt. of India. She explained us what TDB was all about and how they were different from VCs and Private Investors. Being an aspiring entrepreneur, it was a big set of information for me. As TIFAC was just next to IIT’s Management Wing, I got to see how future managers organized events at campus. I was even able to sneak into their Nukkad Natak practice.
Everything was going good but then, a misfortune took place. It was Kalam Sir’s death. As TIFAC and Kalam Sir have unending association, it was a major loss for TIFAC family. Next morning, everyone was called for condolence meeting of former president’s death. It started with sharing memories about Kalam Sir’s work and personality. From the significant members of Kalam Sir’s past team to those who had even met the famous scientist once, shared their anecdotes and experience with People’s President. This was my first time that I got privilege to offer flowers to such a personage as condolence and I thank TIFAC for this.
In all, experience at TIFAC was a brilliant learning process and I am glad that I got a chance to understand a new Government Office and its process. It was the constant encouragement of my guide and support from my friends which helped me continue my journey effectively. I am happy that I was able to utilize my time to the best and I hope my work would contribute to the organization’s success. The best part was, learning tricks of this trade and getting a good amount of stipend too. Other than the project, I even got a Professional Affiliation from a reputed institute – Thanks to ‘Sir’ for this. Though the traveling took a lot of time other than the work hours, but I even utilized that to the best of my abilities. I finished off 3 best seller novels and watched off almost 50 videos of TEDx (from best of Roman Saini to best of Arthur Benjamin), AIB, TVF and Coke Studio collectively. I even won “Share an Internship Contest” of Internshala during my internship days only because of TIFAC. Another good thing happened because of TIFAC was that I made new friends from different parts of our country.
Now when I look back and think about that time when I wasn’t getting a tech internship, five months back, because my domain of expertise is marketing and not tech, I just feel what Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, had said once, “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.”
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