Name of the intern: – Mayank Savla
Institute: – IIM Ranchi
Organization interned with: – Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd.
Summer internship – oh yes, I was all excited about it. Not that this was my first job. I had already had my share of work experience before the PGDM course here at IIM Ranchi. I was going to intern in my home city which was a good thing. I had a place to live and family to be around with. I was told I would be working on a supply chain project for a biomass based power plant. Not something I had dreamt of. But then I told myself, “Hey, you survived that project in your previous job, you can face anything.” The one year at IIM Ranchi also added to my confidence. My internship began with the usual read the project details – read the related literature – check the project reports routine. It was a part of the Social Inclusion project. I was required to provide a solution that profited the plant as well as helped the farmers associated with it.
My previous job as a Java developer had required me to work with Java variables and Oracle DB objects. The objects/variables very much followed a set of rules. I could predict their behavior and make them work together the way I wanted them to. And now, I found myself interacting with farmers and contractors from varied socio-economic backgrounds, in the scorching heat of April and May, wondering how was I going to make them give me the picture and then – the bigger problem– make them want to follow the solution I would somehow manage to work out for them. There was no cookbook that told me the rules these human variables followed or taught me about their behavior in various environments. I was overwhelmed.
The project required me to visit the plant and its fuel collection centers in villages. The job profile was quite different from the traditional perception of a managerial job profile. It was not even close to a ‘summer internship kind of job’ profile. No sitting in carpeted glass door corporate offices and analyzing figures (pun intended) of any sort. But then I began to like the challenge.
During my internship, my wife once tried to explain to her aunt at a village what I was doing. Her aunt was horrified that in spite of all the education, her son-in-law was working with farmers. She taunted my wife that I must have failed in college to have to work with farmers; and that, in that case, there was no difference between her matric fail farmer uncle and her supposedly IIM educated husband. My wife let her aunt soak in her self-discovered glory for her husband. And later we had a heartful of laughter at her expense. Also I began to realize that I was going to deal with different kinds of people with different backgrounds who would not know what I was really up to.
Interacting with the new team was yet another task. I had worked in an environment where my managers had once been developers. We were on same page and there was ease in communication. But here I was among Social Science graduates and PhD holders or with famers, contractors and plant managers. We all spoke different tongues. Lots of scope for misinterpretations! Previously, managers to me were hell’s representatives on earth. They were appointed for the sole purpose of torturing every soul in the office. My supervisors during the internship, however, painted a very different picture for me – a pleasant one. They were approachable and available for discussions. It bought an astonishing yet welcome change in my perception of ‘higher management’. But not all highly placed people will give you the right guidance. I was required to interact with this consultant for some time. I was hoping to learn a lot from him. I did learn about the project from him. I learned the ideal project situation and the ideal solution required for the project – to be more precise – from him. But then we don’t live in an ideal world. We don’t need ideal solutions. We need feasible and workable solutions, because solutions are implemented by people, not robots. People don’t follow ideal behavior. This I learned from the farmers and my supervisors. Looking back, I now realize that the world is not made of Java and Oracle objects, but with people who come from different backgrounds and who need solutions for their unique problems. Now you don’t need a degree to understand that. Plain common sense and an open mind would suffice.