Summer Internship with Alstom India — Shiv from NIT Kurukshetra

Wildcard entry for: –  23rd August 2012

Name of the intern: –  Shiv

Institute: –  NIT Kurukshetra

Organization interned with: –  Alstom India

It was September 2011 when it was announced at college that Alstom India, one of the big names in the core power industry, was visiting our campus for job recruitment as well as internship offers. We were in the third year of our graduation and I still remember how the HR of the company made a remark that it was us, the third years who were more formally dressed, enthusiastic and presentable than our final year counterparts. It was the fresh excitement I guess, especially when we knew they were offering a stipend for the internship as well :P We had a grilling round of group discussion, followed by personal interviews. We waited till 9 PM when the result was finally announced. Yay! I was selected! I reckon I had the same expression of joy when I received the offer letter. It seemed all grand and fancy — my mentor’s name was there along with the project that I had been allotted. And above all, the center we were posted to was their Head Office in Noida. So I got to enjoy my city culture as well as undergo a quality internship.

As soon as our semester exams got over and I arrived at home, lists were spread out. There was shopping to do. Buy formals, a new bag etc. And then I was ready for my first day at internship. I made sure that I had my shirt tucked perfectly in without a single wrinkle on the creases. I live at the opposite end in Delhi. I had to take a metro to get there, and it was about a one and half hour journey (one-way) from my home to the office. I had to get down at Noida Sector 18 metro station and from there the office bus would pick us up. I waited at their reception along with a friend, who had also been selected from Electrical Engineering department at our college for the internship.

The place was grand. The building was so beautiful and there was such a calm atmosphere inside that we knew it was some MNC. Finally we were called in. Their university-relations Manager greeted us and we were briefed on Alstom culture — our routine, duties, the internship programme etc. Weekdays 9-6, but the timings were flexible but you had to complete a total of 45 hours in a week. Alstom Power, based in France, is a leading company in Power Plant business. I was posted at Thermal Gas Plant business. And my mentor had changed, and so had the project. The first day at work seemed boring and unexciting, but yes, the lunch break was awesome. The formally dressed employees at the office were fun to discuss about. We were a total of four interns posted in that department, and shared that bonding trying to adapt to the new environment.

My first thoughts were that this was going to be boring, perhaps, more or less the same that until you kept poking your nose around, you don’t get to learn anything. Glad I was proven wrong. I was assigned a project, which was ‘Standardisation of Hardwired Signal List and Revision of Standard Interface Documents for Electrical Equipments’. My mentor was the group leader there. He was a busy person, but dedicated to work — which included a liability towards me. I wonder if he knew I was getting paid though — that changes the nature and amount of work you are expected to do. The first week was spent on learning the power plant basics and other theoretical information relating to the field and what would help me in my project. It started off well and I jumped onto the project. Over weeks, I fell for this new routine minus travelling. I can firmly conclude that travelling on the blue line (Delhi metro) in the morning everyday is like getting raped. I almost wanted to head for a shower after reaching office everyday (at the gym there). I lost interest in getting elegantly dressed in formals as that was not very likeable to the metro crowd. However I managed to read my newspaper, The Hindu, thoroughly while travelling every morning to Noida. It saved time that I desperately needed. I left around 8 in the morning everyday from my place and returned around 8 at night. Then I would be too mentally (and somewhat physically) exhausted for spending any time on reading.

This was the beginning to a number of things that were to be realized during these two months of internship. Indeed, a good internship isn’t all about practical knowledge of engineering but about the work culture, ethics and better insight about life. Each and every day was a great learning experience for me. I value the non-technical experiences more about my internship. It was an evolving phase for me and helped me see the direction I needed for my career. Lucrative packages — a big NO. I wasn’t really the money-centered guy anyway, but yes it strengthened my belief this time that there are things beyond riches. Luxury is not about big earnings but comfort; comfort is not about an easy job but hard work that pays and a sense of satisfaction in working a job that suits you the best. Travelling in a metro was not tiring any more as it initially seemed to be. Occasionally, I would invite my friends to meet me at Rajiv Chowk, and we would hangout for a while or go shopping (if needed — not the girly-business I mean). It was about squeezing time out for everything you wanted to do despite hectic schedules. Also, checking out girls travelling in the metro was fun.

Then I and my fellow intern there were slowly getting used to solving aptitude problems in our bid to prepare for campus placements that had already started while we were still completing our internship. Yes I was three weeks late for joining college but it was worth it, I believe. I realized that I had a family, even though you’re just a free bird as a bachelor, to take care of. As much as it used to be family-time over weekends, I had to catch up on a lot of things that I missed during weekdays spent at the internship. Like practising my singing, attending group meetings of a Youth Collective that I’m a part of; spending time with friends, and of course, the neighbourhood aunties who complained of my indifferent attitude since I started ‘working’. After all, you are a social being.

One day while I was at the cafeteria, one of the employees who used to sit next to my cubicle invited me for a chat over coffee. After the introduction, he asked me about my career plan and then we talked for about 20 minutes. Those 20 minutes changed the way I worked there. He not only shared his own experience so far, but he made that inter-personal connection that I’m thankful for. At a workplace, you not only work on projects but work with an organization. He highlighted the importance of socialising and making good professional contacts. Project work is just a part of learning and it does not even compare with the learning and knowledge that your fellow employees can impart if you approach to them and establish a sound professional relationship. Not only it is helpful to you in your project work but also for overall growth. Also, professional relationships are quite tricky to handle.

Never run away from work, but work for your true interest. And it’s never too late to realize this fact and start working towards it. Never complain about lack of time. If you are determined, you will find ways to create some. It’s all about time management rather. And being professional and focused does not at all mean you cut yourself off from the real life. Striking balance between your personal and professional life is extremely vital. In fact, you stay more focused when you are free of worries which have a direct relationship to your level of satisfaction with your life off-job.

I am a theatre enthusiast and an aspiring singer. And at the same time, I love my field of engineering. I have been confused about choosing an appropriate direction for career but now it made sense. That you can manage both the things at the same time — your hobbies and your profession. I’m glad that I had my first formal theatre experience as well this summer. As for the singing, it was lucky that one of my fellow interns was a singer too. Apart from the laughing riot we used to create at the diner every afternoon at lunch, we would practice our singing. It was fun and stress-relieving. Then we had these discussions on a myriad of topics almost everyday. I guess that was not only helpful in our preparation for GD rounds during placements that were to follow, but at the same time it was a mature exercise to ratify our understanding of life. I’m glad I successfully completed my project by the end of my internship period. My mentor was impressed with my work and dedication. I made good new friends too — one of them is a student at IIT Ropar, and I’m looking forward to an exchange of knowledge and experiences with him in future as well. I’m pleased at the professional contacts I share with some of the employees there, who would love to guide me in future as well if I ever need it. And above all, I’m glad that now I have a clear picture of how I have to work for my career.

Was this interesting? If yes, please like the post on Facebook (below) and help Shiv become winner of the week and win the prize (Rs. 1,000/-) that he truly deserves!

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