About the Author: Randhir, an electrical engineering student from National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra, takes us through his internship experience at Alstom, Bangalore.
“Sometimes you make the choices and sometimes the choices make you.”
Well, for me, it was the latter. Alstom Transport Limited, one of the biggest names in the core power industry, chose me for a summer internship. I was the first one from my batch to got dressed in formals and go for the company’s presentation. Being an 8-pointer student, I wasn’t sure about my selection, but I wanted to give my best. At 11 pm, the Placement Department announced the results; I was one of the ten students to land up with the internship. Little did I know that the internship experience would double up as the missing piece in my incomplete puzzle of becoming an engineer.
Alstom’s office was located in the heart of the Silicon Valley of India – Bangalore. My mind was clouded by a myriad of thoughts, wondering how the office and Bangalore would be. All this anxiety was also coupled with the insatiable excitement of moving to a new city and working in a Multi National Company. On my first day, I woke up early from the cozy bed of Siesta Honey Dew (the wonderful hotel that hosted us for a week), not wanting to get late. I got dressed in my newly bought formal clothing by 7:30 a.m, had my breakfast and boarded Bus 314 for Bagmane Tech Park. It was tough for me to converse with the bus conductor, considering how I was not fluent in the local Kannada language. Nevertheless, I managed to reach Alstom on time, where the HR Manager segregated us (the interns) into various departments.
I was allotted the Automatic Train Supervision (ATS) Department. We were allotted our project on ATS Validation. The task was to code in Visual Basic for Application (VBA) in Excel. Initially, I did not even know that one could code in Excel. But, we found the task so interesting that we managed to finish it in the same week. Further, we automated the workbook which was given to us. Our manager was impressed. Next, he introduced me to a validator there who was apparently from my college. It was through him that I learned all the things one could actually do in ATS. Being a validator, he taught me many things regarding validation, how the route of a metro is set, how a train is fired, monitored, doors are opened, and hundreds of other things. This was very exciting as I was actually getting to learn the nitty-gritty details of how a metro train is operated and monitored. Coincidentally, the signaling of Delhi Metro was done by Alstom itself.
Very soon, I got a chance to spread my wings with my second project, titled ‘ATS Migration of Software from One Platform to Another.’ I was a part of the integration team, wherein we actually made codes that the validators used to check. I was given the task of migrating the Delhi software with Bangalore. This was a big project that took almost 3 weeks for completion. Here, I learned about XML tags apart from getting an opportunity to apply my VBA knowledge to automate things. I completed the task before the deadline, leaving my mentor impressed.
It was my first encounter with the corporate world. I realized that I needed to improve my vocabulary. Earlier, I had no experience of having any sort of formal interactions with my colleagues but I picked up this habit from my internship. The life after 6 p.m. and the weekends were challenging too. We were given the hotel for only a week, which we extended to 10 days. After that, we had to find a P.G., which is not at all an easy task in Bangalore. It was also a struggle to find an economical place for dinner every day. I had lazy days and experienced fights over water shortage, splitting bills etc, the joy of receiving my first stipend, buying gifts for the family, the great stipend dinner etc., all of which leaves me nostalgic now. It was certainly a great experience living in a new city with new people. As I write my internship experience in a cubicle that I have to leave in a week, I don’t want to forget the summer of 2016 and the endless memories that I’ve collected through it. I’ll miss Alstom.