This isn’t an article about selection procedures, waiting for the offer letter or how and what you should know about bagging an internship. This is me sharing my experience of the 8 wonderful weeks I spent as an intern at Citi Corp, Pune.
To be honest, I had little to no idea about what I wanted out of the internship season or life really, and was applying to every glorious reputable company which came along. Citi was the first one to shortlist and eventually select me.
For the longest time, I had no idea the kind of work I would be assigned. As I had no preferences to begin with, I wasn’t disappointed on knowing that I would be working as a software developer. Although this freaked me out at first given my lack of programming experience, I was enthusiastic and ready to face any challenges I might face.
On the first day, I was introduced to the 6 other interns I would be working with. We were a weird bunch, and it took some time before we gelled together. Despite hailing from different institutions and backgrounds, we all had the same eager-eyed expression of wanting to do our best.
As it turns out, corporations, especially in the banking sector, have a tedious and nerve-wracking process for on-boarding new employees. It took us the first week to get our computers set up. Add to it a missing manager, who decides to take a break the week the interns are arriving. This was the first bump in the road. Determined to not let it faze me I started learning about the business sector we would be creating solutions for.
Again, I wanted to do more, I was ready to work and prove myself. We bugged the graduates aka buddies to help us get started and tell us what our work would involve or the kind of technology we would work with, and started familiarising ourselves with it. Late into our second week, we received our problem statement: “Extracting and separating the name and address of the client from a text message to auto-populate fields”. Looks pretty basic at first glance. It was. Now, a lot of your internship experience depends on luck. I was lucky enough to have a team with a well defined project, wonderful co-workers and lots of free time.
By the end of the third week we had prepared a working solution for the problem, which to the envy of other interns allowed us spend our time either making minor improvements or playing carrom. I have to say we were improving everyday, at the carrom I mean, sadly my programming skills stayed the same. The pantry was our usual hang out spot and the place where we met most of the other people from our Business Unit.
Work could get boring at times, given it’s cyclic nature. I learnt later on, this is exactly how it is. You do not have work always, you don’t always come in at 10, know what you have to do, and get right to it. Work comes in like sound waves, there will be times when you will be compressed and you will be working for hours on end. And then there will be days when you have so little work, you ask yourself why you bothered to come in. This is something I could’ve done better, utilising my free time, my single most valuable resource. It’s not like I wasted all my time lazing in the 6th floor cafeteria, sipping on my coffee, gazing out of the one-way mirrored glass walls, waiting for my turn at carrom. I wasted some of it. But as it so happens, it was one of the best places to socialise, as everyone in our BU was bound to walk in the pantry some time. We would try to talk to them, hear their experiences and ask our questions.
With about three quarters of our way through the internship, and the onset of monsoon, we decided to go for a trek to Tikona Fort. Fifty kilometers from the city, built on the top of a beautiful lush plateau was this fort. Sitting amongst the clouds, with friends by my side and the fort behind my back, I was exhilarated. It is the most treasured memory I have of my time in Pune. Shared experience is the foundation of any relationship, and this trek for us, was the one. After this we were inseparable, we would go out for meals, parties, or sit talking for a long time.
In the last quarter of our internship, given the early success of our earlier project we were assigned new ones. We were supposed to finish this one in a week, as the last week would consist of presentations and end week formalities. We set to work immediately and managed to finish this one off in time too.
Then it was time for the much dreaded presentations. Our team, had worked on a total of 5 projects. It took us a few late nights and demo presentations with the buddies to get ready with all our presentations. All of us were confident in our work, had agreed upon the parts we would be speaking on and were prepared to get on stage. We made sure to hype each other up, and went forward with the attitude of come what may. The presentations went by in a flash, and were highly appreciated by the senior members of the team, due to its reliability and promise of future implementation in real time applications. We were elated.
Time was starting to slip by us and the more tightly we held on to it the faster it ran out. We did not want this dream to end, as we found in each other a growing understanding and camaraderie. We spent the next couple of days, clicking photographs, cherishing the time we spent together and promising to keep in touch.
This is what I take back from my experience at Citi: don’t measure your success by the metrics set by society, by the annual package you are offered and the kind of reputation a company has that you manage to get into. Measure it by your happiness and ability to make time and choices for yourself. Your experience at any corporation is not dependent on the kind of work you get, but by the attitude you have. You can have work that interests you and still find ways to be miserable, and you can have tough work and still treat it as a delight.
This is the quote we read every day as we came in to work,