‘Internship Stories’ will be a series of posts by current students at IIT Madras who had worked this summer at popular core, finance & FMCG firms, as well as in research programmes within and outside India. They will recount their experiences and try to give the reader a picture of what the work and benefits of such internships are. This is based on a similar series by IIT Bombay.
I am Achyuth Sanjay, better known as Tempo, now in my 4th year doing a B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering. I was Lit-Sec of Godav and Quiz Club Secretary last year. I quiz, play the keyboard, play football, play FIFA and AoE when I am not sleeping or eating, and I mug when I am not doing either of the above things. I did my internship in the Tobacco Division of ITC, in their Pune factory.
ITC is basically a cigarette manufacturing company which over the past couple of decades decided to expand its business and enter the hospitality, foods, paper and other FMCG goods market segments. The ITD (India Tobacco Division) continues to be its core business generating a huge chunk of their revenue. Each division of ITC i.e. Tobacco, Foods, Paper, Paper & Packaging functions independently of the other, almost like a separate company.
ITC has an internship programme called KITES (it has a full form which I currently cannot recall) where they recruit technical as well as management interns. For technical interns, they go to all the IITs and a few NITs. The selection process for these internships is not much different from their placement process. There is an initial shortlist based on an application that you have to fill out. Almost everyone who has a decent CGPA (above 7, I guess) gets through this shortlist. This is followed by a GD. Like any other GD, they will give you a case study or a hypothetical situation, where there will be moral conflicts. And again, like any other GD, they look for good communication skills, ability to lead a discussion without being domineering, and openness to others’ ideas. This is followed by 2 rounds of PI, which is a mix of both technical and HR, at each level. The kind of questions asked are different for different panels, but after coming here, I found out they only look for a fundamental grasp on the basic engineering concepts in your field, and the work that you have done as part of a team. This could be your previous internship(s), your work as a coordinator/Core in Shaastra/Saarang or any other Position of Responsibility. They want to know how well you work on projects and so on.
After getting through, they have a 2 day programme in Kolkata in March/April where they call interns from all the colleges and have a one and a half day programme consisting of lectures in lean manufacturing, six sigma practices, and also soft skills like teamwork, communicating well and so on. It is a very interactive session, and it is a wonderful experience to meet the people from the other colleges, some of whom might end up working with you in the course of your internship.
The interns are put in various divisions. This is an internal process in ITC where they go through your application and put you in positions according to your application. It is true for most of the times, although there have been cases where a mechanical guy has been put in what seems to be like a core-chemical project, and vice versa. In my case, they had noted that I did my previous internship in Toyota where I was exposed to their famed Toyota Production System and their implementation of lean manufacturing practices, and hence gave me a project on a lean management system.
The highlight of an ITC internship is that they give you a live project to work on i.e. you will be working on something which actually affects their business. And in most cases, you will be working alone, under a guide. The perks of doing a live project are that you are treated like an employee – if you need to travel to other factories, they will arrange for travel, accommodation and so on. On the other hand, they also demand extreme professionalism in terms of meeting deadlines, delivering the targets and so on. Since this internship process is a channel for them to recruit people, they check for how well you blend into the system, how well you understand your project completely (this is arguably the most crucial bit), and what new or innovative ideas you can bring to the table, which are feasible for implementation. This last point will be stressed upon throughout your interaction with anyone in ITC.
The kind of work that you do, again depends on your project. There are projects which are hardcore, erm, core jobs, and then there are projects which have more to do with manpower planning, job allocation, spares management and all. As I said, the kind of project that you get will depend on what your app looks like. Mine was a manpower planning job allocation type project which I believe was due to my previous internship in Toyota. Luckily, I was neither interested nor did I have the necessary fundaes for doing a proper technical intern, so this project worked out to be pretty much aligned with what I want to do in the future.
I have no intentions of writing GRE. Apart from that, I am pretty much unsure about what I want to do. Internship projects in ITC are as varied as they come, and luckily, the project I worked on was the kind of work that I would like to do in the future.
All in all, ITC is a good place to intern at, has a fantastic work environment where everyone is nice, you get free Sunfeast and Bingo in office, and you get a decent stipend too. Plus, if you are lucky, you will be around for a few office parties.