Saturday, June 23, 2012

Summer Internship Diaries, Post 1






Okay, I reached Mumbai on 15th of April, pretty excited. During the initial 10 days, Tata Motors had provided us with accommodation in a hotel. The hotel where I[or rather the entire 3rd batch] stayed was pretty decent, and situated at a stone throws distance from the Gateway of India/Taj Hotel. The room which I got was pretty decent. My room-mate was a bulky, bespectacled, gregarious guy called Dibyaroop, from XIM-B. An extrovert, fun loving guy who is a master at handling people. I would say anyone can learn decent management skills from him.

Anyways, I met Amitabha and invited him to my room. Later we went down to the Gateway, and had lunch at Café Mondegar, a popular,crowded place for youngsters. The Mumbai crowd had already begun to fascinate me. Amitabha left in the evening, and during the course of the day met other co-interns who were staying at the hotel, including Tapish, my FMS classmate. It was fun interacting with people from a mixture of Bschools. However, I did not really get the courage to speak to any female intern.

Okay, April 16th was my first day at Tata Motors, and my first day at corporate[being a fresher]. The first two days were reserved for the induction programme, after which everyone would leave for their respective destination[which was revealed during the induction]. I was a bit apprehensive, since I had no idea where I would end up, considering Tata Motors has its presence in multiple locations in India and outside. The office where we had to report to was near the Bombay Stock Exchange. For those who do not know, Tata Motors has 7 offices in the Mumbai region itself.

Anyways the induction programme was good, and well structured. Got to know quite a few things about Tata Motors and their business operations. A host of speakers came to take different sessions, which was quite interactive. We even had a cake cutting ceremony with the HR head. The ice was broken, and all 45-46 of us got along well. Lots of formalities were done and finally the time came for the project locations to be announced. I felt a sigh of relief when I got to hear that my location would be Mumbai itself, as I had really wanted to explore the city[having only been here once before, and that too for one day]. Deboo[Dibyaroop] got Mumbai too, and so did many others. However, quite a few did get other places, such as Pune, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, even Nepal and Sri Lanka. Some were happy, others were apprehensive.

Got to speak with quite a few people in the induction, and hopefully made a few friends as well. Cannot recollect all their names, but to include a few, Sarthak, Navtej, Tanya, Rohan, Mayank, Priya, Ankita, Oscar, Shraddha, Mallika, Vishal, etc. It was a pleasure interacting with all of you. Also met Aditya Verma and Aastha from FMS, coming out of the Taj Hotel at night[they had their induction over there, courtesy HSBC].

So the induction ended and I was supposed to work in the same office building, since the HR division operated out of there. Got introduced to my project head and my project guides, all of them being extremely nice and helpful people. My first impression of Tata Motors was pretty positive.

Now to talk a bit about the employees in Tata Motors. To be more specific, those in HR[though I have interacted with people in several departments, but primarily I was in the HR division]. The environment was mostly informal, though of course formal meetings and discussions existed as well. Tata Motors has recently adopted a First-name culture, which is slowly spreading across all offices. Which means even a junior officer can call the CFO by first name rather than to say Sir or Maam. The best part was that anytime you could speak to the senior management team without being apprehensive or worried. Nobody would stop you from doing what you wanted to do. You had decent independence to take a call. And neither was anyone on your head pressurizing you to do this and that. The average age group in the HR department would be 24-25, with over 60% of the employees being female. So often there was situations where I found myself being surrounded by girls on all sides[not to be taken negatively though]. As for me, I got an entire cubicle to myself[which could normally seat 2 people]. That too just near the newly installed Coffee machine. Which meant I had generous helpings of Chocolate drinks and Badam Pista shakes daily. Everyone was friendly and always ready to help. Starting from the security guards[whose contribution was extremely valuable] to the Chief Learning Officer, who actually encouraged me to do lots of things.

My co-interns in the same department were: Rachit Bijalwan, Twisam Datta, Mayank Saraf, Megha Pathak, Krishnapriya Singh, Anivesh Kumar, Ganesh and Deboo. Met other interns too, such as Satish, Ankita, Prasanna, etc. Together we had lots of fun and fultoo masti. Honestly I feel sad for some of the interns who had to work alone in certain locations. Working without a fellow intern nearby is a hell boring job.
The canteen offered average food, but a wide variety of it. And it had a Free Snacks time from 5 pm to 7 pm. So you could eat and drink as much as you want for free during that time. Notable to say is that the considerable appetite of Deboo and Twisam made them partners in search of cheap, tasty food in the Fort area. They told me they found a restaurant which sold really cheap and delicious fish. Though I am a non-veg, I usually avoid eating heavy food outside. So I decided to stick to the canteen on most occasions. Nevertheless we did try out places such as Paratha Mantra and Café Samovar[in the Jehangir Art Gallery nearby].

A bit about my project work[but don’t worry I wont go into the details]. Within HR, I was working under the Learning and Development team. My project was related to making a database of External training programmes based on the need requirements of corporate functions. Didn’t understand that? Fine, lets move on.

Just after having stayed in one week at Tata Motors, a Plant trip was organized by the team, to get us acquainted with the process of developing vehicles, performing research, etc. So 5 of us interns, along with 2 other employees were sent to the Tata Motors, Pune plant. It was a fun trip, and I really enjoyed it. I feel it was one of the best part of my internship, since I could witness how a car is made from scratch and what the working environment in a plant is like.

There are lots of things I could write about the Plant trip, but I will restrict myself to mentioning a few: i) The ERC or the engineering research center, where the vehicle models are designed and benchmarking is done, ii) The different Assembly lines where the vehicles are made, the welding and painting shops, etc, iii) The Crash testing site, where vehicles are literally crashed to check for damage and impact on the drivers. Ours was a structured programme, and there were people to guide us at every step. We had official guides who gave us tours in multiple areas across the plant. And trust me, it is quite a big plant. Almost like an entire city in itself. It felt good to have lunch with all other employees, in the massive canteen. I was especially impressed to see how blue collar workers keep doing the same job hour after hour, day after day. Hats off to these guys, the actual producers. Though yes, some part of the process has also been automated, as in huge robotic arms doing the stuff.

During the two day trip, I handled all the logistics, including calling the cabs, deciding the locations to be visited next, co-ordinating with the POCs, etc. The trip to Pune, on the Mumbai-Pune expressway is also a nice one.

I had decided to meet Amitabha, as he is staying in Pune itself. So I thought I would call him to my hotel later at night. But imagine my surprise, as our team was deciding to leave the plant, I saw a tall guy wearing sunglasses, with sleek hair walking past. He looked like a salesman. I almost ignored him, till I head my name being mentioned. I turned around and saw that the guy was Amitabha. He had come for some work at Tata Motors. Talk about a co-incidence. Anyways later during the day he took me on his bike inside the main city.

We had loads of fun, and I really enjoyed it. I saw Osho’s ashram, several cafes and finally ended up at Phoenix Mall, one of the most popular ones. Had Papri Chaat, saw cricket on the extra huge television, and then left. Reached my hotel at night, and then slept off. A worthwhile trip ended. Btw, the hotel where we stayed at Pune was really good. Better than the one at Mumbai. Also met Sarthak[co-intern from SIBM Pune] there.

Back in Mumbai, it was time to search for accommodation of my own[the hotel was only there for 10 days]. I had heard lot of stories that getting a convenient, cheap accommodation in Mumbai was a pain, and that people travelled for over 1.5 hours daily, struggling in local trains, in order to reach their offices. Moreover, getting a cheap accommodation in South Mumbai[the place where my office was] was out of the question. Anyways, I just decided to go to Wilson college[near Marine drive] and search if they had a room available in their boys hostel[since the college was closed for summer vacation]. And lo and behold, I got a room within 2 days itself. That too at a very reasonable rate. The warden was a pretty decent guy, who knew quite a bit about FMS.

So I shifted to Wilson with Rachit[who became my new room-mate]. Deboo shifted to another college, Xaviers. I met up with Twisam and Rito Da[first_timer from Pagalguy] who were also staying at Wilson, along with several other people from XLRI, including Abhay, Himanshu, Rishob, Abhishek, etc. Megha and Krishnapriya shifted to an army girl’s hostel.

From FMS, Rachit Kwatra and Karandeep were also staying in Wilson, and Divya G, Divya Katoch and Bibha were staying in the girls hostel of Wilson. Shilpa Sardar was also nearby. So was Sudhanshu Suman and Indrajeet Das[though I didn’t meet them].
Now it was time for Round 2.

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