Old City, New Experience.

by Kumar Raja on Wednesday 15 August 2012, 11:42 PM | Category: Summer Internship Contest| View: 2120 views


Ask someone about their summer internship and you're likely to hear the following – back-breaking, boring, same old-same old, taxing, nothing much. Mine falls under a rather unreported category – smooth, engaging and enjoyable.

I interned at Innopark India, along with my classmate and friend, Das (his first name is too complicated). The company is an innovative solutions provider focussed on the online gambling industry in the UK. Based out of Hyderabad, it sits snugly in a residential neighbourhood, prompting us to nickname it on the very first day we walked in – “Ah, the friendly neighbourhood Innopark.” Our HR did not laugh.

Our selection was rather different from the other interviews I had sat through till I nailed this one. The first round was telephonic. I had read up the company details from their website, about online gaming, online marketing et al. I ended up having a chat with the HR where she asked me how I'd liked Hyderabad when I'd worked there earlier. Caught on the wrong foot, yes, but an enjoyable conversation. She then asked me to make a one page write up on anything under the sun and send a scanned copy across. A graphology test. Hmmm. This was new to me.

After making 3 drafts on what marketing meant to me, I chucked them all and sent in a small piece on why people fell in love. 3 days later I was talking to the head of the marketing division and then with one of the directors. Half an hour later, I was in. Das called me to confirm he was joining me. Gee, summers in Hyderabad, I thought.

Hyderabad is a small, cute little city. Having worked there for two years in the past, the place felt like second home. The biryanis and the kebabs just made me feel more welcome than ever.

We had a brilliant start. On the very first day, we were taken to a fine dining restaurant for lunch! Our arrival happened to coincide with the company's quarter closing. Grinning afterwards, we asked our manager enthusiastically as to when we would start work. He told us that we would start “very soon” i.e. once we were clear on what the company did and what was expected of us. And thus started our summer of reading documents, articles and papers – online marketing welcomed us with a big hug.

The first week was really lackadaisical. We did nothing but read, read and read. So much for waltzing in and saving the day for Innopark. Pretty soon, we got bored (how much coffee and reading can one take) and almost accosted our manager for some work. He told us in very a kind tone that we'd soon be up to our neck in work and we'd be better off enjoying this lean period.

So while the reading was going on, we befriended some of our co-workers. They were all very genial, not treating us as the “two interns” but as regular employees. We made some good friends and explored Hyderabad's restaurants and caught up on movies. Innopark had a wonderful system. Whenever you needed coffee, you just had to ring up the pantry and they'd come and deliver the same with a smile. Pretty soon, whenever they heard my voice, they used to respond with a laugh- “Yes Saar, coffee, strong and without sugar. Coming.”

While we were settling into our relaxing routine, our manager just broke in one day and said we had to work on white papers, create frameworks, outlines, content and what not. Enter the world of online marketing. This space is just like brick and mortar marketing. To an outsider and sometimes even an unknowing intern, it's all pizzazz and glamour. But behind all that, is the usual long hours put in.

Before you can put a single word on the web out there, one must think in all possible angles as to why we are putting it, how it will help us and more importantly what to do so that it doesn't come back to bite us.

With tasks assigned to us, we worked at it till we thought it was perfect and sent it for review, expecting kudos. It came back for rework with spots we had thought were clean but seemingly wasn't. Our manager, in an instant, had spotted what we had missed. Experience versus blind enthusiasm!

Grudgingly we worked again on it and sent it back. Came back like Mowgli's boomerang! Again! And again and again! 3 weeks down and we were still cutting our diamonds. By the time we were resigned to working on this for the rest of our lives, our manager called us and said it was “all good” and we were going to be given a second project. Bitter sweet, I thought.

Meanwhile we had caught up on Brave, Rowdy Rathore, Prometheus and had visited the Old City and sampled qubanki ka meetha. The summer was fading and the weather was becoming pleasant. We had our own “gang” at the office and played carroms after lunch. Everyone at the office recognized us and then lo, one day we got our first pay check! Been some time! I tell you, it's always nice to be appreciated, especially when the appreciation is in your national currency.

The second project involved some internal analysis which involved lot of cross functional interactions. This was real management work – interesting and frustrating at times. The former because we met everyone who worked with the marketing department and learned new stuff. The latter because sometimes of the lack of information on a subject or because it was difficult to catch people amidst their busy schedule. Nevertheless we went through a lot of “so what do you do”, “can you please explain that”, “have you tried”, “why do you”, “oh, I never knew”, “that is so interesting”.

We made insghtful observations, gave outrageous ideas and sometimes unbeknownst to us, also some good, practical ones. Thankfully, there was not any number crunching or statistical modeling. Bar charts scared me a bit. Once we were done bothering everyone, we started on our report.

With our past “experience”, there was not much rework. As we were finishing, we realized we had come to the sunset of our internship. Nine weeks had just flown by! I asked my manager if our report was fine. He just patted me and said “All fine. Itna load math le yaar.”  The internship had gone well. I felt happy.

As I said my goodbyes, I also looked back to see if I'd learned. Of course I had.

  1. Internships are better at small to medium sized companies. You actually have work and more freedom to do it. 
  2. You also meet and get to know people better. There is more to a day at work than staring at a computer.
  3. Online marketing is not what I thought it to be. It is damn hard work. Come on, you have to convince people to buy something by sending them emails! But it's very interesting. I'd love to work on it in the future.
  4. Management isn't rocket science. It's not marbles either. It's somewhere in between and grossly misunderstood.
  5. This one is more of a re-enforcement. Hyderabad biryani is the best biryani I will ever have.

All in all, a good summer. Pun intended.

-Kumar Raja, DoMS IIT Madras



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