Internship 101: Untold Experiences

Posted on September 23, 2011 in Education

By Lekha Saini:

You wake up in the morning thinking of all the self-motivating and positive-thinking books you’ve no doubt read at some point in your life, and with a smile begin looking forward to another exciting opportunity-filled day. You freshen up and walk out to the bus stop expecting your best friend to be waiting there with a jovial smile and a much needed hug. But all you find is a throng of GET’s (Graduate Engineer Trainee) waiting in separate clusters to board the bus and be the early bird in reaching the office. God knows a smile returned, could do wonders to inject your day with gaiety and happiness. But all you find is blank (or irritated) faces waiting anxiously to get into the rat race they’ve become accustomed to living everyday of their existence.

The bus arrives and excites the solemn congregation as they run up and climb the bus even before it has halted properly. And you would think all ‘gentlemen’ remember the saying ‘Ladies First’. Anyways. You enter, find a seat and sit down. And if you are unlucky enough to get an aisle seat, be prepared to be shrugged, nuzzled, caressed ever so ‘unintentionally’ by everyone who passes by you to get to their seats.

The bus journey in itself is torturous. Since you are the ‘outsider’, no one bothers to give you a second look let alone make small talk. You yearn for the person who saves you a seat and threatens everyone else to keep it vacant for you. But all you find is smug people lost in themselves determinedly looking out the window, not even bothering to look up and acknowledge you when you sit next to them.

The bus gets you to your destination and you heave a sigh of relief to be set free. You walk up to the main gate, the cafeteria, the office always on time and missing those truly picture perfect moments of diddle-daddle with friends and the late entry into the classroom amongst a tremendous uproar from those already present making sure the teacher realises you’re late. What would succeed would be a series of warnings from the teacher and praises from the peers. But you find it missing here. No one to register your presence except an impersonal electronic device. No fight to sit on the first bench ‘coz you have an allotted cubicle(always reminds me of bathrooms) where you’ll remain until you are promoted or fired. No variation, no freedom of choice.

A set routine for the day takes you nostalgically into the series of classes you bunked, the assignments you didn’t submit on time and the ever-present feeling that you still have to give class tests and exams to enter into the next year. But nothing like that here, you don’t have mass assignment-copying, discussions during the tests and an overall fiery wish of bumping your opponent from his place in the toppers’ list. Life is too dank and slow.

As soon as it is midday, you leave everything and trudge to the cafeteria for your lunch. Unlike waiting for the teacher to leave the class, and then either sitting in a group sharing packed lunch from home or sprinting towards the canteen to savour the left-over recess/lunch hour (not necessarily only by eating), you are given an almost negligent task of stuffing yourself up with food to survive the next 6 hours with no more food. And you miss the packets of biscuits and chips you devoured while sitting inconspicuously on the last seat in an ongoing lecture.

As soon as it is the end of the last lecture of the day and time to leave the college, you would be seen running towards the main gates, bag in hand, escaping towards freedom a.k.a your home. Here, welcome the weekend, (literally, after a 6-day working week), and you wish you were comfortably at home or with friends you have known in thick-and-thin and created memories with. But neither is plausible because the return journey itself would consume more time than what you would get to spend at home or with real friends.

(A word of caution: a career-oriented environment breeds only frenemies and never reliable friends who would be there always to support you, guide you and turn you into a better version of yourself.)

You run through the years wishing college would end and you would get to join a company. You are in awe of the casual work-environment and the liberties you get there(plus the money ofcourse). You live through everything so fast that you have no recollection of what you did, say, a week before. It’s not that you don’t want it to be that way, you just don’t seem to have the ‘time’.

Trust me, an internship for 5weeks teaches you a lot more than just the technical stuff. It is like a kiss of death which you escape unhurt but which rekindles the fire within you to live your life to the fullest.

As someone close to me remarked once… “Live one day at a time. Don’t rush into things. Savour the moments one-by-one, and create picture-perfect memories worth a lifetime…”