Campus Diaries
on 21 August, 2013

Internship - Part Of The Curriculum Or An Eye Opener

Experience shared by: Shipreeta Verma from Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneshwar (XIMB)

Description: I have heard people saying that the amount of knowledge they gain in this short span is immense. Here I am stating about my internship which not only taught me to handle my work but also made me familiar to a life I had never imagine.

To begin with, it all started on November'12, when I got selected for my Internship at L&T. Considering the fact that not even half of the batch was selected by this time, this was a great achievement. I was loathed with congratulations by friends and batch mates even before I had myself seen the result. What was even better, that six students of my section were selected for internship there. I felt that this would be great fun. Six of us together (we were always considered to be the most freaking and fun loving section at our institute) in an organisation which of great fame, perhaps I couldn’t have asked for a better internship.

However, this excitement subsided when in January we got our postings for internship. All of us were posted in different cities and I had to report at Chennai for my Summer Internship. Although I had never been to Chennai before, but the feedbacks and comments that my friends gave were sufficient for me to understand that staying at Chennai during the summer months of May and June would be difficult at least for me, a resident of Ranchi, a place where nature has bestowed its blessings upon. This was not all, I also feared the thought of staying at a place where effective communication shall also be a problem for me without any friend or acquaint. Still, I was excited about my location, not because I had never been there before, but because I had heard my mother saying that if you really want to see the essence of Indian culture then South Indian states are which you should visit.

So it was the April'13, when I reached Chennai at 4:30 in the morning and exactly after four hours, I was at the campus of L&T construction. I still remember every moment of my first day during the internship and I could have penned down them all, but here I want to state about a thing I observed during my internship, which perhaps I would have never observed otherwise.

Unlike other interns in the organisation, I was given an option about selecting my project. I was asked either to carry out my project at the office at Chennai, about creating a new plan, or else, I could visit a few sites of L&T constructions and discuss with the workers employed there, the various work related issues. I selected the second option, not because I liked this project more, but simply because I felt this would be different from what my friends were doing. Little did I know then, that this decision would change my view towards life. For the first few weeks, I stayed at Chennai to gather information about the various activities carried out at the sites and the work culture after which my actual work of site visit and gathering information was to commence. Onsite internship gives you an opportunity to know the denziens and their problems.

L&T Construction, Power Transmission and Distribution division, where I was posted had its constructions being carried out at various locations. One of the sites of the division was involved in the Rural Electrification projects, which involved construction of substation and transmission lines at the deep interiors of the country, i.e. in those villages of India, which still have no electricity. I had to also visit these villages as a part of my project. To make my tour easier, I was asked to visit nearby sites, and all these rural electrification sites were located in West Bengal. I reached the head office of my first site on May 14, where I had to stay and visit the nearby villages where the works were being carried out. Next morning I was taken to the first location of my project. I was accompanied by two officers deputed at the project sites. I was really thrilled during my journey towards my first destination, not just because it was the real beginning of the project, but also because this was the first time I was visiting a village. I remember all crystal clear, it was a 1 hour 15 minutes ride.

Although I had expected that the life there would be different from ours, (I had seen many movies), but I didn’t have an iota of idea that the life would be nowhere close to what we can assume, even in our wildest dreams. I got down near the construction site but the people near me asked me to remain inside the car stating that there was no place I could sit. And by no place I really mean no place. They told that they had arranged a meeting with the workers in the only school but, since the classes were being carried out then, hence we had to wait. After about half an hour when the classes were over, the officers accompanying me took the permission from the school authorities after which we went inside the only class room of the school. I was told that this was the best school in nearby localities, and the best place to sit. The school had a blackboard broken at the sides, a few pieces of chalks and cracked benches.

While interacting with the workers, I got to know a few things about them. Most of the workers there were of nearby localities and villages. Most of them stated that they did not complete even their primary education, and have been doing petty work since very tender age (Some even stated that they have been working since the age of ten). When we came out of the school campus, and were about to leave I saw a middle aged lady approaching us. She asked one of the officers accompanying me if they could hire her for any work. She said that she was ready to do any and everything, and that she would be satisfied by any minimum wage which they gave her.

Unfortunately, the officer did not have any work to offer her and she had to leave but the pain in her eyes was clearly visible. Well, I am quite sure that she did not mean the minimum wage as specified by the government, but even if it was she would’ve happily accepted it. Then it meant that she was ready to do any work for a monthly wage equal to the amount spend for a small get together of (unemployed) students, or to buy a party wear with nice accessories, in this Shining India.

I visited many other similar sites, just to find similar scenarios. Most of the villages lacked any source of fresh water, and many used water from the pond (that they used to bathe) for cooking purposes. The over congested houses and immense poverty prevalent cannot, in fact, be described on paper. As a part of my project I had to interview the workers to find the constraints (if any) in safety compliance, but meeting these people I felt that they perhaps didn’t even think for safety. Perhaps the Maslow’s hierarchal theory is incorrect; they actually didn’t have any time to think for their security needs, as their basic needs were primarily to be fulfilled.

People state that internships are eye openers for students, and I could not have found a better eye opener. I witnessed the gap between the two India’s which people often talk about. I observed the government’s efforts to bring both of them at par with each other, and I realised that this distance is too huge to be parted soon.

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