Aman Agasi is a 4th year student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Read on as he recounts his experience of working with ITC during the summers of 2016.
ITC is an Indian conglomerate which was established in 1910 as the Imperial Tobacco Company of India. Today its diversified business includes five segments: Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), Hotels, Paperboards & Packaging and Agri Business & Information Technology. ITC is one of India’s foremost multi-business enterprise with a market capitalisation of US $ 40 billion and a turnover of US $ 8 billion.
For the summer internship program the projects could be targeted at a specific problem like the removal of air bubbles in the refill of a gel point pen floated this season. Others could be loosely held around optimising of a plant as a whole like the one requiring the increase of efficiency of the chemical recovery plant of the paper factory.
The project could conform to your specialisation or it may lie somewhere outside your sphere of study like the one I dealt with in the paper boards and speciality paper division of ITC. The wood required for the manufacturing of paper is stored in the unsheltered wood yards. Due to large standing time it lost most of its moisture content which negatively affected the pulp yield. The job was to devise a method to retain the moisture in wood. I had to dwell into fields alien to me, like the morphology of wood as I am a student of mechanical engineering.
This is one stack of wood containing 2500 tonnes of wood. 60 such stacks were maintained at all times in the inventory
The biggest challenge was the size of the inventory which held one lac to three lac tonnes of wood. All the wood yards taken together spread over a sprawling 35 acres of land. The rapid rate of moisture loss made all the corrective measures futile. I approached the problem by devising certain proactive and reactive measures. The proactive measures checked the moisture loss from the first day of wood unloading in the yard while the reactive operations aimed at replenishment of the lost moisture at the time of use. The scale, economic feasibility, available resource management were the primary fields of deliberation for each solution put.
The best part about an ITC intern is that the process is proficiently organised and impeccably coordinated. The show begins in the month of April with the ‘mind over matter’ induction programme held at Bangalore. Rather lucrative, the first moment of pride was felt when we got a deck of business cards with our names on it. This is around the time we were provided the project brief and the location.
At the time of joining we were first summoned at the headquarters where we got to interact with the senior most members of the division. We were then inducted into the factory and made familiar with all the departments and the technical intricacies of industrial processes.
The reviews were held every two weeks in the eight weeks internship period. The first review was confined to the department and so was the third. The mid review was attended by the senior management at the divisional headquarters.
This review was particularly important as it provided some inquisitive opinion about the approach. The system is such that final review is presided over by the Unit Head and only on his recommendation does the project qualify for a review at the headquarters.
Irrespective of the outcome, the project is always enriching in terms of value added. The factories deploy advanced management practices which are inexcusably adhered to. The organisational setup would not fail to escape your notice. Witnessing the colossal industrial setup at Bhadrachalam was most certainly amusing.
The blue pill
We worked along with our ‘project guide’. The system encourages the manager to share the responsibility of the project with the internee. This association plays an important role in deciding the overall outcome of the project.
We were also assigned a mentor who was a person of higher authority in the plant and assisted in pushing things through. The work culture was supreme and the people of factory were cooperative and recognised our cause. As an unspoken rule no one would ever refuse to clarify doubts regarding the technicalities of their field of work. You can reach out to anybody in the factory for assistance.
We were entitled to buy books for expanding the reach in the field of study and visit other factories if need be.
Without being too optimistic, the PPO conversion rate is somewhere between 45-55%. It is predicted that the figure would at least touch the upper bound owing to the discontinuation of the practice of visiting colleges for placements by ITC. The initial package is 19 lpa. People getting a PPO almost always end up in the division they interned in. In PSPD, the factory locations are very far off from the main cities. However, chances are that you would be relocated to the Divisional Headquarters in Hyderabad after a year or two. After that you will be sent to the factory on requirement. Consequently, the job might require a lot of travelling and hence a compromised work-life balance.
The projects given in internships are such that if the solution is found then it could generate millions for the company. Hence, you would be entrusted with major roles and responsibilities. Your credit worthiness would keep your head above water. Scan the depth of the internet for doing the literature survey. Be cautious of your claims and have strong conviction in your findings.
Benchmark your solutions with the other producers in the industry. Try to find references where the technology has been implemented and runs successfully. If assigned with increasing the efficiency of the plant then start by checking whether all the machines are operating at their maximum capacity.
It might take you a while to scale you thinking up to their intimidating level of production. Thus, try to quantify the benefits of the proposed solution because ultimately it’s the crispy green stash that moves things.
Avoid doing things like this in the factory
The recruitment is a day long process. The day begins with a presentation by ITC. The first shortlisting is done by evaluation of a Group Discussion. It is followed by two stages of interviews; the latter is taken by the senior management.
A group discussion is conducted among groups of 8 or 9 students. A page long case study is presented where the stance of discussion could be on a logical analysis of the situation, a moral/ethical dilemma or a many other debatable things. The one which I participated in was an account of an air crash incident which had a handful of survivors. 20 items were to be arranged in the order of priority that the survivors must carry in order to get out of the forest safe. For cracking a GD try to read the case study as fast as you can and initiate the dialogue. However, there are no brownie points for speaking more than others. Speak little but reasonable. Explain your constructive in an assertion followed by reason format. Don’t dominate the talk rather try to bring the bench on a common ground while safe guarding your own points.
The interview focuses on technical competence more than anything else. As a rule of thumb you should have at least two subjects (of your own branch) thoroughly prepared for the interview. They would test you only on the subjects that you claim to be proficient in. Guys in Mech could prepare from Thermo, Fluids, Solid Mechanics, etc.
Prepare a precise resume which highlights primarily your technical endeavours and also glides over the extra curriculars. The resume would be discussed head to toe. Try to steer the course of the interview in the direction of earlier internships/ projects that you have done. The longer you stay on those topics the better it fares you.
The HR people may ask their few trick questions testing your willingness to take up a job in the remote cities and give up on the city life. Or whether it would hurt you conscience to produce tobacco which is ‘injurious to health’ at which point ideally you should cross your legs over and light up right in from of him… Okay leave that part out. Or they could ask you a million different questions which suit their fancy but know that originality is the key.
If you have an internship story you’d like to share, get in touch as firstname.lastname@example.org