To aim for a corporate career is like taking a leap of faith. For every student, sustaining and learning from early experiences can be rewarding.
It was just another day in Mumbai — the usual rush during the office time, people chasing public modes of transport and the jammed roads. As a newcomer, this was utter madness to me. I was this wide-eyed Alice, lost in the wonderland of India’s business capital. How on earth will I survive here? It was my second day in Mumbai and the first day of my internship. I was in front of this huge building of a top asset-management company. With terribly shaky hands, I filled the details in the trainee register and pressed the lift button. The suave and swanky lobby, to which the lift door opened, jolted me. Suddenly it struck me that this is the real deal. Here I am, a collegiate, an absolute novice facing the corporate world, all alone. I could feel my heart sinking.Odd jobs
With trepid footsteps, I went inside the manager’s cabin. After a few rounds of introduction with my immediate team members, I was given a nice corner desk to settle down. Soon my task list shaped up — fetching print-outs, taking minutes of the meeting, ordering coffee for everybody during meetings, filing papers and miscellaneous tasks. Of course, it was part of an intern’s journey.
The ‘real-time’ odd jobs absolutely bemused me. Oh, how blind I was to the values those jobs inculcated in me! Well then, days turned into weeks and I just habituated myself to office. I made friends at work, went for tea breaks to the nearby chai-wallah and relished the ‘vadapavs’ of Juhu Chowpatty. The skyscrapers, jammed roads and the odd jobs at work became a part of my daily life.
Soon, the tenure of my internship ended, and with a heavy heart, I bade farewell to my colleagues. While waiting at the airport for my flight, I opened the sealed envelope that my manager handed me before leaving. A card slipped out, it was a farewell card. I was touched by the efforts taken by my teammates to write a few kind words for me. Inside the envelope was the internship completion certificate and surprisingly a letter from the manager applauding my good conduct. Those days of meticulous paper filing, precise minutes of the meetings and punctual timing, inculcated some key values in me. I realised the power of an intern to interact freely with everyone, within the organisation and across all levels. Probably the most humble one — an intern never deters from doing that extra work. That day, what I was taking back with me was not just a certificate, but the proof of my ability to handle any situation and build a career that I wanted to.Real life
Once back home, days started moving rapidly and I earned my management degree. It was now time for me to get a real job. The tremendous tension of appearing for the first job interview, made me jittery. For days together I used to practise in front of the mirror — introducing myself to the imagined interviewer and answering questions, drafted by me. When the D-day arrived, surprisingly I felt less nervous. Probably the Q&A session with my reflection cured me of the fear. I cracked the interview and got my first job with a multi-national company. Thus began my professional journey.
The quarterly target was set and I embarked on the mission. Steep deadlines, increasing targets and cut-throat competition started making me nauseous. It’s only when you face the corporate world do you recognise the numerous hardships that you need to overcome. To make matters worse, there was overwhelming peer pressure, and the policy followed by my team was to ‘get your work done by hook or by crook’. There were days when I broke down and my manager used to smile and ask me to save my ‘crocodile tears’ for my mother. Nothing comes easy in this world. You need to fight till you get it right.Learning never stops
Today, when I reflect on those initial days of struggle, I realise that every experience taught me something. Working in a new city, away from my home town, taught me how to adapt. It was exceedingly difficult for me to leave my folks behind and live with strangers, but then I learned how to accept changes. Those odd jobs I did during the internship taught me how to be patient and precise. Filling thousands of papers is no child’s play. You need undivided attention, for if you miss one, you need to start all over again. Adhering to deadlines, collaborating with teammates, being responsible are some of the key things I learned during my first job.
Every student goes through this tumultuous phase in his/her life but the key lies in sustaining and learning from it. Life gives us numerous opportunities; to utilise them is our responsibility. In the end you are always rewarded. The trust of my manager, new friends and rich learning (challenges faced at work) are some of the priceless awards that I have won which has made my journey meaningful.
The author is business development manager, Hellointern.com.