The Perfect Internship

I agree that I do get easily moved by kind gesture, and many times I find myself recollecting some things for longer than its impact on my life. But a month long internship experience that I had during my college is something that I fondly recollect even after a year of its completion. The  images of those days at internship flash in my mind  these days since I am on a hunt for job openings. And to begin with an allegation, the Perfect Relations office in Mumbai should be held guilty for a grave offence.

Or let me spare the other departments in the office and focus my allegation towards the Digital PR team that I was a part of as an intern. This was a closely-knit team with an energetic spirit. They may have come from different walks of life with varied experiences, and maybe the only common string between them may have been that all of them braved the horrendous travel ordeal in Mumbai to arrive at office. The ones to be charged with the offence me go by these names – Nicole, Purva, Yuvraj, Ankit, Vishal, Tanvi, and Sushant. Amit Sir can be let off with minor charges as he graced our college once as a guest lecturer to redeem himself. And I request for the severest punishment for Urvashi for reasons too many to  mention. (Surnames have been withheld to protect their reputation.)

Their offence – providing me with the best internship experience a student could have asked for and spoiling me to such a degree that I cannot imagine a better work environment than the one they created for a stranger like me.

The background of the internship is as important as the internship itself. This was a phase when I, like other students from college, was on a relentless quest to get the first industry internship. So much was the desperation that I was mentally prepared to make-do with even an average opportunity or less. Turned out that landing up with this internship (for which Urvashi had been instrumental; but she should still be charged) was not the only lucky thing to have happened, my luck would introduce me to some of the best people I have come across.

I was a studious observer of their ability to strike a great balance between work and fun, the success at each supplementing the other. While I came across admirable professionals who knew their job well and worked to excel at what they do, I also witnessed their vibrant side marked by friendly banter and mutual care. Tracking the social media meant that each of them had come across a hilarious meme or some ridiculous activity by the Indian users of social media. Loud laughters were interspersed with pronounced silence as they went about their way in getting their work done, possibly driven by individual aims of earning for their families or progressing in the industry. They weren’t all too consumed by their work or incessantly bogged down by the pressures of work load. They always made time to inquire if the interns were comfortable, often advising me to leave office early and visit a doctor when my blocked nose made me sound like a breathless toad. Taking work from them was more like helping them in playing a sport rather than sharing burden. They greatly appreciated the little work I could do as an intern, and even today I would say that what I did for the team fell way short of what I gathered from their affection.

In a city like Mumbai. there are difficulties posed by travelling in local trains, harsh weather, rampant crime, cramped spaces and people at times literally trampling over you. I believe part of what keeps a Mumbaikar going is the mutual effort of colleagues and friends in ensuring that the hours of work in the office leave them refreshed and energised for the fresh set of challenges on their way home. While work can be very stressful at times, it can be diluted with some helping hands with genuine care in the well-being of each other. Looking at the positive attitude of the team, I would often feel bad myself for not being able to match with their enthusiasm in life and at work.

Any cynic, including the one in myself, would joke that this sounds like some PR move for a PR agency. Disregarding the poor joke, this post is less about the organisation than its ability to attract such great people into their work ethic. Or maybe it’s the ability of the current employees in the team in bringing out the best in an otherwise less enthused member joining them. I wouldn’t know if this culture that I grew fond of runs beyond the Digital PR team and is all pervasive in the organisation. But this is something I wish every young, aspiring communications person comes across. The level of respect amongst the team members is exemplary and something that needs to be cultivated in a world which is marked by arrogance and harmful slander. Being in the midst of a team like this one would compensate for the headaches of surviving in a chaotic and help sport a strong mind and a gentle heart – both at work and outside. In this respect, to use a PR jargon, this agency has certainly gathered some ‘earned’ PR.

Beyond a few tricks of the trade, what I learnt from the internship was that it is, after all, human beings that make up a workplace.  All goals at work, though translated into statements and monetary figures, are met with ultimately to make some other beings happy who have a stake in the goal. And while financial incentives may bring delight towards the end of the month and carry on for a few days, humans are innocent beings that absorb happiness at an given moment. Nothing is more frightening than the fear of grief. The rattling of the keyboard keys in the office will always be dwarfed by the crackling laughter of employees. A sharp mind at work will always need a tender heart to deal with individuals. And many times, the most expensive meal bought from ones salary may fall short of the gratification one receives from sharing a meal with a great team.

And while I am yet to experience the former, I can boast about having lunch with a bunch of people who, possibly without their knowing, left me with some food for thought.

The Parting Gift

My parting gift from the team at the end of my internship

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