Trials and Error

My first experience into the internship world.

What it is to step into a workplace? My notions came from the limited representations in films and daily soaps.

I knew I have to work under someone someday. Striving hours for a monthly paycheque that runs the house- is the fate of the service sector. I did know know much about it from family too- dad is a businessman, and grandfather was an IAS. Mother owned a polytechnique back in the day, and grandmother was an entrepreneur in her own right- she taught painting classes and held exhibitions for handicrafts at Dilli Haat.

I heard some harsh work experience tales from cousins, but wanted to taste the poison to know its venom!

So, after the first year got over, I asked my college OSD/Dean where I could start interning. She referred an advertising agency to me, based in Okhla. I went for my interview the next day after my exams got over, and got selected.

The next day, I reached on time, and filled the entry and exit register. I entered to see, that my new office was a small working space. I looked around and saw boxes of liquor bottles lined up on the top of a shelf! I was shocked out of my wits.

A Brahmin girl by birth and deeds, I knew nobody in my immediate family who consumed alcohol. I messaged my friend, who was asking me about how my first day was looking, and told her what I felt. She said — It is fine for the corporate world. This is not an exclusive sight to just this office!

I could see just one desktop. That, I learnt, was for the accountant. Seeing none for myself, I wondered where I would work! I was told, I had to get my own. I had one, so I was ready for it.

I saw all men around me- my two bosses who were the founders, the accountant and two others- one of whom had interviewed me. He was the subordinate of the founder, and the other one was probably his subordinate.

My grandmother had bewared me of the corporate space- and all of them seemed near home. Her words were- men of the middle age can never be trusted, especially if you are a young lady! As I silently prayed to God for all these fears to be unfounded, I heard the giggles of girls in the hallway. They were also interning here, and were recommended by my OSD only, as she taught their batch in another college.

We had a combined briefing session where I learnt that my two new colleagues were in the second year, and I soon called them Didi. The office sat for lunch together at 1.30 in the conference room, watching football in the ongoing FIFA time. The rest of the time, I read To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and sought permission to leave when time elapsed.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Two days on, I got to know my senior interns were leaving. Their internship was over, and they gave a doughnut party to the office before leaving. I stared at a lonely time again, as I paced up the work.

I joined after the weekend, to hear another girl in the office! I thought, it must be another intern. But she was a co-worker, and looked strict yet confident with her conversations with the bosses and colleagues. We started talking related to work, and slowly I saw a bubbly side in this young girl of 25. There was a lot to connect us- the bond of femininity first, and then her roots in Kanpur, which is my maternal home. We would evade the chilling AC temperature and go sit on the staircase, talking and knowing each other better. We also visited an office space opposite to ours, where an NRI man with white hair offered us some cool refresher and told about his ventures in animation and motivation. Our bosses had a different story to tell, and told us not to visit the office for our safety.

Office became friendly- I started working on a WHO report on child rights, teenage pregnancy and female contraception, and also took up contraception research for a company, giving pitch ideas for their advertising. It was soon time for college to reopen, and for me to leave this new yet temporary home.

I stared at this slip of employee birthdays, and felt bad that my name was not written. It gave me a much needed realisation- I did not work here. I could come back in the fall break, or seek a permanent role post graduation.

My first boss will always be memorable for me- he intrigued my interest in female rights. Seeing my work, he referred me to his wife, who was an economics professor in an international tie-up venture university. We worked for hours over phone after office, and finally she flew abroad to present our work at Lancaster University. Oxford University Press agreed to publish our thesis, and we worked harder to collect statistics. She also roped me in for a chapter to be published in IGI Global publishing house.

And, I have not looked back since. Associating with different internships, honing my potential in other spheres of communication, and writing on different topics is now organic to me. But I look back fondly to those simpler days, where bosses doubled up as teachers and friends, assumed the role of mentors, and mostly taught me that middle aged men are not always dangerous! I wanted to revere them like father figures, and I could. I still do.

Sir’s wife returned from London, and couriered me a nice cloth material she shopped for me from London. When I gave my farewell party at the office, I made sure one packed box reached her. I have visited her place, lunched with her, worked and laughed, and cherish how Sir and Ma’am mentored my baby steps into the field I want to give my life to — Gender Studies.

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Gauri Joshi

Gauri Joshi

Writer.

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