Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Mirage called “Internship”

     The dream of every person, either staying in their homeland or venturing out of their homes, is to get a nice decent job. The concept of Internship in the US is a major step towards attaining your dreams. Most of the times these internships are converted into full times positions, fairly sooner than expected.

     I started my search with the same goal in mind. With the market the way it is, getting a phone call for a position was highly unexpected. After months of dismay of not being able to get an interview call also, I decided it is time to look for openings within the university or maybe even back in India for the summer. Surprisingly, I did get a call from a reputed automotive company to set up an interview date.

     The phone interview went well and I was expecting more calls from them. But none came my way. I was to accept the bitter truth that I might not be able to secure a position in this company. However, on the brighter side, I had not received any communication from them saying I do not fit the job. After a lot of emails, they told me I might have got through to the second round. The second round of interview was unscheduled. I was not prepared. The phone rang and the interview began.  I have no idea what I said during the call, but both the interviewer and I ended up having a nice long conversation and he said I might be in. But he wanted to talk to his peers to confirm the position.

     The next day was a long wait. Seconds felt like eons and my frustration was visible to my friends. I was walking like a caged beast, roaming about the corridors of the school with no sense of direction but still confined in space and thought. All I wanted was one damned call. And finally, I did get it. But to my luck, the company wanted to conduct another round of interview the next day. I was asked to call a conference number of the company at 4pm. The last conference call I had, came to my mind.

     It was a call from another automotive leader, Cummins. After two rounds of interviews, the technical department of Cummins wanted to talk to me. Six people were on the phone. Shooting questions at me at will. I felt like I was a target in an AK47 shooting range. I did not want a repeat of this call again. I could not screw up.

     3.55pm the next day. I called in early. 5minutes. It is a hell lot of time when you are the interviewee. Finally a click sound at 3.58pm, but not a word spoken. Another sound and I was sure they were there. Then the greetings followed by talks which made me feel I know those two people for ages. I asked myself is this a formality? Why isn't anyone asking me questions? Have I dialed the correct number? Then one interviewer said, “Hey, It’s time to pick my kids from school. Hope to see you here soon, Amith.” I did not know how to react. Was it a job offer? Was it a casual way of telling good bye? My questions were answered with just one word, “Congrats”.

     All I had to do now was to wait for the HR department to send me an offer letter. A call from the HR revealed another bitter truth. There was a problem in my application. I was asked to fly to the work place the coming Monday for another round of interview. The email that evening confirmed that it was not just 1 interview but in fact 3 on the same day. To top it all, I was supposed to fly at 5 am and come back by 6pm the same day.

D-day : 04/11/2011

     A cold shower at 2am - The excitement, the nervousness and the anxiety. A hope to look good, feel good and to do good. But the turn of events were different than expected. The honking cab driver made me forget the music player I had and the book I was supposed to take. I reached the airport earlier than expected. Damn, what do I do for 2 hours? I was the first to check in. The security personnel found something malicious in my bag. What could it be? Was I carrying something I did not know about? After a long wait alone in the room with a sense of being seen but unable to see, I was told it was just “Standard Operating Procedures”. Really? I decided against having an argument with the security guard. As I sat onto the waiting chair, another earthquake hit Japan. What a start to the day!!

     I reached Detroit 5mins later than expected. That meant I had 10mins to catch the connecting flight now. A look at the display screen told me all I had to do in the 10mins was to cross 80 gates. I reached just as the gates were being closed. I dwelled upon the turn of events over the past few hours in the 15 minute flight. I decided to take control of the next couple of hours instead of being a sheep following a herd, like I had done all morning. A possible vicissitude to my life.

     Back to Kalamazoo airport at 3pm. The flight was at 5.30. Not even a store to buy a book to read or to kill time. I was cursing myself and the cab driver. Connecting flight from Detroit was at 8 pm. I would have been surprised if on that day, the flight took off at 8. As expected a delay of 1.5hrs. Sleep, hunger, exhaustion  were all being overpowered by one thing.-The solace of a good interview.

Today : 05/20/2011

     As I await the approval from the college authorities to start working, I relive all the moments of this dream journey. All that is required to make this mirage into reality is a signature from the professor. Would he sign on it? Will the water-hole I see be an Oasis or remain a Mirage?

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