Watch Out!
Student Media
Body of IITR
About Guide Get Involved

Summer 2019

Summer Diaries: ITC Limited

July 30, 2019
- Mohit Aneja

Where & What: What I worked on during the intern?

I was allotted a project in the Paperboards and Speciality Papers (PSPD) division of ITC. The projects given to the KITES interns are quite versatile, from highly technical projects related to your branch to research work in a completely different domain. One of my co-interns from Mechanical Engineering was given a project on safety. My project was more on the technical side - based on heat and mass transfer, and performance assessment of cooling towers and heat exchangers. The objectives of the project were:

i) To assess the performance of cooling towers and heat exchangers in Utilities and Soda Recovery Section and to increase the efficiency of heat exchangers by 5%.

ii) To reduce the freshwater consumption as makeup water by 20%.

The scope of the project was a total of 6 cooling towers and 6 heat exchangers inside the plant. I had to visit all the cooling towers and observe any visual flaws during the operation and compare it with the benchmark practices. My work included talking to a lot of people to understand the operation of the cooling towers and corresponding condensers, research work to look for new technologies, analyzing the data obtained, thinking and brainstorming on new ideas to save water and increase efficiency. I was given enough freedom to take my project in whatever direction I wanted to - which I used to explore new technology in the field. I got an experimental set-up fabricated based off of a research paper with the help of engineers in the plant. The plant engineers are highly eager to implement any good idea in order to improve the operations in the plant. Before applying: Where/how did you get the idea of interning there? ITC is one of the first companies to visit the campus but I did not have any plans to seriously sit for the process. I had a decent CGPA so I thought of giving it a shot. I had an altogether different view of the interview process (assuming it to be one of the toughest technical interviews on campus) but this myth was busted only in my own interview!

Making it there:

The process starts with a lengthy ‘Mind Over Matter’ form consisting of around 6-7 essay type questions focusing on your personality, followed by resume shortlisting. Generally, people with higher CGPA are given preference while shortlisting. Not only this, having something unique on your resume will help you getting shortlisted. It doesn’t matter if the previous work done isn’t related to what ITC does. My previous internships were based on Python development in Options trading, and basic level research work in alternative finance. After this, a psychometric test is conducted to check if the values of the candidate align with that of the company. The psychometric test consists of about 35 questions, with 20 unique questions and the rest being a repetition, but in a different form/language. They want to test your consistency in answering the questions about yourself. There is no right answer to those questions. Just be consistent with your answers throughout the test.

Group Discussion:

This is followed by a GD round - with groups of 9-10 people each. You are handed a case study written on a paper and given 20 minutes to discuss and arrive at a conclusion. The time limit is strict and they will ask you to leave immediately after the time is over, whether or not your group arrived at a conclusion or not. Try to make logical arguments in this round. Don’t speak just to speak. It may backfire if someone counters your statement with a good argument. Don’t keep mum during the whole round either, which will surely remove you from the process. Listen carefully when others are speaking and find the right time to speak and agree to / counter the points that other people make. It will show that you are a good listener and you’re not just waiting to blabber your own points. Initiating the discussion by quickly reading the case study is always a plus. Only 2-3 people make it to the interview rounds after the group discussion.

Technical round + HR:

At last, two PI rounds are conducted. The first one is a lengthy round - with discussion on your favorite subject, fundamental questions on that subject. After this, you are asked a few questions based on your answers to questions in the Mind Over Matter form. Basic HR questions are also asked in this round. If you make it to the final round - which is mostly taken by people from the HR team of some division of ITC, you will be asked questions as to why you prefer ITC over other companies, your motive for joining and other HR questions. I was asked one technical question on heat exchangers in this round as well.

Turns out, the whole procedure is not about how technically sound you are when it comes to your branch subjects but it is more about aligning with the values of the company, and your seriousness in the previous internships/projects. Basically, the company doesn’t expect you to know anything beforehand because the projects are so diverse in nature that it will require you to study the subject from scratch during the internship. Hence they want someone who can grasp things quickly, can get things done - by convincing others and by taking the lead. Tip: A lot of questions are asked based on your resume, so be very precise and clear about what you’re writing in your resume. It would be good if you can prepare one subject of your choice before the interviews (just be very clear with the fundamentals - don’t dive into the technicalities of the subject). Also, prepare a 30 second and 1 minute summary of yourself for the “Tell me about yourself” question thrown at you as soon as you enter the interview room.

About the Place:


The PSPD division has 4 plants - Bhadrachalam, Kovai, Tribeni and Bollaram. Interns are generally sent to the Bhadrachalam since it is the biggest unit in terms of the size of operations. It is a remote town in Telangana, 6 hours from Hyderabad city via train. The factory consists of 7 humongous paper machines having lengths of about 300-400 metres each. This adds to the walking that you’d need to do to move from one part of the plant to the other.

Project Description:

The aim of the project was to assess the performance of cooling towers and to increase the efficiency of heat exchangers, and to save freshwater in the cooling towers - so work was to be done in a lot of different domains. The project required a fair bit of knowledge of heat and mass transfer principles, site visits, data analysis on Excel, chemistry of corrosion and scaling, research work to look for new technologies in the field, and management in terms of following up with a lot of people simultaneously (for data collection, process understanding, lab tests, machine visits, meetings). It would be good if you’re well familiar with Excel and PowerPoint. You may have to use Minitab and Statistical Quality Control techniques depending on the type of project. Learning the basics beforehand will help, although a formal workshop is conducted during the orientation session, before the internship, in the month of April.

Work Environment:


The work hours, officially, are 8:30 AM-5:30 PM but the interns rarely adhere to the schedule. Most of the times, we went to the plant during the office hours only since we had to meet a lot of people in the plant. At some point during the intern, when my work was only restricted to researching for new methods, I worked from my room. On an average you’d work 8-10 hours per day, but it extends depending on the proximity of the reviews with your guide and mentor. (as is the case with MTEs and ETEs in college). The sad part is that you have to work 6 days a week. The one day break is not sufficient to travel to any good places nearby. Most of the Sundays were underutilized by either sleeping the whole day or by visits to the local market. This was not the case for all the divisions, though- some other interns got a lot of chances to travel to beautiful places around their locations (especially the Bangalore peeps).

The people in the company (and the mill) are amazing to talk to, very supportive. Since a lot of help is required from the plant engineers related to your project, their supportive attitude makes them easily approachable. You may face a language barrier while communicating with some of the operators in the plant but even they know enough English for you to get your message across. You are allotted a guide and a mentor for the project. Both of them have some knowledge in the domain of the project and will help you to the best possible extent. You can easily approach your guide for any help on a daily basis and the mentor every week. Building a good rapport with both of them will help you tremendously.

The interns are well taken care of. The company provides for the accommodation and the food during the whole stay. The accommodation is in a decent guest house, with a dining hall which serves majorly South Indian food, although you can get custom dishes prepared, apart from the regular menu. The weather is something to hate about the place. It is extremely humid (owing to Godavari River nearby and steam releases in the plant) and hot during the months of May and June with temperatures reaching 48 degrees.

Summing up and Key Takeaways:

Overall, the two months of internship at ITC were the best two months in terms of learning. It added immensely to my pool of knowledge by enhancing my people skills, technical skills and management skills. The work culture at the company will definitely add professionalism to your work ethics. It is astonishing to see that even the simplest of decisions are taken with a lot of brainstorming, since each and every decision ultimately impacts the company’s profits. Not only the internship, the KITES orientation session in Bangalore is one of the best experiences one can have. The stay, the food and the level at which the interactions happen at the orientation is surely going to leave you spellbound.

Basically, the company expects the intern to look at the operations from a different perspective and suggest new and innovative solutions to the existing problems. The experience of KITES interns can vary significantly depending on which division they were allotted. The project work may be overwhelming at times but talking to your guide and mentor will surely give you a definite direction. Practicing for GDs with your batchmates will help you do better in the actual GDs. Read about the different divisions of ITC and the overall hierarchy before going to the interviews. All the best!