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Summer 2022

Summer Diaries: ITC KITES Internship

September 8, 2022
- Kushagra Agarwal

ITC is one of the firms of India, the wet dream for anyone who’s in the industrial branches, one who sees massive dreams go into the 1.5L stipend and aspirations with the Day-1 hopes, and one which breaks hundreds of them. This summer, I worked at ITC as an intern, which I landed through the fabled internship season. Being a firm that focuses most of its energy in various industries, ITC values any talent in tech that it can acquire from any source.

Preparing for the stipend

ITC follows a three step recruitment procedure in the internship:

  1. Resume Shortlisting: The company gets our pretty resumes from over Channeli, which it processes and shortlists. The exact criteria, while unknown, probably involves CGPA and projects to a large extent. People with projects in core groups are abundant in the shortlisted candidates, though many with coding projects are also shortlisted.

  2. Group Discussion: With our extremely chill and not-at-all stressful Online™ internship season, the GDs faced an online touch as well. We were given topics which involved choosing a person out of a group to become a leader/to get company benefits (depending on group to group), then asked to speak up individually in an order on which person we choose and to justify it. The format has reverted to the traditional GD format this year, though. The standard tips for GDs apply: one must stay to the point and be clear with what they’re saying. Very importantly, the choice one makes must be justifiable in more than we should do what the system says we should.

  3. Two rounds of interviews: Finally, selected students are called for the interviews. Unlike the standard Tech + HR, the two rounds tend to be divided into levels of management for the company. That is to say, the second round is taken by someone in the firm who’s at a higher position than the people in the first round. What is asked in these rounds is extremely dependent on your luck in what panel you receive. A standard advice I’ve seen people give is to prepare core topics of your branch, as the interviewer tends to be a person related to your branch.This is not always the case though. In my interview, I was asked 0 questions that related to core. It was geared largely towards current affairs and solutions to technical problems along with my projects. Hence it is difficult for anyone to pinpoint what will be asked in the interview.

A general advice I would like to give to anyone preparing for the company is to be well versed in general affairs along with the core subjects and projects, as the company focuses on holistic talent.

Projects at ITC

For a little background, the ITC KITES (Knowledge, Initiative & Talent Excellence Series) programme hires in two segments: Technical interns (from IITs and NITs) and Management interns (from IIMs and other management colleges). This is to say that the role one will get in ITC will be largely technical if you’re applying from IIT Roorkee. It is not ‘supply chain’, it is not ‘management’, it’s Techno-managerial. ITC has multiple divisions: Foods, personal care, printing, agribusiness, paperboards, education, devotional, etc. and an intern is assigned to one of those.

All KITES interns are given problems that relate to a certain part of the ITC framework, and expect creative and cheap solutions which can be employed to rectify them. These look like optimising production lines to get higher efficiencies, working with specific points on the line which serve as bottlenecks, analysing the nationwide data for new product launches, or setting up automatic lines. The work is 90% in one of the ITC factories all around India, or 10% in one of the offices. The project you get, again, depends upon your luck: which division you’re allotted, what projects are available to them and what part of your CV interests them. Projects assigned can be absolutely random at times and pinpointed to your CV in other cases.

The common strand of all projects is the fact that a lot of work is needed to even scratch the surface of what the project expects and that it requires a lot of technical based creativity, in that one must be able to ideate solutions and defend those solutions to their fullest, knowing how they’ll affect the (usually industrial) problem that they’re working upon and work to implement a pilot of said solution.

Life at ITC

With the amount of work that ITC requires, it provides equally fine rewards. One’s journey with the internship starts off with the Mind over Matter session, where all interns get together in a 5-star ITC hotel, and delve in the royal experience for two days straight. Obviously, the travel and stay is paid for. More than the stay, the great part about the two days remains the interaction that fosters with a bunch of around 50 clueless college students being forced to interact.

The experience after this session, though, depends (drumroll) on your luck. You may be asked to work in an office or a factory. Office interns get Saturdays and Sundays off, while factory workers have to be present every Saturday and in special (r. most) cases even Sundays. The places of stay are usually ITC Guest Houses (not hotels, sadly) and offer nice 3-star accommodation. Though if you’re unlucky (or lucky, however you perceive) you’ll have to share a small room with another person.

The location of your factory/office (again random) also determines how often you can go out for fun, and how fun that is. It is to say, fun for someone in the Haridwar plant is having an occasional Sunday off and going to the Pentagon mall, while fun for someone in a Bangalore office is, well, fun. The people you work with also depend on the division and project that you get. Some managers are supportive and chill, while some live far away from where you have to execute your project, limiting your interaction and keeping it work-only.

If you’re lucky, you’ll have co-interns at the same location. Having co-interns can help work together, cry together and have fun together.

Before you apply

As said before, ITC is an extremely demanding (in many ways toxic) work environment which calls for technical ideation and expertise. If you apply, keep in mind the technical aspect that you’ll need to fulfill. The most satisfied people I found in the internship were people who were genuinely interested in industries and industrial work. Do not apply if you’re looking for management experience, as it applies after the technical aspect. What this means is that once one is done with the technical ideation and is ready to form a prototype, the preparation of the prototype and the testing related to that prototype involve your management skills. The deliverables however, do not involve the managerial goals of the company directly.

That said, ITC is one of the companies which offers a lot of freedom in what one wants to do to achieve their deliverables. Changes to the production lines are welcomed, even encouraged. KITES interns hold the power to run tests that can even span days. However, one needs to give their everything to understanding and working upon the project, and people who do that and are able to convince everyone that they did that, achieve the PPO. By the way, The company puts a lot of emphasis on the PPO, with sessions on how you can achieve one in the two-day Mind over Matter and constant reminders telling you this is the ‘final reward’ for the internship.

Concluding Statements

Deep Behal, a senior in Debating Society, in his intern diary, said that “the primary purpose of an internship is to find out what you ‘don’t’ want to do in life.” This belief of his is something that I share with him. With the experience, I understood that Techno-managerial was something of a ‘don’t’ for me.

To anyone who’s preparing for ITC, prepare hard, but remember to think about stuff that’s not just core. Think GK, and think why you’re prepping for the internship. If the goal is limited to 1.5L, I would advise against going here. However, if your goal is to work in a high pressure environment and deliver solutions that you can actively see working, I would wholeheartedly advise you to work hard to get in, and show your interests when in the interview.

To anyone who’s not landing interns, please remember that a late intern in a field you like is probably better than an early intern in a field that you might not like.

PS: If you’ve landed the intern and are experiencing delays in getting an offer letter or project brief or anything, fret not. In my experience clubbed with my co-interns, ITC can be very slow at times (It’s Sep 4 as I’m writing this and PPOs are yet to be announced so).