Bittersweet Goodbye to India

Written by  September 21, 2012

As Hunar prepares to head home, she reflects on best practices for finding an internship abroad.

“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure that it is worth watching.” - Unknown

The last day has finally arrived of my three-month journey to India this summer. From attending a wedding, travelling, shopping, eating, riding rickshaws, ATVing, interning, learning photography and painting, partying and relaxing, to spending time with family and friends, these three months are by far one of my most memorable summers.

Although there have been moments of pure frustration—being conned by a robber, hearing 40-year-old men with “I’m a Barbie” ringtones, being cheated at a nail salon, facing corruption at the Indian embassy office and being stalked by strangers—India has been a country full of surprises both good and bad.  After all, nothing is perfect.

My internship period has finally come to an end. Ogilvy and Mather provided me with an amazing learning opportunity every marketing student dreams about. Working as a digital strategy intern taught me about how brands operate in India and what kind of digital programs and ad campaigns Indian brands are looking for. I worked on over seven projects during my five-month internship period. I worked hard and on multiple projects at once because they knew I was only there for five weeks. But I loved it. I wanted to take everyday as a learning opportunity and completed all projects to the best of my ability. I was glad I was getting to work on real projects instead of filing papers like some internships. (I was also offered a full-time job while I was working there, which I would have taken on but I still have two years of my undergraduate degree to complete.)

The idea of interning abroad is an experience I would recommend to any individual who is willing to step out of their comfort zone. I was only working in the office for five weeks, but I felt that a minimum two-month position is required to learn. It takes you about a week to settle into work and a few weeks to get to know everyone at the office—so by the time you start to get to know your co-workers it’s time for you to leave.  

Next summer because I want to work abroad in another country, preferably somewhere unfamiliar since India was familiar to me in terms of language and culture. I think it is important to take small steps when it comes to working abroad. If one ends up choosing to go with an organization, these tips are not as important, but if you are planning on going alone, baby steps are required.

It has been a bittersweet goodbye. I don’t know want to leave India but at the same time, I do miss my family and friends. Being in university, we don’t realize that we only have four years to be able to take months and months out of our daily routines to try everything. Once we graduate and start working, most of us (hopefully not) won’t have the opportunity to take three to four months to go travel. This is our chance to explore the world and try anything and everything. So why don’t we take that opportunity?  

My recommendations for those who want to intern abroad:

Find a substantive internship. Make sure you work with a company where they won’t make you photocopy papers and make phone calls. You would be surprised how many companies do that. So be frank during your interview that you are there to learn and work.

Pick a country that you are familiar with. If you were going to study or volunteer abroad, this wouldn’t be as big of an issue, but interning abroad is definitely challenging in a country where you would know no one and if you are not going with an organization.

Step out of your comfort zone. If you are not willing to do that then interning abroad is probably not the right decision for you. You really have to put yourself out there and be confident. Most people choose to intern abroad with an organization that provides them with all the resources in terms of finding a job and accommodation for you and usually have other interns from abroad who would be working with you.  If you are travelling for the first time, going with an organization would be your best bet.

Go out and explore. Life is too short. Live it to the fullest and indulge in your passions. That’s all I have to say. Now, the countdown begins to my exchange semester in Singapore for five months at the end of December. Stay tuned!

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Published in Work Abroad Blogs
Hunar Chandhok

Hunar Chandhok is a third-year BBA student studying at the Schulich School of Business in Toronto. She interned in Mumbai, India, at Ogilvy and Mather as a marketing intern, then hopped over to Singapore where she is currently on exchange. Follow Hundar to see what it’s like to study in Singapore.

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