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First Day of an Internship Abroad

Hunar stands in front of a hotel in Mumbai.

First days of work are hard enough. But what happens when that first day is in Mumbai?

At 9:30 a.m. I was standing in an elevator with sweaty palms, nervously waiting to get to the 14th floor to start my first day of work in Mumbai at Ogilvy as a digital strategy intern. There were too many questions running into my head:

• Will the people be nice?
• What kind of work will I be doing? Will they just get me to photocopy papers and answer phone calls?
• Where will I sit? Who will I have lunch with?

The first few days of work were the worst. I didn’t know anyone and there was no one my age. My boss didn’t introduce me to any other co-workers or interns and I was found sitting on a desk without any training to start my first project for the company, which was developing a brand in India through social media initiatives.

The afternoon passed by and I still hadn’t spoken a word to anyone in the office. I had no idea what to say or what was right to say—I was just confused. I was worried that I wasn’t going to like the job and would end up quitting.

Each day was the same for the next three days. For those first few days, I was at the point where I was considering quitting and going back to Toronto. But then I thought to myself, “When will I ever get this opportunity again?” The only answer that came into my head was never! So I told myself that it was up to me to make the experience memorable. The experience would be what I would make of it.

So a few days later, while I was taking the elevator to the office, I recognized a few faces and started making conversation. Turns out my elevator conversations helped me get introduced to a lot of new people every single day. I met another intern who was few years older than me and we clicked instantly. I have been working on several projects such as studying the ecommerce market of India, doing a competitive scan for ecommerce industries and much more.

Now, I love my job, office and the people. It has been two and a half weeks since I have started working and I love the company and don’t feel like leaving in three weeks. I have fallen in love with the city, people, food, places and much more.

I’ve learned that if things are not going according to plan, you have to do something to change it. Just stick things out for sometime because you never know what you will be missing out on if you leave. If I had decided to quit the job within the first week, I wouldn’t have gotten to learn so much about the digital marketing field and wouldn’t have met so many incredible people.

I am a strong believer in doing the things you love. I want to be able to wake up every morning excited for every single day. Life is too short to be anything but happy. If you feel like doing something, go out there and make it happen because no one else is going to do it for you. This is our time to explore and create ourselves and our identities before we graduate and join the workforce full-time. This is our time to make mistakes and see what we love to do and see where our passions lie.

My advice for working in Mumbai:

• Mumbai is not an easy city to live in. It helps if know someone there before taking a solo journey and know the people you will be living with.
• Never travel alone because it is not safe.
• Only drink packaged water.
• Try avoiding the monsoon season of July and August.
• Make sure to indulge in the local cuisine and try the wada pavs, a vegetarian fast food dish.
• Take a trip to Goa to enjoy the beaches and nightlife. (However, don’t go during the monsoon season because most places will be closed due to the weather.)
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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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