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Internships in India

Infosys Offers a Wide Range of Paid Positions

From our correspondent in India, Transitions Abroad offers you a glimpse of what could be your next summer job in India’s dream software company, based in Bangalore, South India (4/11/2004)

The Workplace at Infosys in Bangalore India. Photo courtesy of Infosys Technologies Limited
The Workplace at Infosys Technologies Limited.
(Photo courtesy of Infosys Technologies Limited.)

India, the mystical land! It continues to be a hot spot not only for backpackers, but also for luxury tourists. But don’t be fooled by those stereotypical images of India: a land of snake charmers and trumpeting elephants, of colorful holy festivals, of languid Goa and its sun-kissed beaches, of lazing in houseboats and floating on the backwaters of Kerala, of the holy temples and bathing-sites along the Ganges River at Varanasi, of the Taj Mahal at Agra, or Mother Theresa’s home in Calcutta (now renamed as Kolkata) and above all of throngs of people—eyeing you unabashedly with curiosity.

Well, you can still experience all this and much more and believe you me one can never escape the crowds of teeming people. However, the burgeoning infotech and software sector is transforming India ’s landscape. The skyline in several cities, especially in Bangalore (referred to as India’s silicon valley) is dotted with sprawling units set up by Accenture, Agilent, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Oracle, People Soft, Texas Instruments, Sun Microsystems…You name any company from A to Z and you are likely to find that it has an outfit in Bangalore.  

If the India experience tickles your taste buds, an opportunity exists to partake not only of its sights, sounds and smells, but also more importantly of its changing stratosphere.

Infosys Technologies Limited, a home-grown software company, the first Indian company to obtain a listing in the United States of America (look it up as Infy on NASDAQ’s data base or log on to www.infosys.com), aims to be global, not through sheer volumes of exports (U.S. is the largest market for this company), or by setting up branches or subsidiaries in other countries, but by ensuring that its campus environment is truly global. This includes offering internships to students from other countries.  

Other software companies in India also offer such opportunities, but not on the same scale. Most companies prefer recruiting students fresh out of foreign universities rather than offering a stint as an intern.

"In-Step," the internship program launched by the Infosys Technologies Limited in 1999, attracts students from over 49 universities across the world including Harvard, Wharton, and MIT. Over the years the program has attracted an increasing number of applications. According to Infosys Technologies Limited in 1999, 300 applications were received for 14 openings in Bangalore. This year, 8,500 applications have been received for 70 openings in Bangalore and in other centers. The number of interns admitted to this program is on the rise and 100 openings will be available for the year 2005.

Do you want to learn the nitty-gritty of managing operations at offshore locations? Then this could be the best possible opportunity. In-Step interns primarily work in the corporate headquarters of Infosys Technologies Limited at Bangalore. At times, there are openings for an internship in the branches or subsidiaries in other corners of the globe.

Their exhaustive website is strewn with testimonials. The alumni list provides the contact details for its past interns, so you can check out their experiences first hand. A few interns may be from your own university.

At the time of writing this article, one of India ’s largest recruitment agencies, Dataquest-IDC, made public the results of their latest survey (Best Indian IT Employer Survey—2003). A sample of 1,000 employees in the Infotech/software sector, spread across six cities of India were asked to name their “Dream Company.” This was an open-ended question and any company they wished could be named. Infosys Technologies Limited emerged as the winner, followed by IBM and Microsoft.

Transitions Abroad caught up with Sanjay Purohit, Associate Vice-President, Corporate Planning, to seek answers to a host of questions. Sanjay plays a pivotal role in this internship program. We even chatted with Bret Kadison, an MBA student from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business (GSB), to get first-hand impressions of the internship program.

First Impressions

Bret Kadison says, “Initially, I was disturbed by Bangalore . Since it had been portrayed as an Indian Silicon Valley, the extreme poverty and underdeveloped infrastructure came as something of a surprise. After a few days, however, I began to savor the novelties that one must see to believe — like cows wandering the main road during rush hour, grazing on the weeds growing in the pavement cracks.”

Moving on to the first impressions about Infosys Technologies Limited, Bretcontinues, “On the other hand, my first reaction to Infosys was one of sheer delight. I had expected the Infosys campus to be somewhat institutional. However, the sprawling campus had a slew of brand new buildings with amazing architecture. Its colorful landscaping and fishponds are what you’d expect from a botanical garden rather than the corporate campus of an Indian software firm.”

Bret accidentally stumbled on the In-Step link, while doing research about Infosys. He describes the reason for submitting an application. “As I began doing my first year as an MBA student last fall, it occurred to me that my summer internship would probably be the last chance I had to spend summer doing something truly unusual. When looking over my resume, I realized that my previous career experience did not adequately demonstrate my interest in international business, emerging economies and adventurous spirit!”

Application Procedure

The internship assignment ranges from of 8—24 weeks and during this time interns are given the opportunity to work on real projects, from application development to business consulting, in practices that include Corporate Planning, Education & Research, Enterprise Solutions and Software Engineering & Technology Laboratories (SETLabs). The application forms are available online.

Sanjay Purohit says, “In-Step program has interns from various backgrounds. This includes, liberal arts, technical disciplines such as computer science and management studies. The program is open to undergraduate, postgraduate, and even PhD students. We have had interns who are in the first year of their course, and we have also had interns who have been vice presidents at multinational corporations, but are now pursuing management studies.”

According to Infosys Technologies Limited, the selection is based on the profile preferred for the projects currently available. Academic excellence is neither the only nor the primary ground for selection. Sanjay adds, “Interns are selected based on the alignment between their profiles and the internship projects available at Infosys. So, even though an applicant may have an excellent academic record, if she or he does not fit the preferred profiles, we may not be able to shortlist such applicant for an internship position. We believe this is essential for the development of the intern and for the successful completion of the assigned projects.”

The Interview

What next? Once the short-listing of applicants is over a detailed telephone interview is conducted with the short listed applicants. Bret says, “The selection process was the simplest of any major company with whom I’ve interviewed. I got an email from the recruiting coordinator asking if I could do a phone interview with the head of corporate planning. The interview lasted only fourteen minutes, at the end of which I had a job.” Was it smooth sailing then? Bret quips, “The only nightmarish part was that I had to get up a 6 a.m. on a Friday morning to do the phone interview.”

The names of all selected candidates are subsequently put up on the Selections board, and are available on-line on the web page. The scheduled dates are as follows:

  • For North America and India by April 15
  • For Europe by May 30
  • For Japan by July 25
  • For Australia by August 15

The food court on the campus of Infosys in Bangalore India. Photo courtesy of Infosys Technologies Limited
The food court on the campus of Infosys Technologies Limited
(Photo courtesy of Infosys Technologies Limited).

Current Projects for Undergraduates

This list of projects is bound to vary every year (see www.infosys.com/InStepWeb/projects/default.asp for the current list). Here is a sample of what was offered for 2004:

Projects

Description

Intern profile

Corporate Planning

Analyze key clients, work on growth areas, and recommend ways to productively focus on account planning and building relations.

 

 

High analytical and communication skills

Domain Competency Group

Analyzing opportunities in certain areas. Currently these include opportunities for utilization of technology in the coal, metal and mining industry. Research provides an opportunity to interact with analysts, and may involve cold calling for garnering potential customers.

 

High analytical and communication skills

Education & Research

There are three sub-projects available within this domain.

These include:

  1. Technology acquisition strategies and processes in large organizations
  2. Establishing the feasibility of creating a software engineering handbook
  3. Valuation and pricing of intellectual assets

Intern profile for each of these is as follows:

  • Understanding of technology products, services, and consulting business and corporate organizations is the key requirement.
  • Excellent knowledge of SE processes, engineering handbook concepts, analytical knowledge of technology products, services and consulting business is the key requirement.
  • Same as both (a) and (b)

Knowledge management

A variety of sub-projects are available within this domain. Some of which include designing and developing knowledge management solutions for specific industry segments.

The profile varies from project to project. In most instances, knowledge of statistical tools would be an added advantage.

Marketing

Participating in the development and execution of the market strategy, specifically the emerging European market. Research also involves discussions with analysts.

High analytical and communication skills

Software Engineering & Technology Labs (SETLABS)

A variety of sub-projects are available within this domain. A few which accept undergraduates are:

  1. Security—Developing forecasting models for internet security attacks; analyzing security risks associated with an application; designing applications with best safeguards, assisting in obtaining ISO 17799 security standards compliance
  2. Legacy Application Engineering—Research intended towards capturing software details through formal models.

Intern profile for each of these is as follows:

Undergraduates/graduates in electrical engineering, electronics or computer science. Exposure to software development life-cycle process and information security concepts is a must

  1. Undergraduates with strong knowledge in compiler theory and programming languages.

Projects in areas such as Enterprise Solutions, Finance, Human Resources, or for that matter Life Sciences are open to those pursuing higher studies in these specialized areas.

Bret is engaged in the ERM space. His project involves developing an Enterprise Risk Management framework, which enables Infosys to track and monitor all kinds of potential risks that they face across the organization throughout the world.

Sanjay says, “While the interns gain from exposure to a new business and culture, Infosys and Infoscions (the people at Infosys) benefit from the interactions with some of the world’s brightest young minds. As a rule, the interns work on real projects and assignments and their competencies and outlook have been a greater benefit for the company. Most of the work done by the interns is used as a basis for further refinement and implementation in the company.”

Before applying, it is best to check in detail the projects that are currently open and zoom on to those that would suit you best.

Work Environment

You really don’t have to sweat it out here, day and night. The work times are from 8 am to 5.15 pm in the head office at Electronic City , Bangalore. These may slightly vary in other offices, leaving the evenings free to get acquainted with life in Bangalore or for that scrumptious dinner at the residence of your new colleague. Weekends are off and statutory holidays are also available to interns.

Observance of strict ethics is a must both at the campus and the guesthouse, and the company takes this very seriously. The set code of conduct is required to be observed at all times. Needless to add, a non-disclosure and confidentiality agreement is mandatory.

You may have umpteen questions to ask, thus to help you settle in, a student is assigned a buddy. She/he is the one-point person contact for issues other than those related to the project. The project mentor guides you through the project and arranges for you to make a presentation to a group of senior managers at the end of the project. Such a presentation is a must and you cannot wriggle out of it. If required by your University, this group would also grade your project.

To put it in a nutshell, you work on a real project and also get a chance to interact with the top management. A number of workshops are conducted throughout the term of the internships. This facilitates a more comprehensive interaction with heads of business units. Well respected, and highly visible in the Indian media, not only for the achievements made by the company, but for their activities in social upliftment, Narayana Murthy (Chairman and Chief Mentor of the company) and Nandan Nilekani (Managing Director, President and Chief Executive Officer of the company) were voted Fortune Asia’s Businessmen of the Year 2003. Both of them are actively involved and fully support the In-Step program.

The Perks

Stipend

Interns receive a student allowance monthly during the entire internship duration. The stipend for working in India varies between Indian Rupees 15,000 for undergraduates, Indian Rupees 20,000 for graduates and Indian Rupees 25,000 for those having a PhD degree. (Currently $1=Indian Rupee 44).

Sanjay explains, “The monthly stipends are not related to the project but to the educational profile of the intern and also the country in which they are working in, for the project. The stipend is definitely linked to the cost of living in that particular country.”

Interns working in India are required to open a bank account in India for this purpose. The student mentor helps in this regard. And remember, Infosys Technologies Limited pays for most other expenses!

Sanjay adds, “Infosys bears the visa fees, airfare expenditure, both from their home country to an international airport in India , and thereon to Bangalore , the cost of local transport, and boarding and lodging expenses. Facilities available on the campus to Infoscions be it the library or recreational facilities are thrown open to interns.”

In effect, the stipend can be used for shopping, entertainment, and travel. And in case there is a balance left, you can even repatriate it back home.

Accommodations

An airport pick up is provided and you are driven straight to the guesthouse. Bangalore does not have as yet, an international airport. Hence your first stop could be one of India’s metros such as Mumbai or Chennai. From there, you would catch a domestic flight to Bangalore.

Infosys Technologies Limited provides accommodation in a service apartment. A modest two-bedroom flat, it comes equipped with housekeeping service. The apartment block also has a swimming pool and indoor gym. A catering arrangement can be availed of, or else there is an option for ordering take-away from restaurants.

And as far as traveling to work is concerned, a bus service is provided or you can adopt the most popular means of transport, the three-wheeler contraption called an auto.

Visa Requirements

You cannot travel on a student visa. An employment visa (Visa E) is a must. All interns are required to obtain a visa that is valid for six months. Applications can be made to the Indian Consulate in your jurisdiction.

In addition to the documents normally required in any visa application, the following are a must:

  • Proof of the contract/employment/engagement with Infosys Technologies Limited;
  • Proof of Infosys Technologies Limited being a registered company as per Indian regulatory requirements.

Infosys Technologies will make the above documents available to you, upon your selection as an intern. It is also advisable to obtain an endorsement on the visa, seeking exclusion from a separate registration in India . This facility would be available at the Indian Consulate in the U. S. Otherwise, any stay of more than 14 days in India requires a separate registration at the government office.

Vaccination and Medical Facilities

No specific vaccinations are required for visiting India . However, visitors to India from or through yellow fever infected areas are required to be in possession of a valid certificate of vaccination against yellow fever. However, it is best to check up with your local clinic regarding vaccination requirements. The most modern medical facilities are available in Bangalore. While Infosys Technologies Limited would pick up the tab during your internship, it is best to be equipped with a medical insurance while traveling to India , for after all, you would just want to explore it on your own, after the internship is over.

Entertainment

On weekends there are a zillion things to do. Bangalore is known as India ’s pub city. But, if pub hopping is not your style there are things to see in Bangalore and near Bangalore. MG Road , Brigade Road , and Commercial Street are the shopper’s paradise. If you want to tickle your taste buds, take a tour of Church Street and Castle Street for a variety of cuisine ranging from the fiery Andhra cuisine (from the neighboring state of Andhra Pradesh) to the Indo-Chinese fusion, or kebabs cooked in the traditional Mughlai style. Bannerghatta National Park , a wildlife park within the city, may help you spot a tiger. Other attractions include, the Lal Baugh gardens, Cubbon Park, Nandi Hills, and The Big Banyan Tree (all of them are popular picnic spots). For a whiff of culture, visit Nrityagram Dance Village on the outskirts of Bangalore , which hosts occasional classical dance shows. And if history is more to your liking, Tipu’s palace in the old district of Bangalore dating back to 1791 or the gigantic Bull Temple, which houses a monolithic Bull may be more your style.

Week-End Getaways

A variety of options are available. A few hill stations are scattered around. Coorg and Ooty being by far the most popular. Pondicherry is another favorite haunt if you want to take a spiritual trip and also take a sip of French wine (yes the French culture still prevails, in this quaint seaside resort, famous for its Aurobindo Ghose Ashram). The Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary, not too far away, is a must for wildlife lovers, the tiger may remain elusive, but you are bound to chance upon herds of majestic elephants. State government owned and operated Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation runs comfortable buses to these places.

Pick up a local Bangalore guide, available free at major supermarkets, and make the most of your weekend.

As Bret sums up, “An internship in India helps one gain a better understanding of the ways to mitigate the challenges and extract benefits of doing business in less developed countries; an appreciation of Indian culture and cuisine, both of which are far more flavorful than what one finds at home, and lots of bootlegged DVDs.”

Infosys Techologies Limited welcomes any further questions regarding its In-Step program. Further details of the In-Step program can be found on www.infosys.com/InStepWeb/. Applications can be made online.