Sanya - Crisil

Hey everyone,

Sanya here, third-year student from Chemical Engineering. This is an attempt at describing my adventures during the summer (If only it were like an Enid Blyton novel).

After that, the Deluge

I was thoroughly confused at the end of my second year, torn between pursuing a glamorous (so they say) corporate life or taking the honorable path of research and academia.I felt like both areas had something substantial to offer and I didn’t want to miss out on any academic/personal/character growth by just choosing my path early on. Due to 1.5 semesters being online, I felt like I didn't have the sample space of experiences to actually compare the two and decide what fits my personality the best.

POA- Plan of Action?

Act I

So, I decided to do what most people would probably warn you not to do; I decided to take a taste of both during the summers (needed my vacation to be as hectic as my semester :P). I applied for the position of trainee intern in CRISIL’s GIX and Advisory Department and got through after a couple of interviews. The role they were looking for was perfect for me as it sat at the intersection of the chemical industry and finance; they needed someone to assist in analysing the specialty chemicals industry in India and pan out its future.

It involved analysing the financials and overall performance of companies present in the polymer additives sector and agrochemicals sectors. Work would usually revolve around reading and understanding economic macro trends of India and the world and fitting them in the context of the industry of interest. I had amazing, surprisingly chill mentors who recommended all sorts of chemical journals and books to me. A typical day involved going through balance sheets and news articles and consolidating presentations in the evening/afternoon time. One or two review meetings every 3 days or so kept things lively and rewarding.

The office building was beautiful and the environment was quite different from college. However, the most important thing that I got out of my internship was was the experience of interacting and networking with people from different backgrounds. Connecting with people was something I did pretty late into my internship for a variety of reasons. I felt out of place since everyone else working around me was a MBA graduate and for a good part of my internship; I focused more on deliverables than actually connecting with the team. I took care of it in the last two weeks but that is something I wish I had done more. It was amazing to see how many women leaders were spearheading their sectors so well at CRISIL.

Some secondary information that made it possible for me to carry out this internship: The office was 5 minutes away from campus and I used to love the morning walk to the office and back to campus in the evening for project work. There was also a ton of flexibility under which you could opt for work from home for 2 days every week.

The tenure for the entire internship was 1.5 months, but I got it extended by 2 more weeks after I was handed a new task on my request. So do look out for the kind of roles you'd like to take up, it's possible some of them are just around the corner and most companies are usually flexible enough to accomodate such requests. CRISIL was a great place to work, and there were plenty of food festivals, themed get-togethers, and informative webinars where you could interact, have fun, and learn new things.

Act II

Now coming to my research project, it was in the MEMS department and was a hands-on lab project. It involved synthesizing batches of silver nanoparticles and their subsequent characterization through SEM, XRD,TGA and other such tests. I had approached the professor at the end of my fourth semester as I wanted to get some experience working in the lab. I had told him and the post doctoral student I was working with about my internship. We agreed on the evening time for my share of lab experiments and that worked out smoothly. I feel it's very important to communicate to your guide about the kind of work commitment you're looking for and what else is occupying your day. Most professors in institute understand students' dilemmas and suggest solutions accordingly.

Working in a lab added another dimension to my vacations. Lab culture was completely different from corporate culture and that needed me to evolve and learn fast. Research is a more long term commitment (on I'm still involved with xD) and I found the work to be slow paced and deliberate with a lot of attention to detail. There was more independence in carrying out experiments and synthesizing samples but with it also came a sense of solitude.

So that's about it, summer went by with days in business formals and nights in a lab coat. I got used to this rhythm and also looked forward to the necessary weekends for unwinding with friends. Lesson in point here, make sure you don't burn out and if you do, learn to give yourself time to heal. At times, it did get stressful for me to manage my time properly and it got hard to maintain the appropriate work-work balance xD.

In Conclusion?

I know there is immense pressure to be passionate about specific things in life and to decide your career path as early as possible. As you might have inferred by now, I was extremely indecisive back then and found it difficult not to regret the road not taken. I put in some extra effort because I wanted to know for sure what I was doing was the best possible option for me. Looking back, I think I made the right decision. So I guess I’d urge you all to be comfortable with being indecisive and just take a leap of faith sometimes, you never know what you’re capable of until you’re actually put to the test.

Good Luck!