InStep is Infosys' flagship international internship program. On the Voices @ InStep blog, interns, mentors and professors from the world’s best universities blog on careers, cultural assimilation and the significance of an internship at a global company.

« July 2011 | Main | December 2014 »

March 24, 2014

Mulbagal: A Photo Story

An impactful and heart-touching account of Franklin Abao's experience at Infosys'  Rural Reach Program where the team met with 8000+ students at Mulbagal in Kolar District. Franklin is a student from The University of Melbourne and worked with Infosys Labs in 2013-14.

I left Bangalore with little to no clue

Not knowing Kannada nor anybody but two

As we reached Mulbagal by about nine or ten

A flashback, a memory occurred to me then

Mulbagal_child.jpg

Mulbagal_schoolchildren.jpg

The classrooms, the teachers, the children, the energy

All seemed familiar to a scene back in my country

It brought me back to a childhood that felt fresh

But in fact was a long time ago J

Mulbagal_schoolchildren2.jpg

Mulbagal_schoolchildren_lunch.jpg

Where books may be scarce but not the hunger for knowledge

Where tummies may often be empty but not the smiles we give

Where rooms may be lacking but not our happiness within

Where teachers may be few but inspiration and love overflow

Mulbagal_schoolchildren_uniformgirls.jpg

Mulbagal_schoolchildrenboys.jpg

Though I came not knowing exactly what to do

Am I here to teach? to give chocolates? observe? take photos?

The recollection opened an instant connection

A way to touch a past to show the kids a future

Mulbagal_Infosysteaching.jpg

I went to teach kids

I left Mulbagal touched

I went to give chocolates

I received smiles back, a lot

Mulbagal_schoolchildrenandInsteppers.jpg

I went to impart them knowledge

I left impacted with their courage

I went to observe rural education

But instead I saw the future, the future of a nation.

Mulbagal_schoolchildrenwithintern.jpg

The Importance of an Internship in an Emerging Economy

Cawley Andrew Bernard-Thompson, InStep Intern from ESADE Business School,  gives his perspective of the Importance of an Internship in an Emerging Economy. During his stay with Infosys, he worked on a project with the Corporate Planning team.

People often ask me why I travel so much, why I study in Europe, why I work in places like Japan, Korea and India.  "Isn't it just so...different?", they ask with more than a hint of suspicion.  Well, yes, and that's largely the point.  The world has a lot to offer, and if you insulate yourself from new experiences, you miss out on a lot of learning opportunities. 

Travel alone will do wonders for your personal development, but travel within an emerging market pushes you a bit further.  Nothing can be taken for granted, everything has to be carefully planned ahead, and sometimes even the best planning can't prepare you for what's in store.  New solutions have to be devised on the spot, often with limited resources and severe constraints.   Discipline, adaptability, resourcefulness... these are qualities that will serve you well in life and in work, and wouldn't you know it, they top the list of qualities recruiters often cite as most desirable among candidates.  These can't be learned from a book, they have to be developed through experience, and the InStep Program at Infosys is one such great opportunity for a student.

Working in an emerging economy has its challenges, but the rewards are even greater.  A hot topic in business, as everyone marvels at the growth potential but key to capturing some of that growth, is understanding local markets.  Multinationals can no longer get by just exporting products; they have to start developing products with other markets in mind. This is the core concept of "reverse innovation", wherein products are developed as low-cost solutions in emerging markets, tested locally, then upgraded and repackaged for sale in developed countries (think the low-cost equipment GE Healthcare developed for sale in India, and was then able to market in the U.S.)

Having the opportunity to work in a developing country gives you significant insights into how people live, what motivates them, what frustrates them.  These insights are vital to process and product redesign, and you learn how to identify opportunities, mitigate risks, and generally expand operations beyond your conventional perspective.  Understanding the how and why of a culture, the basic psychology and motivation behind common processes is an invaluable experience for the future where you have to work in cross-cultural teams, and make no mistake: globalization and the disappearance of former boundaries are driving work inevitably in a more cross-cultural direction.  This is a skill you can't afford to miss out on.

Vijay Govindarajan of Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business elaborates on the challenge in his article, A Reverse-Innovation Playbook (Harvard Business Review, April 2012).  "When a multinational corporation learns to generate successful innovations in emerging markets and then exports that knowledge and those innovations to the developed world, new business possibilities suddenly burst forth. The limits imposed by its traditional operations become surmountable, and the company can rethink all its products and attack new markets in search of growth.  But few companies experience this kind of renaissance, because reverse innovation--developing ideas in an emerging market and coaxing them to flow uphill to Western markets--poses immense challenges. It requires a company to overcome its dominant logic, the institutionalized thinking that guides its actions."

That institutionalized thinking isn't just limited within the company, it's cultural as well. We're prone to all manner of biases if we never learn to change our perspective, and this is why I advocate so strongly for people to take every opportunity to try something new.  We spend a good deal of time in the MBA analyzing cultural differences, studying Geert Hofstede's cultural dimensions for example, or Pankaj Ghemawat's CAGE framework.  These are fascinating ways to understand the distance between cultures, and what that means for your business, but why limit yourself to just reading out of a book?  Get out there and experience it for yourself.  Apply what you've learned and take some deeper meaning to heart. 

I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes on travel, by Henry Miller, "One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things."  With the right mindset, every trip and every project becomes a learning opportunity, and so I appreciate the chance to spend my summer here at Infosys in Bangalore, learning alongside the best.

Cawley Thompson_India faces & places_Hampi Welcome.jpg

How to future-proof your career through experiential learning

Aria Georghiou, an InStepper from London School of Economics, worked with Infosys Labs in 2013. In her article, she reinstates the importance of going beyond the defined and exploring the unexplored.

If you're anything like me, you probably jumped headfirst into this experience - this opportunity of a lifetime. But our reasons for making this leap most likely vary greatly. Maybe it would add some bling to your CV...or allow you to work a room of specialists in your field...or meet really diverse individuals...or get that "Incredible India" experience. Whatever our reasons for choosing to participate in this internship program, I believe that we all benefit from learning-by-doing while we are here and gain most when we are able to really put ourselves out there.

As part of this demographic cohort, "Generation Y", we are supposed to be the 'Trophy Kids' and our participation alone is considered a substantial enough reward. We are already considered tech-savvy and environmentally and civically aware, but does that guarantee success in a situation of global economic turmoil? If we really are to make the most of our varied experience, then the flashy CV and the networking should organically come from the real learning that is going on here. 

Various forms of networking exist, but the most relevant to our immediate future is professional networking. This is when groups of like-minded people deliberately acknowledge or accidentally stumble upon each other as a result of similar aspirations or when one is in a position that may somehow enhance the other's future business prospects. But as individuals who have made it to Infosys, our personal and social networking has probably gotten us here and it is probably not because of what we could get out of the experience, but how we could contribute to the experience. Relationships are the catalyst for success and after all, we live in a world where your success doesn't depend on what you know, but who you know. Real networking happens when you help someone and they deem it beneficial to help you in return. 

Coming to India after completing the penultimate year of my degree at the London School of Economics (LSE) has required a little adjusting. LSE is one of the most international universities in the world, and surely the diversity of LSE's alumni creates a unique worldwide network. Similarly, Infosys has been proof that we live in a vastly diverse, but ultimately small world.  Everyone brings along with them critical information and can become our own valuable resources. Even though as "Generation Y" we share a strong sense of community at a local and global level, everyone offers something different. It all comes down to being able to step out of your comfort zone, really take advantage of what Infosys and InStep has to offer and what you have to offer all these important contacts around you.

Did you climb the ropes at the intern excursion? Did you dance at the Bollywood workshop? Did you volunteer to help out at an Infosys CSR initiative? Did you attend Kannada language courses? Did you volunteer to write an InfyBubble blog post?

Inevitably, you take a leap into the unknown. This leap will challenge your perceptions, and ultimately enrich your future. As the Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy once said, "Progress is often equal to the difference between mind and mindset." To truly tap into your potential, you need to break free of the 'what's in it for me' shackles and embrace the journey ahead.

 InStep_BollywoodDanceworkshop.jpg

 

 

A different side of Infosys... the view from an InStepper

Written by Samuel Peat who interned with Infosys in the summer of 2013. Sam is a student of London School of Economics and during his internship with Infosys he worked with the Infosys Science Foundation.

Infosys is globally renowned for its sector leading corporate culture, across boundless areas - from environmental practices to the quality of its famous campus in Bangalore. Whilst those in the outside are aware of this reputation, it is hard to visualize its impact until you become an employee. However, once you become an employee, it is easy to forget the benefits of this fantastic corporate culture as the daily grind takes over. One of the manifestations of this culture is the substantial contribution the company makes to corporate social responsibility programs, from the notebook runs to the Infosys Science Foundation where I'm working during my InStep internship.

The Infosys Science Foundation strives to raise the profile of academic research within India and also encourage young Indians to see scientific research as a viable career option.  These are very relevant areas of importance for India. As Prof Varghese, Professor of Physics at the University of Calcutta, notes, careers in science are not seen as attractive as careers in business administration and politics. Moreover, India only has a mere 10 million PhD students compared with over 20 million in China. Facts which must only be a worry for a country which must further develop its high value knowledge-based industries.

The foundation addresses some of these issues by awarding the Infosys Prize, which is the largest in terms of purse in India, in six categories from physics to social science. By doing this, the Infosys Prize supports science within India but also creates role models in the scientific arena for young Indians to emulate. Since the awards inception the award has recognized Indian scientists of the highest caliber such as Dr. Chetan E. Chitnis, whose research contributed to the creation of the first viable vaccine for malaria. Not only does the award make a substantial financial difference to these scientists, it helps to raise their profile as a result of the prize ceremony which is held every year and receives attention from the media. The lecture series run by the foundation which features the laureates spreads awareness about their work and research in general.

During my time working for the foundation, I am seeking to measure how prestigious and well respected the Infosys Prize has become. I have had the opportunity to speak with leading academics within India and abroad, such as Prof Amartya Sen. While it is clear that academics within India are facing a tough uphill struggle compared with their colleagues in the west, there have been two overwhelming positives that have come out of my discussions. Firstly, amongst the highly respected scientists I have spoken to there is a strong feeling that the quality of many of the laureates of the prize has been world class, which demonstrates that research of a high level is being conducted within India. Secondly, the laureates I speak to are appreciative of the existence of such a good quality academic prize within India and feel that the prize is having a positive impact upon their work, highlighting the success of this relatively young foundation.


Infosys Science Foundation_2.jpg


March 20, 2014

My experience with InStep

Written by Garry M Chien, an InStep Intern from The University of Southern California. Garry interned with Infosys in 2013-14 and worked with the research arm of Infosys, Infosys Labs.

Three months ago, I was set on interning in Los Angeles for the summer. This would have involved a daily 30 minute drive one-way through rush hour traffic, a project that was only mildly interesting, and a strict nine-to-five job constrained to a single office building. In this traditional internship, the learning would have only come from the workplace, and personal growth seemed minimal to unlikely.

As such, it came as a shock when I found out I had been selected for an interview with Infosys - partially because it was the only internship program I had even applied to this year outside the United States. Even my parents had believed I was joking when I told them news of my offer. As a person who cannot even handle spicy food, the decision to go to India seemed daunting. Debating over whether to take up the internship was a simple question of whether I was willing to step out of my comfort zone and seize an opportunity.

Overall, my time with Infosys and the InStep program has been unparalleled.

It's an experience that I do not think I could ever find back home. The campus itself is incredible from the plentiful food options (home to the first food court in India) to the stunning architecture that expresses the forward-thinking mentality of the company. As a mix-mash of west-meets-east, Infosys has provided me a better understanding of different business cultures, an opportunity to take on projects that solve real-world problems, and a new appreciation for Indian food. Such lessons are important; for example, learning to adapt to the business culture is vital to success in today's globalized society, where people must understand how to work with those from different cultures and backgrounds. Through my project, I've learned to understand problems from different perspectives, while my coworkers are incredibly friendly and always willing to help. Through InStep, I've met interns from around the world providing me a more multifaceted perspective of just about everything. As interns, we are even given the chance to meet leaders from various industries and attend educational seminars. The learning doesn't stop during the weekends since I can travel to other cities within this country that is full of rich history.

I am incredibly thankful of the experience I have had so far with Infosys and the InStep program. I've gained a better vision of what I hope to do when I graduate, and an appreciation for the contrasts and similarities between working in India and my home country.


GarryChien_LifeAsAnInstepper_Hampi.jpg


Subscribe to this blog's feed

Follow us on

Infosys on Twitter


Categories