Frenetic Mumbai grows on tech intern

Earlier this year, the Foundation enabled me to travel to Mumbai for a month to work on a Software Engineering internship for Tata Consultancy Services, one of the largest technology companies globally.
Michael Freeman (four from left) with fellow intern Jack Baucke and colleagues from Tata Consultancy Services

Michael Freeman (four from left) with fellow interns Jack Baucke (three from left) and Fa’afetai Malolo  (second from right) with colleagues from Tata Consultancy Services

I arrived in Mumbai late at night and the first thing that hit me was how different the atmosphere was.

Here in New Zealand we are used to the night air being cold and fresh but in Mumbai it was warm and humid, and I soon realised that the nights were very similar to the days.

The first week of work was exciting, meeting lots of new people and setting up a new work environment

The other two Kiwi interns and I were assigned a project that involved creating an in-house tool to aid in workplace efficiency and accountability.

Before we could start, we needed to complete some online training and learn the technologies we would be implementing. This training was open ended and provided me the ability to increase my skills in areas such as natural language processing and machine learning.

Outside of work, the other interns and I explored Mumbai. We travelled to the GateWay of India, a monolithic archway where the last colonial English soldiers left India in the 1940’s and visited many temples and caves.

Mumbai has a great food scene with a cosmopolitan variety of cultures and flavours to choose from, and trying these was definitely a highlight of the trip.

Getting around the city was an adventure in itself, whether you’re in an auto-rickshaw or a car. The roads are crowded and traffic lights are few and far between meaning most drivers just edge out into the traffic and hope people stop for them, and since I didn’t see a single accident it seemed to work.

Michael: "The longer I spent in Mumbai the more it grew on me."

When I first arrived in Mumbai, the amount of security everywhere put me on edge. Every building has at least two security guards on at any one time and most public buildings have metal detectors and X-ray machines at the door.

The uneasy feeling I had was baseless, however, as everyone in Mumbai was friendly and always happy to help out a lost tourist.

The few people I interacted with at work made us feel welcome and were always happy to suggest a good restaurant or something interesting to do on our weekends.

The longer I spent in Mumbai the more it grew on me.

When I first arrived, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of people, the crazy and seemingly unordered traffic and the huge difference in culture, but as I got a feel for the city and more comfortable with the crowds I began to feel at home.

Mumbai is a unique city, full of life with a different experience around every corner, and I would highly recommend going if you get the chance.

A huge thank you to everyone at Tata Consultancy Services for helping me settle in, recommending places to go and being lovely, and another huge thank you to Bobae and the team at the Asia New Zealand Foundation for providing this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Michael Freeman