Internship reveals 'the power of an individual's journey'

"I didn’t know it at the time, but the Asia New Zealand Foundation Summer internship was the support and mentorship I needed to realise the power of an individual’s journey," says Montgomery Sykes about his internship with Indian technology services and consulting giant Tata Consultancy Services.

Montgomery: "I didn’t know it at the time, but the Asia New Zealand Foundation Summer internship was the support and mentorship I needed to realise the power of an individual’s journey."

Ever since leaving secondary school it seemed like with each decision I was faced with the same question, “What are you going to do with your life Monty?” or “Who are you going to be?”.

Here I was thinking that jumping from one industry to another would later prove to be foolish and would land me in a place of utter confusion. It’s crazy how you just need a little bit of outside perspective to set you on the right path.

I didn’t know it at the time, but the Asia New Zealand Foundation summer internship was the support and mentorship I needed to realise the power of an individual’s journey.

My internship was with IT services, consulting and business solutions company Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), an extension of the globally recognised Tata Group founded by Ratan Tata, an Indian industrialist and philanthropist involved in areas such as automobiles, airlines, electric utilities, and even football clubs.

The first weeks of the internship were the the most memorable. If you could slip into my shoes for a moment: someone who has never travelled outside the North Island of New Zealand.

I didn’t think it was possible to get that much of a culture shock from a virtual internship.

But from the cross-culture session with Jane Hodgen to our sessions with Nasheen Nalwala learning about Indian customs and culture and making (as close as we could get over a video call) traditional chai tea, I got an understanding of what was meant by the expression, ' Antithi devo bhava',  'Guest is God', which describes the host-guest relationship of traditional Indian Hindu-Buddhist philosophy.

Naturally, I was over the moon that the internship was paid, but the more I got to understand the beliefs and values of TCS, the more I would have done this for free.

Philanthropy is a key attribute when it comes to who I want to associate with, and I couldn’t have met a better match than TCS.  

The company recently announced the launch of Ignite My Future in School, which is an initiative to use computational thinking to transform education in America.

Additionally, the programme also introduces computer science within subjects such as English, mathematics, arts, science, and social studies.

A plethora of programmes have been founded and managed to support the wider community. For example, TCS’s philanthropic trust supports the development of healthcare, education, and the overall wellbeing of global communities in need.  

So, the company was shining brightly in my eyes already in the colours of corporate social responsibility, philanthropy, diversity and inclusion, but the support of my mentors and my colleagues were where the true value of the internship was to be found.

Right from the get-go I was asked, “What do you want to get out of this internship?”.

From the beginning this experience was tailored to what we (me and my fellow interns) wanted, not some copy-paste formula to achieve a summer’s work and then be released into the ether.

And so, envision a silver platter where the choice of dish was what you’ve always been wanting to taste, but instead of Poha Jalebi (a traditional Indian rice dish) it was fulfilling my need to learn about the insides of how a business analyst in one of the largest conglomerates in the world functions on a day-to-day basis.

And why not throw into the mix my curiosity of the processes behind sales? It felt like all I had to do was ask, and I would be provided with a guiding hand to the theory I needed to understand the experience I was then later introduced to.  

Even when we got down to the nuts and bolts - learning about what it takes to be a business analyst in today’s rapidly-changing technological world - it still didn’t feel like work.

Our final project was designing a rideshare API that enabled real-time users to analyse and compare the various ride options.  

If I was to write a second article, I would put particular emphasis on the culture at TCS.

My expectations of a talk down and kiss up attitude were completely obliterated when I was shown the compassion and inclusion I felt during what felt like too short of a time with the company.

I'd like to especially note the amazing TCS HR manager Anne Gamit, a compassionate woman who made this journey what it was. I won’t forget the catch-ups we had every week with the other amazing interns.

I’m not sure if I told her the level of kindness I felt with each conversation we had amidst what felt like an isolated time to be adventuring, but I’m glad Anne and the TCS team were a part of my journey.