I did two internships in India during my study. Both took place in south India in the beautiful former French colony of Pondicherry. First time that I went there was in April 2000 for my computer science bachelor degree internship. I was working in an Indian firm, Nexus Computer Ltd, that I virtually meet through the magic of the Internet. Indeed, I was browsing the web in France with the expectation to find an internship in India and I entered in touch with computer fellows. The University of Paris was nice enough to give me a grant to support me in that experience and I flew to India for three months.
I spent my time at Nexus Computer Ltd (bought by IBM a couple of years later) developing a search engine in C++ for their website and a feedback management software. It was a huge experience to be in India for understanding the culture and seeing how they were working. Most of their businesses were outsourcing computer programs, web developments for US companies and improving their call center division. Indians had trouble understanding american needs and requests. It was quite funny for me, but at the end of the day, it was working fine for everyone. Indeed, most of my colleagues were meditating every morning and the working atmosphere was very relax. I tried to meditate with my fellow workers but I fell asleep each time that I did it and I gave up mediation for a decade.
Some of my colleagues were working in a team divided between India and the US in order to have projects moving on 24 hours a day while the Indian team was sleeping when the American team was working and vise versa. This organization impressed me and projects were moving on fast.
I came back to Pondicherry one year later for another internship related to my masters degree. I made friends during my first experience and I spent six months working in an architectural firm setting up by a French entrepreneur. His company was quite big while he had about 400 employees and two nice restaurants in town. His technical equipment was less impressive while the main office had two computers, one 80286 and a 80486. I came with a pentium one in my luggage which was a racing car compared to its indian relatives. I spent six months developing adapted software to manage stock entries for the construction department and another software dealing with restaurant purchases.
It was not an easy task to develop software for old computers facing daily power cuts during the monsoon season. I had to adapt my programing method to be able to recover data if the computer was writing on the hard drive during a power cut and it was not an easy task. The CEO was not convinced of the usefulness of computers and didn’t want to spend too much money in these weird machines even if it was possible to buy inverters to prevent power cuts. Finally, they used software to manage stock entries for the construction department and the restaurant staff never accepted the purchases software. It was my first approach with transparency while staff didn’t want their boss having a control on restaurant stocks.
I went back to France during winter time to spend another semester at the University of Technology of Compiègne. Coming back was not easy, I missed India, the food, new friends and India’s amazing culture. The semester ended and I moved to the American continent to go to McGill for my last year of my masters degree because I was accepted in a fellowship program in this prestigious university. I was happy to start a new adventure in the New World, I forgot Pondicherry and its restful life style.