Rahul Bajaj is a fifth year senior from New Delhi, India majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in economics. Rahul is a member of Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and on top of that he also served as a Boiler Gold Rush leader. Rahul had the opportunity to intern with Mercedes-Benz last summer in Pune, India and if that's not cool in itself, he also got to drive some of their new models! Rahul explains how he adapted from working in the Western world to the working culture in India and how he would like to work for a global company like Mercedes-Benz in the future.
What attracted you to the company/position?
I have always been passionate about cars, and Mercedes-Benz is one of the world’s foremost luxury car manufacturers. Having the opportunity to spend two months there was like a dream come true for me!
Can you tell me a little about what your overall experience was like working there and what your typical day was like?
Not one day was like the other, every day was different. I rotated through several departments and learned about all the different aspects that go into making a car. It was surreal to see the process start with a sheet of metal going through a few machines and end with a luxury car.
How did you adapt to working in India and how was it different from working in America?
I am originally from India, but I had never worked in India before so as someone who was used to working in the U.S., it was a significantly different experience. The company was influenced greatly by German engineering and Indian culture. Everything from the way meetings were conducted to the way processes were designed and the way problems were tackled was different. Instead of assuming I knew everything, I learned asking questions (a lot of questions!) was the best way to avoid making mistakes and avoid any miscommunication.
Did you get any cool perks for working with Mercedes-Benz?
I got to test drive a few models that are way more expensive than I can afford (for now…).
Do you feel that your past internships helped prepare you for this one? If so how?
My previous co-oping experience with ZF TRW helped me prepare a lot for any role in the engineering industry, as there is a lot in common across the different industries, such as industrial codes, processes for designing and ensuring quality of things. For example, six sigma, lean manufacturing etc.
What did this job teach you about yourself?
Exposing myself to different cultures and work environments has made me very flexible. I learned that I can adapt and overcome challenges that I might face in the workplace such as working with people from different backgrounds, working in a new industry and taking on a new role. Putting myself out of my comfort zone has allowed me to learn so much. Also, I have discovered through this experience, and various others, that I am a globetrotter, I love to be in new places and meet new people.
Where do you see yourself working post-graduation?
After graduation, I see myself working in a global engineering environment where I get to interact with people from all over the world and travel to countries with cultures different from mine. A position at an international company such as Mercedes-Benz would be the perfect fit for me!
How do you feel that your education at Purdue helped you while working for this company?
My 4 years at Purdue has taught me how to be a true global engineer, and after gaining industrial experience in various countries, I have become highly adaptable and flexible to different cultures and work environments.
What career readiness tools has Purdue provided you with?
Apart from the academic and technical knowledge which is of immense use in the engineering industry, Purdue has prepared me for any sort of career by exposing me to a variety of things on campus, not always related to my major. I’m involved in several things that are not related to my major at all such as volunteering and taking language courses abroad. I have become a much better learner here and I feel confident that I can take on any challenge, big or small!
What career advice would you give to underclassmen?
There are an infinite number of things to do on campus. Do things that interest you, and do things that do not interest you! I have discovered my love for travelling and new cultures only because I put myself out there and explored some of what Purdue offers. I am sure whatever it is you love, whether you know it yet or not, is out there somewhere in the form of a course, a club or a study abroad. It’s waiting for you to find it and discover for yourself why college is the best time of your life! In the words of one of my bosses, “Do what you love and do what you don’t love. Once you are done, either you will have found something you want to do for the rest of your life, or you will have found something you don’t. Either way, it will help you.”