My Data Analysis Internship Experience in Chennai, India

Posted in: International Experience, Mentoring, Networking, Opportunity Fund, Skills Development, Work Experience

The opportunity of an internship

I’m not sure where to start with how much I learnt, the ways in which I’ve grown and the unforgettable experiences I’ve had.

In the summer of 2022 when travelling to India with my family, I visited a multi-cuisine restaurant serving healthy, wholesome foods with a target market of well-travelled customers, wanting to experience the nostalgia of their travels, a restaurant owned and managed by three women, in India, where the business space is incredibly male-dominated. I had the most amazing Balinese curry there and was amazed by the success of it. Whilst I was there, I spoke to one of the owners, Chindi Varalarujdudu, telling her about how I found the concept and success of the business so amazing and interesting. We spoke about my career and where I was interested in learning as well as applying my skills from university. After this trip I just had a feeling that I needed to spend more time in Chennai as it was a city where I truly felt connected to my culture, as a Tamil born in London.

A year later I reconnected and discussed the possibility of me interning for her, and then after discussing this with the Gold team, I accepted the opportunity to work between the two restaurants in Chennai and a hotel in Mamallapuram, a small tourist beach town, south of Chennai. Amazingly the timing couldn’t be more perfect, as the month I was available was the same month her business partner, a chef from Italy would be visiting to open a gelateria, as well as them preparing to expand the multi-cuisine restaurant Pumpkin Tales to another location the next month. I couldn’t be more excited!

A month living in Tamil Nadu, India was a truly life-changing experience

Only 4 days after my exams finished, I packed my bags and travelled to Chennai. This journey alone was a big deal for me. I’d never travelled alone before (other than the Eurostar to Paris but I don’t think that counts), I had luggage to check in and a layover, this felt like it counted. Luckily the journey went smoothly and I arrived in Chennai.

I spent the next few weeks working at Pumpkin Tales and Zhouyu (a Chinese restaurant with the same owners) producing various data analysis reports, using the programme R studio, a skill I had learned and honed through various Data Science and Statistics modules at university. I advised them on the items that may need to be cut from the menu (looking at both the most popular items and the most revenue-making items). In Chennai, Pumpkin Tales is quite a famous restaurant and does quite well, so they were in the process of opening another restaurant, this location was slightly smaller so they had to adjust the menu to reflect this. I advised them on the products they should include on this menu, considering popularity and cost, of course with advice from the employees who had the day-to-day experience with customer reviews/reactions.

The woman I was interning for, Chindi, is South-Indian but grew up in Singapore, so Pumpkin Tales was known for it’s pan-Asian dishes. In recent years however, with the input of Italian chef Mirko Tognetti from Lucca, Italian dishes had gained popularity, particularly the sourdough-based pizzas and many seasonally adapted bakery items. I did analysis on comparing western to eastern/Asian dishes, and the most popular desserts across each season. Although the results were quite even we were able to gain some insights that quite surprised the managers!

On weekends I would visit the hotel in Mahabalipuram, where I did some research into the enquiry-to-booking rate of the property for special events such as corporate day outs or weddings. We found that the main reasons were that the property was out of budget or was not big enough for the event. We spoke about strategies that could be implemented to tackle this issue such as putting a guide price bracket on the website, so as to not waste the sales agent’s time. After this, I was involved in doing some analysis for the travel agency owned by the same family, Travel XS, one of India’s top travel agents, looking for areas of growth, such as airport lounge access in the most popular Indian airports used by clients. I also looked into the types of clients most likely to book, grouping them into family group, friend group, couple, individual etc.

I learned about how they were expanding and their future plans for expansion too. I improved my coding skills, and my overall confidence in translating the information I had found using the data analytics tools I had used, Excel and Rstudio, into reports and explaining my findings in a non-complex way. As well as providing information about the reasons behind the trends, I also provided a starting point for strategies to tackle the problems I had found.

I was given a view into the running of businesses I never would have been able to experience otherwise

I got involved by hostessing, packaging up takeaway orders and answering the phone for delivery requests. I also saw the process of creating gelato flavours, setting up freezers and processes for a new gelato shop to be opened. This was an amazing experience, you never know how much goes behind the opening of a shop until you see it. I worked at the gelateria on opening day, when all gelato orders were given out for free, a CRAZY, but very exciting day.

Most importantly the experience of living somewhere completely new where I didn't really know anyone was an amazing experience. I really proved to myself that I can be confident in meeting new people, being outgoing and friendly, whether it was employees my own age, people a lot older than me or customers, who I was friendly with but also professional.

I made friends for life and cannot wait for when I can make it back (although it will probably be a few years!). I can't thank everyone at Pumpkin Tales and the Gold Team enough for this experience!

Posted in: International Experience, Mentoring, Networking, Opportunity Fund, Skills Development, Work Experience


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