|Author: Evan P.|

When we were learning about this program during our class in the fall, it was described to us as “bootcamp.” This term, while daunting, didn’t really mean much to me. It seemed like an empty threat, something to scare us out of thinking it will be a 3 month vacation. At the time I was in the busiest part of the hardest quarter of my college career; to me no program could seem more challenging than what I was going through right then.

It has taken me until now, week 7, to understand why GCIL was described as “bootcamp.” The first 3 weeks of this program were a lot of fun, we got to travel all over Bangalore, meet a lot of fascinating people, and learn a lot about India and the challenges that exist here. The 3 following weeks were equally as enjoyable, we got to start working with our partner organizations, learn about what they work on, go on site tours, and start working on our deliverables for them.

SELCO is the partner organization that I am working with, and honestly I have really enjoyed going into the office and working with the members of SELCO. Everyday different members of SELCO ask us to look at a project they have been working on and provide them with feedback, try to brainstorm new ideas, or just think about it. This has been super cool, and really challenging. We are expected to have a lot of expertise because we come from a prestigious college in the U.S and have backgrounds in science and engineering. When this has happened we have tried our best to come up with ideas and utilize the tools we have to be of service to them. These experiences have made SELCO feel like a regular internship.

The deliverables that we are working on for SELCO were described to us as we just had to brainstorm how to redesign a product they already gave us, and make it better. Normally in school and even in the workplace you are given projects by a supervisor or teacher and you just have to put in the work to accomplish that project. The GCIL project is not at all like this.

We have been given the task to identify a problem in the field we are working in, come up with a solution, and turn this into a viable business. When reading this it sounds pretty straightforward, just find a problem and solve it.

For team SELCO finding a problem that we all care about, can come up with feasible solutions to, and actually think is a problem for our customer has been really challenging. In all honesty we have changed our problem about 4 times in the last week. We have even changed our problem since our two meetings with the GCIL staff Monday, and since our mentor meeting at 10:00PM Monday night.

It has been really hard going into an industry as big as construction, in a country where we don’t know how construction works and trying to make an impact. Another issue we’ve had is not having enough information to base our ideas/solutions off of. We have had a lot of challenges getting viewpoints outside of SELCO and meeting directly with community members to see the problems from their eyes.

It has taken me until week 7 to realize what Julian meant by the word “bootcamp.” GCIL is a very challenging program. We are asked to come up with solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems, in a short amount of time, in a country most of us have never visited before, in fields that we have little to no background in, with a team that comes from very different backgrounds and who were mostly strangers before we arrived in Bangalore. Last night I noticed that we all were finally in the bootcamp mode; every team was working late, trying to finalize their problems, stories of 7 sentences, and beginning to design their presentations. Last night was one of the first nights that people weren’t hanging out for fun in each others rooms, relaxing, or taking an early night.

With our projects due in less then a week, it is clear to me now.

We have finally arrived at Bootcamp.

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