India interns get virtual taste of Viasat culture and technology

They may not have met any of their coworkers in person, but they’re ready to join the company fulltime


Alex Miller

India interns Meenakshi Subramaniam and Shobhit Tiwari have never set foot on either of Viasat’s Chennai campuses, and have not met any of their coworkers in person. Nevertheless, they say they’re sold on Viasat’s culture and excited to join the company fulltime.

The two are among 10 current India interns who began their internships in January and will complete them later this month. In India, college students intern in two separate cycles — one in spring and a second in winter.

While they’ve so far experienced Viasat only through a computer screen, both Subramaniam and Tiwari say it’s been a good experience.

“I’m getting to explore many things related to my interests, like machine learning and artificial intelligence,” Subramaniam said. “And I’m getting good support from the company. That gives us a positive exposure.”

“I like the way things work here at Viasat,” Tiwari said. “The work/life balance is very good. Many of my friends are also interning for other corporations and they are working 12 to 14 hours a day; it’s very mentally stressful for them. I haven’t experienced anything like that. Moreover, my managers and supervisor are very supportive and always present to help me out whenever I am stuck on an issue like a conceptual doubt or a program bug.”

The two learned about Viasat during on-campus interviews — Subramaniam at Thiagarajar College of Engineering in Madurai, and Tiwari at Shiv Nadar University in Greater Noida. Both said the company’s satellite communications technology piqued their interest. Their internship experiences have given them even greater exposure to the company’s technology.

Tiwari is helping develop a user terminal through which Viasat subscribers can operate Internet of Things devices.

“Suppose you’re not in your home and you want to access your devices remotely,” he said. “This application will be connected to the Viasat modem so you access the devices.

“This is the first time I’m doing something like this — creating a service. It’s a very new experience for me, and I’ve learned many new things.”

Subramaniam is creating an offline chatbot that can be used by commercial aviation customers. She’s grateful not only for the work she’s doing, but Viasat’s trust in its interns.

“We’re training the bot using machine learning, which I love,” she said. “And our mentors don’t tell us what to do; they give us options so we can explore.”

As it did for 2020 interns in the United States, Viasat shipped company laptops to the interns’ homes, and held a virtual onboarding process. In addition to meeting regularly with their managers, the interns are each assigned mentors — recent new graduates who share their experiences working at Viasat. The interns also participate in Viasat India’s all-hands Zoom meetings.

“We miss in-person connections, but they include all of us,” Subramaniam said.

Both students are living at home with their parents, and while that’s common everywhere during the pandemic, it’s the norm in India. University students typically live with their parents until after graduation.

In India, internships are the prelude to a permanent position with a company.

“When we go to a college, we hire interns who are willing to convert to fulltime employees,” said Ekta Ghanshyam, talent acquisition manager at Viasat India. “They go through the same screening we might do for a fulltime hire. If their internship is successful, we would very much like them to join us.”

In the last five years, Ghanshyam said 95% of the India interns join the company as fulltime employees.

Subramaniam and Tiwari said that is their intention. Both plan to leave their parents’ homes and find housing in Chennai in the next couple of months so they can be ready to report to work when the offices re-open.

“We both are looking forward to getting to work in the office,” Tiwari said.