7 Myths About MBA Placements
I didn’t get my internship through my summer placement rounds. I’ll be very frank with that. And I’m in a start up. And like many of you, I too thought I could be the next marketing intern at HUL or L’Oreal and get the PPO and come back victorious. None of these fairy tales happened. Let me tell you what really happened and what I learnt from it all. This is from a summer intern to all her juniors (and her past self), because there are some records that need to be set straight.
1. Your internship/job is only worth writing home about if it’s from the campus placement. I believed this and so did many others, as well as my parents. And God, if my parents thought this way, this was the only way I had to get a placement. WRONG. There is no difference between someone who got their internship from campus and someone who got it outside. They don’t write it on your resume that you got your internship/job from outside. If someone asks you, they’re probably looking to see how they can sneer at you for being so talent-less that you had to seek an opportunity outside. Put these losers in place by saying, “Well, this company doesn’t come on campus for recruitment and I really wanted to join them.” As simple as that. If it still doesn’t work on them, so be it. You’re not here to please them. You’re here to learn.
2. Brands matter, startups don’t. I was adamant I wouldn’t join a startup. Just like any other student, like I mentioned before, I too thought I was a diamond in the rough, waiting to be polished by the best brand that came on campus. But reality hit me hard. Other people (even undeserving people) got in. What can I say? The placement committee thinks I may not have performed as well as they did to get into a brand. I don’t know if it’s the truth. You’ll see why in the next point. But anyway, I ended up joining a startup outside the system. And it’s been the best experience ever. For instance, I was probably the ONLY intern in my batch who got to go to the Google Home India product launch, just because my company’s product can be linked to the smart assistant. I wouldn’t have gotten this opportunity had I been placed with the help of the system! BUT, bear in mind: you need to choose the right startup. I’ve done my fair share of internships with both brands and startups over the years. I can tell you that a lot of the startups were bad because they were started by youngsters with the idea of being their own boss. I am not demeaning anyone who happens to have a startup, but I’m just saying that some startups don’t take the business world seriously. And that’s the kind of startup you shouldn’t go for, especially if you’re looking to learn. My company is one that has a thoroughly seasoned team as the top management (they have been in the industry for thirty years, and even the salespeople have a minimum of 10 years of experience in the industry!) and you will not believe the way everyone is connected, friendly and warm. You will not get this in a brand. One of my friends works for a major bank and she says the hierarchy ruins her experience. Here, the top management makes time to talk to me, to the engineers in the RnD department, to everyone (one of the founders spoke to me for the first time and I was completely speechless that a legend was talking to me :p). How many of my batch mates would have had the chance to talk to such luminaries in their industry and learn directly from them? The answer would be a single digit number. You have to choose the right startup by looking at the team behind it. Since my company’s top management have held such high positions, they even run this startup like a big corporate company because it’s their brainchild and you can be sure that you get exposure to that corporate life, as well as the startup life, it motivates you to work so hard, just because you can shine in front of such an awe-inspiring team. You wouldn’t feel the same way if the founders were just two years older than you.
3. The people who get in through the system deserve it. Not necessarily. Unless of course, you count asking daddy to put in a word for you so that the HR zeros in on you while selecting people, as deserving. This is the thing I was telling you about in the previous point. Yes, scarily enough, contacts work inside the placement process, as well as outside. It’s OK to ask daddy to put in a word for you outside the process. It means you’re not wasting someone’s chance at getting into that company, even if you end up getting into the same company because of daddy. But asking daddy to rig the process from within? That’s nasty. But, welcome to the rat race, kids! Here, anything is allowed, as long as it stays behind closed doors.
4. The placement committee is necessary for you to get placed. Absolutely not. They can help increase the stipend you’re getting. But that’s it. Otherwise, you can pretty much apply to any company you want, be persistent and get through to them. Technically, that’s how the placement committee works anyway. You’re just being in charge of your own placements. Oh, and the placement committee will tell you that you have a higher chance of getting a PPO if you go through their process. Not really. My theory (and this is quite true) is that if you’re talented enough, you’re eager enough, any company will take you back as a full-time employee. I know that my company is open to the idea of taking me on as a full-time employee, although they don’t call it PPO or anything. Those are new-fangled words. I asked the HR about PPOs and she said that they were a new company (that’s also a reason why they don’t know about it) so they don’t have such formal procedures, but if I do well, they’ll consider taking me on the team permanently. It’s as simple as talking to your HR. It doesn’t require a 16 member team to convince anyone. The simple fact that you asked is going to let them know you liked the company, the people, the work and you want to do more to help them and learn from them.
5. Summer internships decide your life. Nope. So many other things, such as whether you’re a good, ethical person, does. Philosophy aside, I know a senior who worked in marketing for a bank, and now she’s in a pharmaceutical company. Same domain, different industry and the difference is significant. Internships are there for you to find your feet, decide what you want to do with life. It’s two months of being in a different city with different responsibilities than to get good grades. It’s two months of really finding yourself. So find out whether you like what you’re doing. Or else, no worries. These two months should’ve been wasted somehow. What better way to waste it than to find out you’re more inclined toward the culinary arts? That whole pressure to get a PPO or PPI? That’s only if you really like the company and the job. Otherwise, it’s OK to search for a different calling.
6. Stipend matters. Really? I’ll give you an example. A batchmate of mine is with a good brand and he’s getting paid well and getting reimbursed. He has to travel 100 km a day back and forth some rural areas, and he is suffering from indigestion, dehydration and he’s always sick these days. But oh! Look at how much he’s earning! And in a good brand! On the other hand, another batchmate is earning a bare minimum but he is living the dream because it’s his favourite company (although not a big one) and he’s doing what he’s always wanted to do. Now, I leave it up to you to decide who has the shorter end of the stick. Mind you, there is a right and wrong answer here. And I will judge you if you pick the wrong answer.
7. Interns will be given important work. Not entirely true, not entirely false. You won’t be expected to bring in sales of Rs. 1 million in just one month. Because you can’t. You’re not equipped enough to. If you can, great! But mostly, you’ll be given smaller tasks and you’ll be asked to fulfil them sincerely. Do you still want that PPO? Do as they tell you to. Because they don’t expect much out of you anyway. Especially if you’re in a big company, you may not even have the attention of your manager. You might end up getting bored with the paltry tasks you’re given and you’ll start playing Minesweeper or you might start reading something else. However, they’re not going to ask you to fetch coffee or photocopies. So no worries about that either. Companies these days value people’s time and effort, and recognise them as humans. You won’t have to face this issue. But be prepared for really “interesting” tasks. I’ll leave that up to you to find out.
I hope this article was useful to you. Relax when it comes to summer placements. This time, you’re allowed to mess up so that you don’t do it when you start working. Anyone who hypes them up needs to put a sock in it. Don’t EVER be discouraged if you don’t get into your dream company. This doesn’t mean you’ll never get in there. You just need to try another time. Cheers!