Aditi Shende’s Internship Experience At TATA Motors – Case Of Mixed Emotions And Experiences
They say MBA is not an easy journey and yes I absolutely agree to that, but the path you take, the choices you make, the pointers you get and the company where you intern for the Summers, affect this journey, for they can make or break!
I had heard from many that Summer Internship is very important for an MBA student, as it opens the channels for working with your favourite Company directly, without going through the gruesome process of sitting in the placement process again. The horror of placement process can be understood only by the person who has gone through it. Believe me; you wouldn’t want to go through it again!
Almost everybody dreams of a PPO/PPI from their company and starts working hard for it. And so did I.
I think my 2 months Summer Internship was just like a Bollywood film, consisting of a Protagonist (obviously ME), expectations, emotions, hard work, friendships, speed breakers, life changing interval, learnings and more, all these leading to a BIG transformation and a NEW YOU.
Here goes my film… oops.. the journey of Summer Internship
Scene 1: HIGH EXPECTATIONS
Internship Company : Tata Motors Ltd (TML)
Profile: Sales & Marketing
We were asked to report to the TML office in South Bombay on 3th April 2017. I was a bit nervous, because unlike other fellow students of my college, who had received details of their Project and the deliverables, the industry sector they would be working in, guides they would be working under, the homework they should be doing, information they should be collecting, in short, fellow students who had clarity on what they were getting into, I was clueless. Because TML had not yet opened up about the projects they had selected for their interns, we had the liberty to relax and take it easy! I mentioned that I was a bit nervous, nervous about what awaits me for the next two months. Not to deny, the nervousness was equally balanced by excitement, excitement about what awaits me for the next two months too! Strange, isn’t it?!
As I enter the posh TML office in South Bombay, dressed in my freshly ironed formal suit, I feel a rush of confidence. I feel the nervousness vaporising and poise seeping into my very core. This was a different feeling. Oh, did I now mention that I am a fresher? Well, I am! After getting done with all the introductory and paper formalities, we were distributed into groups that would be working in Mumbai and the other that would be working in Thane. I along with other 11 interns from IIFT, IIM Shillong, SJMSOM, MDI and SIBM were to report to the Mumbai Office in Lower Parel.
We reach the office and are welcomed by the head HR. Then we are shown our working space and handed out sheets consisting of our respective project details and deliverables. I am quite happy with mine and ask others about theirs. Next 1 hour we spend with our mentors who give clarity on our respective projects. We were to work in a team of 5, 3 of us working on BUS SEGMENT, while other 2 of our team working on an Impact Project. While everybody in our team was working on an individual project under an individual guide, we 5 had to report to a Head Mentor. We were then loaded with lots of presentations and documents to understand the nuances of our segment and get a thorough idea of what is awaiting us!
PRO TIP 1# Always dress neatly and formally, do not ignore that, it’s true when they say that first impression makes or breaks it. Also, do not get too friendly with someone on the 1st day, this is a workplace, not a social club.
Scene 2: AMAZING START OF AN AMAZING JOURNEY
It’s our first working day; I reach 15 minutes before time and I am dressed in my best. I greet the employees around me and start with my work. I neatly write down my understandings of the project deliverables and add my thoughts about how it can be approached. I read the material shared with us and now fully armed, I meet my mentor. The whole day we discuss the project in detail and chalk out a proper plan and timeline to be followed. I am excited to start working upon it.
As planned, the first week is spent in studying about the product in detail, its background, its specifications, its strengths and weaknesses.
TIP 2# Never underestimate the importance of the initial days. It is extremely important to put extra hours of work during the initial few days to establish your credibility. A good start leads to an awesome end!
Scene 3: TWIST IN THE PLOT
I am sitting in the South Bombay office again because as we are told, an episode for MTV channel regarding companies and their workplaces will be shot and we as interns might get a chance to contribute to it! So TML is about work as well as fun!
By the end of the day, I get a call from my head mentor stating that as a result of the restructuring happening all over the TATA Empire, there have been some changes in the Mumbai office too and cancelling my project was one of them, because my project mentor was transferred to the Delhi office now. Phew! With the promise of assigning a new equally challenging and important project my Head Mentor signs off and I wonder and think about all the efforts that I had been putting in my project. Was it going to be all a waste? My hard work of one week? Or will it be a guiding stone for the next project? I decided to stop overthinking on it and give my best for the coming project. After all, learnings never go waste and the last week had been filled with leanings. Right?
TIP 3# People at the senior level are always busy, use your managerial skills along with pure common sense to consistently updating your mentor about your work. Keeping in touch with him should be your effort, not his.
Scene 3: THE CHASE FOR PROJECT STARTS ALONG WITH COMPLIMENTARY LEARNINGS!
Week 2 and 3:
I talk to my Head Mentor regarding the assignment of the project, he talks about it briefly and tells us about a new urgent live project to be handled by the 5 of us interns. We start working on it and it takes approx. 10 days for us to complete it. The project was about competitor analysis and our skills of communication, negotiation, street smartness and teamwork were tested to the extremes. We had to extract competitor’s data, by the hook or crook! It was again a fun learning.
I reach out to my Head Mentor again regarding the assignment of my project but then there is a Pune Plant Visit scheduled for all the interns and the Head Mentor wants me to attend that first. Before leaving for the Pune Visit, I grab on a chance to attend a high profile customer meeting with a client, which happens to be a key account customer of TATA Motors. The meeting went exceptionally well and the experience made me feel like a strong corporate woman already! The Pune plant visit was an equally enriching experience, though I faced some health issues during the travel. The stay in a beautiful hotel, the delicious food and great bonding time with colleagues in the bus during the Mumbai- Pune travel, more than compensated for it.
TIP 4# Never feel hesitant to talk to your mentor. Respect his time and position, and that he has many commitments, but don’t forget, you are one of them. Speak up for what is right, you will be appreciated, but while doing so, don’t leave common sense behind!
TIP 5# Ask a lot of questions, it is a needed quality if you want to succeed. Clarify your doubts and never pretend to know something when you do not.
Scene 4: SAY NEVER GIVE UP!
It is a hot Monday morning and I am already not feeling well from the health issues that cropped up during Pune plant visit. I reach office in time only to find that the office is being shifted from Lower Parel to Andheri. All the things look messed up, stuff being packed in huge cartons, the sound of ripping of tapes, screeching of tables and chairs, shuffling everywhere. I look out for the Head Mentor, but he is caught up in some important meetings. I wait. I call him, no response. I leave a SMS to which he calls back and informs me about the tasks for the day and the day after, which includes an assignment of heavy secondary research on some 20-30 bus operators PAN India and then a visit to the Thane office to understand the fundamentals about ‘Key Accounts’ from a Key Account Manager, on which my project will be based. I immediately start upon it
TIP 6# Don’t try to run away from hard work and be frank about your expectations from the internship
Scene 5: THE TESTING WATERS
I work on the secondary research the whole day on Monday and reach the Thane office the other day. Bad health and travel in the severe heat take a toll on me; I am down with high fever and severe dehydration. Unable to move and missing my family to the core, I feel helpless and ask for a leave for the day. I report to the office on Thursday and work on the remaining task. Due to bad health, I miss the deadline to report to the Head Mentor by a day. This makes me feel guilty, and I shy away from him for the last half of the day. This weekend marks the end of 4th week, that means the end of 1 month out of the 2 months Internship and I am lying on my bed at night, down with high fever, hopeless, energy less, food less and still project less. The last ‘less’ is scaring the daylights out of me!
TIP 7# Never ever shy away from people, tell the truth, tell them what actually happened instead of cooking up stories or giving excuses.
TIP 8# Remember health issues crop up, it’s not your fault, don’t be guilty but compensate for it.
Chase what you feel is right. Do not succumb to any kind of pressure. The field is yours, make the most out of it!
Scene 6: A FRESH START!
It’s again a Monday morning and I am now feeling fresh after a proper rest over the weekend. I am finally sitting with the Head Mentor to discuss the assignment of the project. He starts with asking me to give a brief of what all I have done over the past month. I tell him about the 1-week study on the previous project, the mini project, Pune plant visit, secondary research and visit to Thane office. He listens, appreciates and encourages me to do better. Then we talk about my project. He explains it to me in detail, focusing on the deliverables and results expected out of me. He also assigns a person whom I could go to in case of doubts. I start on my project with the strength of an elephant and speed of a leopard because I realise that I have to complete my project, that too successfully in just one month now. I had to do in one month which others did in two! I mentally motivate myself for it.
TIP 9# Set goals for yourself, divide the project into smaller pieces and focus on completing one at a time. Consistency is the key. Keep rewards for yourself on completing each level. Work in a proper structured manner.
Scene 7: BHAGAM BHAG BEGINS!
I am intensively working on my project. The project is about study of key accounts for buses. My work includes regional mapping of various bus operators PAN India, preparing dossiers on them, coordinating with state level managers across India and getting data from them, working on several spreadsheets and extracting useful data from them, a lot of number crunching, validating the status of Key Accounts , studying the purchase patterns of customers over the past 5 and 3 years, talking to people from various departments and coordinating with them, field visits, personally meeting various bus operators in the Mumbai and Pune market, getting feedback from various platforms, telephonic interview to finally present a master sheet of current top 70 key account customers for TML, along with identifying the limitations of TATA buses in the market and thus presenting solutions and recommendations to increase the visibility and market share of TATA buses in the market.
The Pune visit, in particular, is that of a great learning. Right from travelling solo, to staying solo, to dealing and communicating with strangers, learning the art of asking “ right questions to right people at the right time”, exploring the city and lots more. I am happy with the way my project is shaping into. I keep updating the Head Mentor about my every task and every result achieved, and his praising and appreciating my efforts further motivated me. One day, to my utter surprise he praises my efforts and ability to bring out clarity from an extremely ambiguous project, in front of my team. He even says that he would rate me the highest among others, on bringing out direction and clarity to the project. I feel accomplished. The fear of not being able to “do it in one month, which others did in two” suddenly vanishes.
TIP 10# People are more important. Never disrespect anyone, try to have good relations with everyone for you never know who can help you how!
TIP 11# When in doubt talk to people around you, they are people who can understand your situation. Get to know ‘who’ i can get ‘which’ things done and ‘how’.
TIP 12# While usually the company sponsors your expenses during field visits, keep the bills of travel and food as well of others very dearly. Do not misplace them or you will have to pay for them by yourself.
Scene 8: SHOWTIME! CLIMAX!
The last but most important task that remains is to present the data collected over the month in a meaningful and usable format, because the mentor always keeps reminding me of the importance of my project, about it being a real value addition to the company. I focus on presenting my data in the form of a presentation, reports and master sheets in the last week, though I need to take a well-deserved extension of a few days for it.
Now when I look back at my two months journey and the result that I have produced from it, the learnings that I have gained and most importantly with a happy and satisfied Head Mentor, I feel I have successfully completed my Summer Internship. For final placements, TML gives a PPI depending on the requirement, qualifications and your performance during the internship. A PPI or no PPI, I am satisfied with my work and would wish for the best! After all a blockbuster Bollywood film needs a blockbuster climax. And as they say “ Antt bhala to sab bhala!”
TIP 13# Thoughts generally are ambiguous. Presenting them crisply into words to get to the point you aimed for is a skill which gets better with every practice.
TIP 14# Make sure you add value to your work. Make connections, enjoy, be fearless for you won’t get this opportunity again! A great work culture grows your self-confidence.
“Failing is fine, but it is only ‘not learning’ which is fatal”