Internship: The ship that sets the sail for your career. I remember the day when I bagged internship at Future Group. It was the month of March. The temperature of the Mumbai & temperaments of the students were soaring high. Hundreds of management students like me were competing for the summer internship at this company.
Future Group is an Indian conglomerate pioneering in the retail business in India. The company has a huge prominence in Indian retail and fashion sectors, with popular supermarket chains like Big Bazaar, Food Bazaar, Hypercity, Home Town and lifestyle stores like Brand Factory, Central, FBB etc. The group also has a noteworthy presence in integrated food and FMCG manufacturing sectors.
The selection process in the company was quite extensive and elusive. It comprised of three rounds; short listing of CV, followed by Group Discussion and Personal Interview. Only after surviving this battle of trinity can you conquer the title of Future Group intern.
For the first round, I had done everything required to build and beautify my resume; scored good grades, participated in business competitions, done live projects, undergone certificate trainings and got professional experience. Luckily, all my hard work paid off. My CV managed to get shortlisted amidst pool of others CVs and I got qualified for the second round; Group Discussion. We were divided into group of 10 and the topic for our group was ‘OTT platforms in India’. Now, thanks to binge watching so many fantastic series on Netflix & reading up about streaming services in India, I was able to ace my group discussion with proper panache.
Finally there was one ultimate battle to be won, Personal Interview. 25 of us were asked to visit company headquarters at Vikhroli to give the interviews.
As I stepped into that office and I scout the area, I notice the whole place was brimming with buzzing energy. There was an organized chaos; it looked like a big business playground for professionals. Like the wise Petyr Baelish says in Game of Thrones, “Chaos isn’t a pit, chaos is a ladder.” And I was on the first step of climbing up that ladder.
Like a true Khaleesi I swore to myself I am going to get this job with fire and blood. However my strong determination started to dwindle when almost everyone’s interview was done except mine. After waiting for almost two terrifying hours, I was called for my interview. Wearing an extra layer of confidence and dabbing a cute gleaming smile, I enter the Interview room. The interviewer takes a quick glance at my CV and asks me the classic question; tell me something about yourself. Now, I had prepared for the basic interview questions like this. I started saying my prepped up elevator pitch, but I felt my speech was falling on deaf ears. Until I spoke about these two things. 1) I love learning new things and since past few months I am trying to learn French through videos, e-books and apps. 2) I am a curious kid and have habit of asking questions and finding answers to them. The interviewer looked up and smiled and I was relieved. The interview lasted for good 20 minutes with couple of other questions gauging my business acumen and personality.
Next morning I received the blissful message: Shweta Majithia, you have been selected as Business Analyst Intern for Food Category in Future Retail Ltd. I was ecstatic, I was on cloud nine, and I was the Chosen one. I remember my first trip to Big Bazaar as a kid, I was completely awed by the sheer vastness and the variety of products they had. Who knew then that one day, I will be working for these stores, analyzing their business.
2nd of May was the first day of my office. We had an induction program that day for all the interns. There were 40 of us from different management schools; all equally anxious and excited for the internship. The induction started with a few commercials of Future Group, featuring its range of brands, stores and events. It was like a little warm up before the big game. Afterwards, the Chief HR Head gave us a walkthrough of different businesses of the company, its values & ethos, mission and vision and the work culture. He painted the entire journey of Future Group in few hours and helped us know what is anticipated of us as interns. We also had a few fun quizzes and ice breaking activities to add zing to things.
Next day, I was introduced to my mentor, the same person who took my interview. He was the Category Manager of Food Business in Future Retail Ltd. I also met my colleague who was going to work with me on this project. My mentor explained to us all about the Food business in the company, the significant functions of his team, the work flow, the team structure and the key projects undertaken recently. He wanted us to work on those key projects to accelerate their implementation. But we were not handed the projects on a silver platter. First we had to prove our mettle by finishing some reconciliation work, cleaning some data sheets and summarizing few other excel sheets. It was only after two week of mundane monotonous work that we hit a jackpot. Our major project, ‘Assessing and analyzing the revenues earned from brand visibility.’
For any brand, being simply available in a store is not enough. How, when and where they are available are equally important. More visible brands can generate more sales. So the brands pay a premium to get their desired shelf space in the retail stores for a specific duration. The aim of the retailer is to stock up the right items in the right stores during right time to generate more sales. At the same time, the retailer also wishes to increase its gross revenue by increasing sales and the Income from Shelf Space on Hire.
This requires a detailed study of spend and the performance of each brand in each store for the specific duration of their lease. This meant analyzing huge data and making sense out of it to arrive at some useful insights. As an analyst I was drowning in data and it was my job to use it to my advantage. My excel skills and analytical abilities came to my rescue as I asked questions to data in various permutations & combinations. I did a comparative analysis of 200+ brands and 200+ stores and came up with some deep insights and recommendations.
In the last week of my internship, I had to present my studies in front of several senior leaders and other fellow interns. It was the first big presentation of my life and I won’t lie, I was pretty nervous. Dozens of what ifs were flying through my mind; what if they don’t like my insights, what if they find flaws in it, what if I goof up the presentation, what if and what not. In these moments of self doubt, I found solace in some music, playing the upbeat motivational songs to raise my spirit. Finally when it was my time to present, I managed to push aside all the paranoia and presented my studies with complete conviction. And I think I did a pretty good job.
The last two days were reserved for felicitation and celebrations, both formal and informal. I had a really great time in this two months and I was extremely lucky to meet some amazing people in this company.
The best part of my internship was the work & the work culture that inspired me to come to office every morning. The coffee breaks, lunch time with my colleagues, various celebrations and events, all of these things sweetened my experience further. The marketing gimmicks in the office (finding cute little objects and articles at your desk) and the food tastings during the new product launch were cherry on the cake.
The only tedious part for me was commuting to office, traveling from one corner of Mumbai to other, changing 3 trains and two rickshaws.
But the pros definitely outweighed the cons. Overall, it was one of the most exciting, satisfying & enthralling job stint of my life.
Based on my experience, I would really like to share some ideas that can help the upcoming management students for their internship. While most of these things are fairly fundamental, others are surprisingly useful which I realized along the course of time
1) Glam up your CV: It is your ticket to the big corporate world and you surely want to leave a good impression with the recruiter to get in there.
2) Practice your elevator pitch: It has become customary practice and its significance cannot be explained enough.
3) Prepare the basic interview questions: This really helps in driving the interview in your favor.
4) Show willingness to learn: Apart from knowledge, experience and aptitude I think the companies look for candidates with learning attitude.
5) Accept curve-balls thrown your way: The internship is not going to be all rosy all the time. You may face some challenges, but the sooner you tackle them the better your rest of the internship will be
6) Never be afraid to ask questions: I am not just talking about clarifying doubts but also the questions that can change your entire internship experience. If you don’t ask, you would never know and that absence of knowledge can be detrimental to your growth
7) Seek out for more opportunities: You are not completely limited by your role, or job description or project or mentor. If you wish for more, reach out for more.
8) Make good connections: Remember quality is more important than quantity. You may be meeting and working along with many smart people during your internship. It is a great chance for you to grow your network, learn some skills and explore new horizons
9) Be Jack of all trades and master of one: If you want to leave a mark in the organization or among your colleagues, it helps if you are proficient in any one thing that you can be known for.
10) Learn to be precise and concise: Everyone is busy with their own work in the company. As an intern, your goal should be to simplify you senior’s lives, not complicate it by too much of information.
I would like to thank a ton to my mentor, my Guru, Mr. Devang Rajyagor. His leadership, guidance and business expertise really helped me in my project. And I am really grateful to get this opportunity to work with Future Group.
That’s all folks. That was the story of my internship