We spoke to Garima Sharma, PGP2 Student at IIM Indore, about her experience over the summer at Axis Bank, where she was awarded the title of Best Intern.
How was your experience at Axis Bank?
Generally, FMCG companies are the sales and marketing flag barriers on campus. During placements, marketing enthusiasts on campus vie for a role in FMCG companies and rarely think beyond product marketing. On getting a marketing role as a summer intern in a bank, I knew this path would yield different experiences and bust a lot of myths, and indeed it did. I got a whole new perspective of marketing in a service context. While marketing in banking industry sounds dull, my experience says otherwise. I interned in the Corporate Brand and Media department under the Cards & Payment Team and the project I got was aligned with my personality and interests.
Apart from gaining an enriching experience from my project which was a mix of creativity and technical knowledge, Axis Bank delivered unique experiences like, a day out to their leadership centre meant to discover the leader within us and a beach clean-up drive. Overall, the experience was both mentally stimulating and captivating.
What sort of prior knowledge did you require?
A good knowledge of PGP1 electives provided a strong foundation for my project. Fundamental knowledge of marketing concepts like STP, 4Ps, Marketing Research, competitor analysis and benchmarking helped me immensely.
What do you feel were the most important things you learned through your internship?
My project dealt with understanding the drivers of premium credit cards business. This taught me a great deal about the technicalities, features and customer usage of credit cards. I learnt about the importance of staying connected with the customer as it yields a goldmine of information. Hence, I shadowed salespersons to meet HNIs (the target segment for premium credit cards) and profiled them to understand their emerging needs and pain points. Additionally, I learnt the importance of coordination among cross-functional teams, as during the course of the project I had to interact with different departments to get the bigger picture. Last but not the least; a big takeaway for me was the importance of self-motivation-the extent to which you will push yourself will only be determined by your willingness to take the leap. Mentors and buddies will be there to guide you but the push to extract your full potential lies with you.
What advice do you have for the students of PGP 1 who are going to be appearing for their own internship interviews shortly?
The advice that I have for PGP1s is that embrace the ambiguity and uncertainty. Do not get bogged down by your mistakes instead learn from them, for mistakes become failures only if you repeat them. Be confident throughout the process and you are good to go!
What is your best memory of your time at Axis?
One of the best memories I have of my time at Axis is the Juhu Beach Cleanup Drive organised by the Axis Foundation- the CSR arm of Axis Bank. All the interns, geared up with the gloves, masks and bags, with one behemoth goal in mind- ridding the beach of plastic waste and restoring the pristine beauty of the beach. It was a time when we all laughed, struggled in the humid weather of Mumbai but in the end felt elated to have contributed to some extent in a noble deed.
How did the internship prepare you for a career in management/finance - in terms of culture, work-life balance, etc?
The 2-month internship was like a crash course in learning about corporate life, work-life balance and team dynamics at the workplace. It got me out of my comfort zone- adjusting to a life in Mumbai, accepting ambiguity, taking reigns in your hands and accountability for it required immense efforts and a different mindset. The internship helped me come to terms to the dynamic nature of life henceforth and made me more accommodative.
What aspect of your work do you feel contributed the most to your being awarded the best intern? What sort of prize were you awarded for this?
When I was given my project charter, I was excited as it perfectly aligned with my interests. That was half the battle won for me as I was internally motivated to get some groundbreaking results. While I started with a gush, there were times where I would get confused or lost and strayed into a different direction and at that time I would reach out to my project guide to get some clarity. It was this constant dialogue with her that helped me in refocusing my energies in the right direction. I also voluntarily broadened the scope of my project to gain better insights. When I shared these insights with my mentor and buddy they got excited about it and pushed me to look further into it. In a nutshell, I think it was my inquisitiveness, candour and inherent interest in the subject that lead me to this outcome.
The recognition of my efforts in the closing ceremony was all that I could have dreamed of but getting an iPad with it was a cherry on the cake.
How was the interaction with interns from other top b-schools?
There were immense networking opportunities among the interns as all the 63 summer interns were placed at the corporate headquarter in Worli. The 2-day induction program replete with ice-breaking sessions and team building activities got the ball rolling. Besides, the lunch break bonding and coffee break chit chats, there were several other avenues and initiatives taken by the HR team during the course of the internship to bring the interns together. The interns were asked to publish a magazine called AXIM and also a short film to capture their journey at Axis Bank. The process of collaborating and producing the film and magazine was packed with amusing interactions.