Is It Worth It Without The Perks? – Dhruv Dhingra’s Internship Experience At Bharti Infratel Limited – IMT Ghaziabad

I’ll begin by posing a very simple question, to all those who have undergone summer internships as a part of the MBA curriculum. What were the aspirations you had in mind, before you began your stint as an intern? Probably, great work culture would be most pertinent. Then, everyone would like a supportive mentor. And if the profile suits your desire, what else you’ll need? Or is there a missing part in the puzzle?

Permit me to make an analogy here. If we compare the benefits derived from a summer internship with a salary sheet, the three important factors mentioned above, would comprise of the basic salary. But, the great management experts have proved, incentives motivate an employee more than the basic salary. In context of summers, these incentives would broadly include- a friendly yet competitive group of fellow interns to interact and socialise with, a handsome stipend to be splurged on weekends and most importantly, an opportunity to be considered for a PPO (pre placement offer)! If you get the first two, and not the third, you’ll be disappointed, yet, it would somewhat do. Otherwise, for many interns, a chance to secure a PPO is enough a motivation to not even consider the other “perks”. But, what if, you don’t even get one of these? Imagine being an UNPAID, SOLE intern in a company, whose greeted with this phrase on his very first day – “We hope that you’ll intake maximum learning from this internship, but, we wish to make it clear that you’ll not be considered for the PPO.”

Here, I may be sounding greedy-for-money-and-happening life types, but, I feel the experience I had, was, a bit unique one, and deserves to be shared. Please don’t perceive that everything I did in the two-month duration of my internship, was a mere formality. Calling it a formality, would be a shame.

Yeah, I didn’t have the perks, but, luckily, all the boxes in the “basic salary” category were ticked. On the mentor ship front, I was fortunate to be regularly guided not only by my reporting head, but also two other members of the department, who, in addition to the regular insights on my project, were kind enough to even share their work-desks with me on some days. More so, my internship came as a complete new thing to them, who didn’t have any prior experience of sharing work space with interns, as the company I worked with, Bharti Infratel, didn’t have a regular internship program. Still, they made sure, despite of their packed schedule, they spend at least half an hour daily with me, providing insights on my project. And, throughout the two months, there was never a single day when I didn’t discuss my project with seniors!

Next comes the profile. “Business to business sales and marketing”, was mentioned in my offer letter under the profile sub head. As mentioned earlier, the company didn’t have a planned internship program. This logically meant that my project wasn’t defined as well.  Here’s an abstract of one of my earliest conversations with my mentor-

Mentor- Sorry to say, but we don’t have any exact project for you. But, don’t worry, we’ll figure out something best! By the way, any specific preferences that you have?

Me- (Perplexed) – Can I assist you sir? Maybe my skills can come handy in some aspect of your work?

Mentor- Yeah, good idea, I feel we can “formulate” a project for you, which would be beneficial both for you and the company.

And, as a result of such discussions over a week, a project titled – “Developing Go-to-market strategy for new products” was allotted to me. With my mentor being the in charge of new products and new revenue streams at the company, this made absolute sense.

Broadly, in the project, I had to consult the company in deciding about the facets of the market entry strategy for two of its proposed products- “in building solutions” and “small cells”. The project study attempted to answer the questions relating to target markets, target customer, positioning , marketing the products etc. Long story cut short, it was a challenging opportunity for two main reasons- firstly, Bharti Infratel operated in a business to business setting, which is completely different from a business to consumer one, a field of which I had negligible prior experience. Next, the incumbent volatility in the telecom sector, with mergers and acquisitions taking place across mobile network operators, as well as among mobile tower companies themselves, meant that every decision had to account for these changes.

Coming over to the results, I completed my project well before time ( a “side effect” of the extra hours I put in during some weekends, as I didn’t possess anything else “productive” to do). The senior staffers (especially the two senior “friends” of mine mentioned above) were delighted with my work, so was my mentor. The sales and marketing team waved me goodbye with a lunch party, as it was the norm for every employee at Bharti Infratel. As far as my recommendations were concerned, I was informed by my mentor that, company had taken my suggestion to be part of a “small cell forum” which cost it more than 8,00,000 rupees! On the learning front, I could completely cover the domain of “Business to business marketing” (which would be taught in college in second year), by relating the concepts to live examples at the company.

Lastly, I’ll conclude by saying that the experience, was, surely exquisite and rewarding, and I am not disappointed at all. Maybe, the “perks” could have motivated me to put on more efforts. Maybe, they don’t matter at all. What’s your take, are the “perks” really important for a satisfying summer internship?