Mahabharatham – Summer Internship in a PSU – HPCL, Retail Marketing – Loyalty Cards
Every year when students from top business schools start to panic about not getting summer Internships, PSUs come for the rescue, like Lord Krishna came down from heaven to save Draupadi from shame. In several business schools, a bunch of students will be offered summer Intern roles in different public sector companies every year. For these companies nowadays it has become more of a norm to offer internship to elite business school students regardless of the requirements of the company. Although different PSU’s recruit for different positions, primarily the process followed throughout the internship period seems to be the same: ignorant. If you have some sluggish presumptions about Government enterprises, you will be amazed to find out that every single thought, you had is absolutely right. However, if an individual can put some efforts, he/she can turn what might be a bitter struggle to a productive and learning experience. I have prepared a list of pointers that helped me get through Internship, and I believe this will help you readers as well.
My Krishna was Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited. Although in Mahabharatham, Krishna offered endless robe to Draupadi, stipend I got was enough only to cover my intimate parts. Initially, all I knew before joining the company was that I will be working on retail marketing in Loyalty cards division at Mumbai. After commuting for about 90 minutes, I reached my office by 10:00 AM on the first day. The receptionist informed my Project Manager about my arrival and carried out all the required formalities. I had a brief discussion with my manager about the project and he shared a PowerPoint presentation and asked me to come up with potential assignments that can be done in two months.
Lesson from Arjuna – BYOD
I figured out in some time that HPCL does not have the policy of providing internet/computer to Interns, and so came my first lesson. You have to take your own resources to work which in corporate is termed as Bring Your Own Device. I had to take my own laptop, get a data card and even carry a notepad to work. To put in another perspective, you should be like a village barber who carries everything required for work in a small suitcase. It was my first lesson. Like Arjuna takes his bow and arrow everywhere you need to carry your own devices to office.
Lesson from Bhima – Courage
I continued exploring multiple project options, but even after a week we could not finalize a project. Out of disappointment I went to my mentor and told my concerns. Only then he told me that he wants me to work on a specific project and was hoping that I would come up with the same thing that he had in mind. This was my next lesson. Ask your mentor straightforwardly what he expects out of you from the project. As a week had already passed I took up the project without thinking much. At times, you have to be courageous like Bhima to be straightforward to your Project Manager.
Duryodhanan strikes finally – Project
My project was to conduct a feasibility study of extending credit to small scale transporters. The credit that is extended will be embedded in already existing Drivetrack plus loyalty cards. In simple words, I had to reach out to small scale transporter segment in Mumbai and analyze how these people arrange their working capital. In the meantime, I had to check with large petrol pump dealers about their sales through credit. Finally, I had to consult with ICICI bank about how this plan could be implemented.
Lesson from Sahadeva – Intellectual
I was very clear on what I wanted to do and even set some milestones every week to track the progress of my project. Instead of knowing what I had to do I did an enormous mistake asking my mentor how to do it. That single question costed me two weeks of my entire Internship. My mentor was not clear how I would be able to do a project and so asked me to get opinions about credit from 7 senior marketing managers. These managers were present in different locations, and I had to go to all these places to get their opinions. I had to travel for around four hours every day just to discuss with them for 30 minutes. My Project Manager was against my idea of calling up people. After two weeks, I realized I have chunk of qualitative information about their opinion and my contribution to the project was nothing. To straighten things I went to my project manager and told how I like to go about the project and asked for his confirmation. Immediately he agreed to my idea and asked me to do the way I want. That was my most important lesson: Once you get to know your mentor expectations, don’t ever go and ask how to do instead develop your idea and ask him/her to suggest some changes. Even if you are not intelligent try to aspire to be Sahadeva, who was the most intellectual person in Mahabharatha.
Lesson from Nakula – Shield
I got my mentor’s business card and started to approach petrol pump dealers. Everywhere I went I was met with ‘oh crap!!this guy has come’. So within two days I came up with my own business card stating my designation as an intermediary consultant. From then on I was greeted with snacks in every place. Never tell stakeholders you are doing a temporary project, or you are a student. The stronger the bond between you and the company, the warmer stakeholders, will treat you. Business card acted as my shied which Nakula had.
Lesson from Dharamaraja – Academics
Overall I surveyed 30 dealers, met 20 small scale transporters and was able to come up with a detailed analysis of transporter segment and potential business opportunity for HPCL. I came up with secondary research on small scale transporter segment in India. Using my primary research on dealers and potential customers I discussed with ICICI senior manager about the possibility of extending credit to the segment, underwriting process, surcharge interest rate, etc. I have to admit that my academic subjects helped me through this painstaking stuff.
Lesson from Saguni – Strategy
In the meantime every day I reported to my mentor about the progress that I made in the project. He was happy that I contacted him every day, and I guess that boosted his self-esteem. You have to behave like saguni so that every stake holder involved is happy with you.
After all these lessons I was able to defeat Duryodhana. My Project Manager was impressed with the way things worked out and appreciated me for the effort that I had put. He gave his contact and told me to stay in touch so that if he gets any chance to influence recruitment he will choose me. I am glad that I was able to practice retail marketing concepts that I had learnt and helped Krishna, who saved me. I must add here that HPCl considers ‘food for thought’ statement very seriously as they provide snacks every 2 hours in the office. Although Krishna did not offer me enough cloth to cover my shame he gave me enough food and taught me several principles so I can conquer any Duryodhana’s in the future!!!