Prior to B-School, I had worked in a top apparel firm. When I began my MBA journey, I was quite perplexed about the direction in which my career should steer. Determining what job function, role or company I should aspire to during my search for a summer internship seemed like a mammoth task. The only thing I was clear about was that I wanted an entirely different work experience compared to that of my previous work experience. This summer internship opportunity was indispensable in giving me exposure to an entirely new work area and also in helping me foresee my career path post B-School.
My summer internship was with BASF, France. BASF plant was in Pulnoy city which was 380 km from Paris. There was a diverse group of people from different countries in company who were all friendly, eager to integrate me into the company culture, and happy to answer my hundreds of questions. The people at the company were very social and approachable. Maintenance workers to Directors were always inviting me out for lunch or to join when a group was going out for river rafting, party, or to movies. In conjunction with enjoying the social aspects, I learned a lot about international business and different culture in the company.
Although, this summer internship was amazing in many different ways, there were definitely challenging times. I came to France knowing very little French. I knew a few words here and there but ultimately I knew no French. It was challenging when I was wandering the city alone and working in BASF because I could understand only a few people around me. Sometimes, I could bring out my phone to use a translator but it didn’t always help. Overall, I was able to get by without knowing French and on most occasions people spoke a little English which helped. Although, if I were to do this all over again, I would have made more of an effort to learn some French before arriving.
Here are a few highlights of my Summer Internship:
1. Core project: I have been assigned the project with the supply chain and logistics team in BASF to optimize inventory through ABC classification and reduce the Safety Stock. This has given me a hands-on experience to practically use the nuances of Supply Chain, which I never could have learned from books. The best part was that my supervisors and team members had been very open to my suggestions. Even though I was an intern, my ideas had always been welcomed and I had actually been able to execute them in such a short duration of time. I had also organized and led few group meetings, which had contributed in key decision making for the project I was working for. Overall, the responsibility and flexibility I had got on my project was outstanding and the company was able to save approx. 1 million € and reduce the inventory by approx. 15%.
2. Team project: Apart from the core project, I was also part of a group project with one other French intern. In this project, we were designing, developing and executing ‘ABC Class’ model tool that aided in right level of stock-level management. Besides giving me an opportunity to work on a challenging business problem, this had also led to great team bonding with the other Summer Intern and multiple presentations & interaction opportunities with the top leadership team of the company.
3. People: There was immense support, guidance and openness of people here in the organization. I had talked personally to all the top management people in the company in different functions/roles, which was incredible. Everyone has been approachable and ready to answer my questions or address my queries. This has helped me in enriching my understanding of the business significantly.
4. Office locations: BASF has offices in some of the best locations. Living in France for the first time, I could not have asked for locations better than Nancy for my job. It was great to see people from different countries who were working together in a company, to see the warmth of the city, and to enjoy the scenic beauty of the countryside of France.
Overall, it’s been amazing to be a part of this organization, and I was excited about the contribution I have made so far in the company. Just one piece of advice for others: Step out of your comfort zone, and don’t hesitate to look for something new for your summer internship. This will expand your learning horizons, make you discover something new that you like, and will be absolutely worth it.