An internship experience is crucial for a student pursuing their masters in management as it not only offers a chance to work on real business problems but also an opportunity to get a pre-placement offer (PPO) in the internship organization. The following article is a reflection of my internship experience in the summer of 2020. The article is broadly divided into two parts, the first part talks about the organization and my experience as an intern, while the second part covers my learnings.
Selection and experience
After undergoing the various rounds of selection and interviews, I was happy to be one of the 38 Summer interns selected across different campuses. By the beginning of March, the concern over our internships owing to COVID-19 was common but the campus program team at Cloudtail was very supportive and reassuring from the beginning. There was continuous communication with the interns which put everyone’s mind to ease. After considering the different alternatives that can be provided to the interns, finally, the internship was finalized to happen virtually from the third week of April.
During the internship, every intern was assigned a mentor, a hiring manager, an HR POC, and a buddy. These contacts helped maintain the constant connect which was very important especially because the internship was fully virtual.
Company culture - Even though the internship was completely virtual, the culture of the organization was very evident in every conversation I had. There was clear importance given to candid feedback and the same was expected from us in every engagement session conducted. Since I had more than one project assigned, I could see the immense support (both to help complete the project deliverables and cope with the initial overwhelming weeks) provided by the mentors and the assigned buddy.
Internship extension - One of the drawbacks of virtual internships is the reduced interaction with internal stakeholders within the company. This also percolates to the efficiency of completing a task at hand. Owing to this, the management decided to give a choice of extending the internship by 2 weeks to every intern which everyone gladly accepted. This helped many of us bring our projects closer to completion.
The employees at Cloudtail keep a set of 14 Leadership Principles very close to their hearts which drives the decisions taken every day. This unique experience of my virtual summer internship at Cloudtail has helped me internalize some of these leadership principles –
1) Bias for action: Since complex live projects are being assigned to the interns, there is an implicit expectation of quantifiable results from each of them. This bias for action in the company was evident in every employee which becomes all the more important in virtual settings.
2) Deep Dive: For every decision/recommendation that was given, evidence or data backing it was required for 2 months at Cloudtail. While this may increase the time taken to make a decision, but the value to inputs rather than results has always been a part of the culture there.
3) Disagree and Commit: An internship is a high stakes exposure to an intern in many ways and this can make them submissive or more accepting of decisions taken by a higher authority. This was highly discouraged in Cloudtail and everyone had a say in relevant decisions provided a valid reason was backing their claims. As an intern, an opportunity to voice opinions and actively drive one’s project gives a sense of ownership. This experience helped me realize the importance of disagreeing when a valid reason for doing so exists and also the importance of committing to a decision once it is the most viable (even if it opposes a personal opinion).
This internship was unique in many ways, but the campus program team and the relevant internal stakeholders made it a point to make the whole experience as seamless as possible. Such prompt decision-making skills shown by the organization helped us make this experience valuable and not use the pandemic as an excuse for a missed opportunity.
About the Author
Adarsh Soni is a student of TISS HRM&LR (2019-21) batch. He has a bachelor's in food technology and a desire to travel the world one day.