My internship with Idea Cellular Ltd. was no less than a Bollywood movie. Full of melodrama, emotions and surprises, here’s how the scenes unravelled.....
Scene 1: “You’ve got mail!”
It began with a notification from Placecomm, declaring the names of the chosen 4. Yes, I was one of those to have survived 4 monstrous rounds of elimination to have been selected for interning with Idea Cellular Ltd. A shrill ran down my spine as the unending wait for the release of an official call letter commenced. It arrived, amidst mixed feelings of joy and unprecedented excitement, a month prior to the commencement of my internship with the prestigious brand. I hurriedly glanced through the letter, impatiently trying to figure out the location that was to be home for me for 2 months. “RUPAL SINGH (Sales and Marketing) : AHMEDABAD” read the letter in bold. ‘Dry state’: the two words that wrung in my head over and over again, I clearly recollect. The exhilaration seemed to have taken a backseat while grave concern set in. Brushing aside all thoughts of cynicism, I browsed through various websites on my age-old Compaq laptop, looking for places to visit while in Gujarat, naive and oblivious to the hectic regime ahead of me. 4th April, 2015, I boarded a train from Bhubaneswar railway station, to find a driver holding a placard with my name nonchalantly scribbled on it, 36 hours later, at Ahmedabad junction. I took a deep breath as I got into the car sent by “my” company, and set out to conquer the corporate arena.
Scene 2: The Corporate World.
I could barely wait to go to office the next morning. “My first day at work, ever” read my status on WhatsApp. The gazillion good wishes I had received for the day from family and friends made me gloat with confidence and determination. At 9:30 am, I reached my workplace and was warmly welcomed by two people from the HR department. Dressed in formals, I made my way through the corridor into one glass chamber after the other, meeting significant dignitaries and answering all questions asked with great zeal. After a rigorous round of introductions, I was explained policies pertaining to the company and was briefed about the project I was expected to work on. After a few hours of skimming through powerpoint presentations, I was introduced to my mentors, Mr. Munir Padhiar and Mr. Srinivas Prasad, both senior General Managers, Sales. They gave a detailed description of their expectations from the project and advised me to go visit the stores in Ahmedabad in order to gain a clearer perspective. With absolutely zilch know-how of the city, I stepped out on the street, the smouldering sun making every footstep feel like hefty burden. In the next 3 hours, I had successfully interviewed the managers of 2 stores in the vicinity. Sweat dripping from my forehead, I reached office at 7 p.m. The very first day and realizations had already begun to sink in. Corporate life, involving Sales in particular, wasn’t that royal after all.
Scene 3: Girl in the city.
The first week involved me travelling within the city, understanding the project in greater depth and devising a relevant questionnaire for primary research. Once done, I was expected to make a travel plan, involving visits to big as well as small towns of Gujarat, to survey the postpaid sales productivity through Franchisee stores and infer factors affecting the same. With the map of Gujarat in one hand and my laptop with the travel plan ready in the other, I went to seek approval from my mentor. He seemed rather pleased with the meticulous planning and gave me a go-ahead. And this was how my odyssey to 12 towns began.
Scene 4: The traveller unleashed.
The first day, I took a bus to Baroda, travelled 6 hours straight to the unknown city. Once I reached Baroda, I took an auto to the hotel I was meant to put up at. As the auto took a slight turn such that the hotel came into sight, I was left spellbound. This magnificent palace was where I was going to spend the night, it felt like a dream. 2 people from housekeeping ran to get my luggage as soon as the vehicle stopped. I was welcomed with much warmth and shown the way to my executive room. The cumbersome journey had paid off well. The room was as lavish as could be, with a mini refrigerator, a basket full of chocolates, a bed as soft as raw cotton and a bathroom where I could bathe till eternity. Once I was done coaxing myself into believing that this was all for real, I felt something churn in my belly. I realized I hadn’t eaten all day as the growling of my tummy grew louder. I ordered a 4-course meal, well suited for my Punjabi appetite (I’ve been brought up in Chandigarh), signed the bills and slipped into sweet hibernation, only to wake up the next morning. I started the next day by making a few important phone calls to the people I was to meet during visits, fixing plans and discussing the day’s agenda. After a quick hot water shower, I left my oh-so-luxurious villa to step down onto the mucky roads of Baroda in the smothering heat. The first store I visited was located well within the city. After satisfied of having received answers to my umpteen questions, I left for the second store. Utilizing my questionnaire to its full capability, I interviewed the manager and staff of the store and also the TSM and ASM of the region. After visiting a total of 3 stores, I felt satiated with the task accomplished and returned to my magnificent abode. By the time I was done updating my mentor on the day’s progress, it was 10 p.m. After another round of delicious company-paid dinner at the hotel, I slept peacefully.
Scene 5: Hapless me!
I got a cab booked to the bus stand for 8 a.m. the next morning. I was to leave for Godhara and Dahod (small provinces in Gujarat). I packed a few sandwiches and left the place with a heavy heart, making a promise to myself, to be back once rich. I boarded the bus just in time and as the bus started moving, dozed off almost instantly. By the time I woke up, it was 11 a.m. I looked around in anxiety to locate where I was. Trying to communicate with the bus conductor turned out to be a fiasco for he knew no other language but Gujarati. Feeling helpless, I searched for my phone in my pocket to open Google Maps, only to see my fear turn into harsh reality. The bus had crossed my destination more than an hour ago, and I was headed to some place I wasn’t meant to be at. Hurriedly, I pleaded the bus driver to stop the bus and got down in the mid of nowhere. It took me 3 shared autorickshaw rides and 2.5 hours of struggle to reach my destination. I was finally in Godhara.
Scene 6: The journey continues.
Surveying multiple cities a week became a routine thing to do. By the 4th week, I had already covered Baroda, Godhara, Dahod, Rajkot, Junagarh, Morbi, Borsad, Gandhinagar and of course Ahmedabad. The places left for me to visit were Navsari, Vapi, Ankleswar and in accordance with the timeline I had set for myself, I was to gather all the primary data required for the project by the 5th week. Day after day, as the temperature rose, the trauma worsened. Somehow, I managed to travel across cities, gathering all the relevant information I could lay my hands on. Travelling under the hardest of all circumstances did not frighten me anymore. I took general seat reservations to certain places, in order to save time, travelled in local buses and even took a lift from a stranger (my parents would kill me if they ever found out). Scary initially, but rewarding eventually. By the end of all my visits, I had gotten some experience, a little more courage and a great deal of tan.
Scene 7: Focus is the key!
The next 3 weeks were spent constructively in analysing the data collected to find factors impacting productivity. The unhindered support from mentors and all others present in office made the transition of raw data into resourceful information extremely smooth. Using tools like SPSS learnt during my first year in MBA, I was able to do an extensive secondary data analysis involving multivariate regression analysis, age-on-network analysis, ANOVA-single factor tests etc. This corroborated my primary research and I could see my hard work bearing fruit.
Scene 8: The Happy Ending...
The day of my final presentation was here and to my own surprise, instead of being in panic mode to the power of 173649473, I felt extremely tranquil within. I knew I had given in all that I had to this project, and that irrespective of the final result, I would always cherish these 2 months as my first work experience. The esteemed panelists arrived and the presentation commenced. After a few rounds of rebuttal and a couple of hours of discussion, I was applauded by the people I looked up to the most. My mentors, being my biggest pillars of support, beamed with pride as the circle head announced how happy he was with my accomplishment. “Who says girls aren’t meant for Sales? You’ve proven us men wrong.” he said, with a big smile on his face. And that was that. I knew I hadn’t felt better. I knew I never would. I called my parents and thanked them, as a tear of joy rolled down my cheek.