My Springboard – Internship with Vodafone

My summer internship experience can be best described as a flux in which I transformed from a complete novice to someone who now has a little understanding of the corporate machinery. Most say that it is a stepping stone to a career that lies ahead, I would prefer to term it as my springboard.

I landed a summer internship with Vodafone India, in the Sales and Marketing domain. Though securing an internship was described as an odyssey, little did I know that I had just entered knee-deep into the water, and that the sea lay ahead.

Reading the location in the mail Uttar Pradesh (West), made me shudder involuntarily. The first day of work was a series of unforeseen events, which started with me and my co – intern arriving at the Delhi office rather than the UP West office, and the guard stationed there looking at us dubiously as we didn’t have an identification proof. Every 5 minutes, he insisted that move a metre away from the perimeter of the office, and after 15 minutes we were standing on the road, bathed in a layer of dust. The POC called us after a while and informed us about the miscommunication, we sped off and landed up at the right office in a while.

Though the project domain was titled ‘Retail’ it dealt more with the realm of Human Resource Management. The three major areas were Job Descriptions, Leadership and Development, Rewards and Recognition of associates in the store. Being a Sales and Marketing enthusiast, this came as a bolt out of the blue. I decided to take this in my stride and began reading white papers and articles on the current trends in Employee Life- Cycle Management, talking to the Human Resource Department and their current practises and the rationale behind the same.

After understanding the store functionality from my mentor, I visited Vodafone stores in Agra, Meerut and Bareilly armed with questionnaires for store associates and supervisors. Initially, each store visit was slated to be a two- day cycle, but I realised that the associates weren’t opening up in such a short span and so I extended my visit durations. I made it a point to be on the floor throughout the day with the associates, asking them not only about their jobs, but also sharing their lunch, catching up with them over evening tea, understanding their aspirations and complaints, and including them in my analysis.

In the office, three Management trainees from FMS, NMIMS and VG SoM were a constant source of inspiration, bouncing off ideas, giving me critical and unbiased feedback about my insights and solutions and giving an overview of the sales aspect of telecom industry. They gave me a flavour of the office environment, advised me how to approach the staff and obtain requisite data from the various departments. From taking me to New Friends’ Colony to gorge on sumptuous shwarmas on a particularly dreary Friday afternoon, dropping me half way to the hostel when I got late, cheering me up when my mentor went for store visits every month and I felt woebegone, getting me chaat at office parties without standing in queue to gifting me the box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates they won in a particularly hilarious ‘Paper Dance’ contest, they made me feel comfortable and cared for.

The internship ended with a Final Review presentation in Mumbai on the 6th of June. The highlights of my internship would be getting invited to a pizza party and shopping expedition by the Angel store associates at Fatehabad Road, when the Management Trainees asked for a farewell party and said they’d miss me, when the retail team at the office told me to stay back for a month and publish their official Retail Magazine, when the canteen staff seemed disappointed while I was clearing my dues; when the guard smiled and wished me luck when I told him that this would probably be the last time I would visit the office.

The bittersweet experiences of the internship still linger and I hope that I would be able to use all the learnings and takeaways to make myself a stellar professional. As I hope that I get to experience similar things in future with a tint of nostalgia about a solid beginning, John Lennon captures my feelings succinctly: “Well we all shine on, like the sun, the moon and the stars.”