It is the time of ‘SIP heat’ across the B-Schools and across the country. While some students will be calm, others will succumb to the anxiety and exhaustion of preparations. The joy of getting an internship then gradually transcends into questions like How to get a PPO? How to prepare for the internship? Here is the journey of a NITIE student and how he cracked the PPO for an operations internship!
Two years into a core engineering career in an aerospace firm; after completing B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering, I realised management is my cup of tea. At the same time, I wanted a career where my analytical skill set could develop my engineering career, and be put into significant use. Apart from that, I also like to be updated about latest offers, maintain 15+ credit cards, and therefore get things done at the least cost possible. After looking into various branches of management, I found solace in Operations and Supply Chain Management. It fits with my analytical skill-set and cost-saving mindset. Finally, at the end of my pursuit, I ended up at the ‘Mecca’ of Supply Chain & Operations, NITIE!
FMCG or Consulting
Though my dream was to get placed in FMCG companies, a relatively higher work experience (4 years) implies that my profile has a higher chance of getting shortlisted by consulting companies, rather than FMCG companies. Hence, I started honing myself for companies from both the sectors. For that, I referred to Supply Chain concepts from the bible of Supply Chain at NITIE – Chopra Meindl and Consulting using Victor Cheng videos and Case in Points. But, according to me, the most important reservoir of knowledge was the notes that I took on my phone (in the Evernote App). Any relevant data that I came across, be it from group discussions, news, or pre-placement presentations were very systematically jotted down on that app. Such notes are very useful and come in handy. You can just modify whenever required and breeze through it at the last moment. Parallelly, I was also brushing up on my skills required for interaction rounds through mock GDs and PIs.
Scoring An Internship in RPSG
Though my chances for consulting companies were high, situations took me to the right place at the right time – RPSG - FMCG (Guiltfree Industries) !! RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, the parent company of the renowned SaReGaMa Music, CESC and the IPL franchisee Rising Pune Super Giants, forayed into the FMCG segment in the year 2017 with their healthy snack – TooYumm. TooYumm offers low-calorie baked snacks and endorsed by none other than Virat Kohli. RPSG-FMCG has the track record of generating annual sales of 200 crores within one year of its inception and aims at becoming a 10,000 crore company within 5 years.
The selection process consisted of group discussion, and 2 rounds of interviews: one focused on supply chain knowledge and the other one was an HR round. The factors which I think were pivotal in cracking the internship was communication skill during the group discussion round, and my experience, analytical skills, and supply chain knowledge in the interview round. It helped me answer questions with relevant examples and insights.
I was at cloud nine when I was told: “You are offered”. Cracking an FMCG company with such a remarkable performance history and exceptional growth opportunity was a faraway dream come true! RP-SG is a rare combination of FMCG, startup culture and remunerations in par with the best industry standards.
The words “Startup Culture” reminds almost all of us about stressful long working hours and massive responsibilities. Very soon, another question sprouted in my mind “ Won’t a company with exceptional growth expect exceptional output from me?... And, how to prepare for that ?” To make things worse, we were the first batch of interns of RP-SG FMCG, and we had no immediate seniors to ring up and ask “Hey, How is it going to be?” The path was unknown, but we still kept moving, collecting whatever tools and ammunitions I thought would be useful for the destination. The two months tenure at the destination made me realize how to traverse the path efficiently so as to have a fruitful time!
Preparing For A Summer Internship
Learning different tools and supply chain concepts would be the first thing that might rush into our minds when we think about preparing for a summer internship. But, an equally important aspect is to mend our behavioural aspects and soft skills before we start our internships. Also, develop a mindset to give the best of your best efforts during the 2 months.
“Tujhe PPO mile ya naa mile, ye do mahine tujhe koi nahin jeet saktaa!!!”.
It might not be what you know that matters during an internship, but it mostly would be your readiness and pace in learning new things and applying in the project. This requires a lot of stamina and dedication.
Even if your plans are to look for a better company during the final placement, complete the internship in the best way possible because this project is going to be your main spokesperson during the final placements. It is also possible that your dream recruiter might seek the opinion of your internship mentor before taking a call on offering you a job or not. It is really a small world!
- This doesn’t essentially mean that you sit in front of your laptop for the 2 months. Join the parties during your stint, develop networks, and make yourself familiar with all the employees around you. Often, the interns are expected to get data and insights required for the project from the colleagues, and this networking definitely comes to use in such instances.
- Develop a rapport with your seniors and super-seniors, and get to know the key areas of their expertise. This would be one of the best disaster mitigation strategies. At a juncture during my internship, where I was not finding a way ahead, it was a super-senior who came for my rescue.
- Attend the interactive sessions conducted by alumni. This would help you get very relevant tips useful for your internship
- Don’t restrict yourself to the methodology provided to you by your mentor. Be enthusiastic to express your thoughts/ideas during your internships. The company would be actually looking for fresh perspectives and even appreciate your views which might be against the notion of your superiors (obviously, express them in a diplomatic way).
- If you end up getting a project which seems impossible for you, communicate the same as soon as possible, and seek for another project. There is nothing worse than attempting a project which is not in sync with your skill-set and failing to deliver at the end or seeking a replacement after spending a considerable amount of time on it.
- Most importantly, provide a periodic update to your mentor and ensure that your project is propagating in alignment with his/her plan.
Skills That Helped Me Immensely During My Internship
Switching over to the knowledge about the tools and operations/supply chain concepts, the following should be the focus areas:
- Excel in Excel to Excel!! : MS- Excel is the lifeline of any Operations Manager. Knowledge in excel is mandatory for an internship in operations as the churning of data to generate the required insights and output would be an inevitable part of almost all internships. It can be learned from YouTube tutorials or a session from any trainer. Personally, the training session by Altaf Karimi was extremely useful for dealing with excel during my internship.
- Operations Research: Optimization would be a key area in many of the Operations/Supply Chain Internships. Pursuing a course on this subject before your internship would help to deal with such projects with ease.
- Programming: It would be greatly advisable to familiarize with any of the coding platforms like R or Python or Lingo. This would help in finishing many tasks swiftly which would demand tremendous effort and time if attempted in Excel.
- Power to express your Point: Presenting your work in a comprehensive and charming way is equally important to the actual work performed during your internship. Hence, powerpoint is an unavoidable skillset required during the internship. The mentor of my undergraduate internship at Finisar Malaysia, See Tho Wai Keng, helped me in strengthening my expertise in powerpoint. The key learning from that experience was - my presentation would be incomplete without me. Hence, I ensure that each slide of my presentation has limited texts. This would invite the attention of the audience towards my words rather than the content on the slide.
The journey at RP-SG, right from the first day where all the CXOs interacted with us to the last day party bang, was an unforgettable experience. My project was on Supply Chain Network Optimization, where I was supposed to optimize the existing supply chain and design a new one for the upcoming category of products. A significant duration of the internship was spent in developing optimization algorithms and testing them on various platforms. The project helped me to learn and understand in detail the supply chain right from the manufacturing point to the retailer, the nuances and complexities at each level, and different approaches used to increase the efficiency and responsiveness of the system. The training that I have taken in excel, my past experience with Matlab and Analytics helped me to learn a new tool called LINGO and implement the algorithms using the same. During my internship, I learned and implement the algorithms. Apart from that, the extensive support of my mentor and colleagues helped me complete the project successfully.
After this roller coaster journey, I finally got the reward I was craving for - PPO!
About the Author
Harish Narayanaswamy is pursuing an MBA at NITIE and belongs to the batch of 2020. In the long run, he aspires to lead the strategy division of an FMCG company. In the initial days of his career, he would like to get his hands-on in different sectors of management, the knowledge of which would be crucial in taking decisions in future. His hobbies are travelling and watching movies. He has been to 3 foreign countries, and 14 states in India. Have done self-driven trips in the US and almost all major destinations in South India and North East (thanks to car lenders like Zoomcar). He also loves watching movies. Except during periods of stress, he watches at least 2 movies a week in theatres. He has started reviewing movies on YouTube and had gotten good responses too. But, the daily schedule made it impossible to watch movies during the release dates, and hence, had to stop it.