When Strategy Comes To The Aid Of An Intern – Lalith Gopal
I could still remember it clearly, the weather was foggy when I set foot out of my college. It was the day of my final exam but I was not relieved about that. Believe me, exam times at an IIM can get pretty hectic (much more than usual exams) and there is a certain relief when they do get over. But this particular day, that was not the case. It was these coming two months that lay shrouded by a fog of uncertainty and doubt in my mind. The excitement due to new opportunities was mixed with doubt about the tasks ahead. With this, I boarded my plane at Delhi and headed to Chennai.
After a week of bliss in my abode (a town near Chennai), I left with the same uncertainty in the night. When the sun came up, I found myself in Chennai in clear weather and with a strategy to go about it. See, it would be to your advantage when you break up the duration of any task into phases so that you know what to do during each phase. I unpacked my stuff at my friend’s house and travelled to the place which would shape my next two months and the ones after that too. The nameplate read ‘Prakash Kochar & Co.’
Prakash Kochar & Company or commonly called by the employees there as PKC is a Management Consulting firm. I was selected for the role of Management Consultant in an interview that took place about 5 months ago from the day I reached Chennai. It was the first time PKC had visited IIM Rohtak and I had no seniors and no information about the company that would help me through these two months.
I went inside and was greeted by the HR manager. Once she got the HR related processes over with, I met with my mentor with whom I and my co-interns discussed what the plan and the scope of our internship would be.
The first phase of my strategy (Observation phase) was simply observing the company and its practices. This is particularly important because this would help build or break the remainder of the internship. We then dived right into the internship by getting trained about the nitty-gritty of the organisation and its business. The training continued for about two weeks. This is the place and time of opportunity, where you can get the contacts that would matter for the rest of the internship. The key at this stage is to actively and persistently learn about the organisation, its practices, methods and its employees. This proved to be really helpful for the remainder of the journey.
The company involved itself with small and medium enterprises. It would review the company’s business process and restructure it so that the client can efficiently and effectively track the process and plug the leakages. A heads-up to anyone who is reading this article is that, during your internship, do not and I cannot stress this more, do not assume or think that the training given by the organisation will be enough to help you sustain yourself. I would describe training as the bare minimum that the company and your mentor would expect you to know so that you can use your own skills and achieve a synergy when your creativity and skills combine with the training that the company provides. We had to write a test (one that was not as hectic as my end terms) and based on those scores, we were allotted clients whose business processes we would analyse and improve. Thus began my journey, literally.
Now came phase two (Planning Phase) which was the phase in which I planned on what I can do with my knowledge from the classroom and the experience of training at PKC. In this phase, I was allotted clients in places that make Tamil Nadu what it is. They were the main towns and villages of Tamil Nadu. The first place was Salem. I had to go there so that I would receive more training from the client this time. It involved training about the client’s practices and processes. A new place and culture had left me motivated about the future visits (To be frank, I even bragged about how I visited many places in Tamil Nadu to my family and friends). I also planned out what I wanted to do and how I would go about it.
Then came phase three (Dash phase). This phase was where I started working on fulfilling my vision of what I wanted to make out of this internship that is aligned to both my goals and to the goals of PKC. This is the place the contacts that I picked up during training assisted me a lot. As per my location, I shifted my base to two places called Rajapalayam and Srivilliputur located near Madurai. The biggest takeaway and motivation in the context of my internship was that I had to interact with employees in these areas. You see, there is bound to be a massive information gap between them and us. They are the workers following the processes and I was the person that had to teach them how to change their style. It was a very enriching experience.
Finally, came phase four (Report phase). This involved presenting the results of the internship to the mentor and tying up all loose ends like getting the certificate, feedback forms and other formalities. They liked my work and I expressed my gratitude to them as well. In an internship, it is extremely important that you explicitly thank all the people for all the knowledge they have passed on to you. I successfully completed this and with a bittersweet feeling in my chest, the same feeling I had when I left college to come here, I left for college.
The key points I would suggest to other wannabe interns is that:
•Always plan out your internship – things that you will do and things that you must never ever do in any situation because an internship is like a mirror, the amount of effort and passion put in by you gets reflected back on to you by the company, so it is important you are in control of your actions.
•Keep at least one contact in the organisation – I mean one with whom you can discuss your issues informally and ask for guidance. It would be wonderful if you can solve the issue yourself but issues are not that simple in real life and sometimes, a helping hand will be useful.
•Start recording your activities in the internship from day one – This will help a lot from a placement and achievement standpoint because, let’s face it, not all of us have a perfect memory and it would be helpful when preparing the final report to submit to the college.