On joining the company as an intern, how has your onboarding experience been like?
It has been one of the smoothest onboarding experiences ever. Amazon strongly believes in giving a certain sense of independence to its interns, and that was visible in the onboarding process itself. I was assigned my manager beforehand so that I could reach out to him and he introduced me to my mentor and my buddy. On the first day itself, I had my work-station all set up, my project charter in my inbox, and my roles and responsibilities explained to me. The team also had a fun catch-up call in the evening to introduce us, interns, to everyone.
How has your interaction with the team members and colleagues been like? How will you make sure to leave the best impression on your supervisors by the end of the internship?
The interaction has been very lively and friendly. The team does a catch-up call at least once a week where we share the highlights of the week, how we are dealing with the pandemic, what new hobbies we are trying out, and whether any of us needs help battling COVID-19. In my opinion, good impressions can't be made by trying hard to make one. We have been chosen to be a part of the organization because the recruiters saw something unique. It all will come down to how well we can imbibe the organization's culture and work hand in hand with the tenets.
Tell us in brief, about the project you are currently working on and how is this project going to help the company?
The kind of work I do requires me to conduct a lot of primary and secondary research, interview various stakeholders, within and outside the company, analyze the existing resources within the company and other similar offerings in the market, and design a launch plan that potentially has a significant impact on society.
Give us an overview of how you prepared for your summer placement season.
I began case prepping, even without a consult shortlist, like everyone else in the batch. The Fear Of Missing Out was real, and it took me a while to calm my horses and focus on what I really wanted to do- Marketing. From attending Mock GDs, to marketing case preps, to Ad Analyses and Brand Analyses, to stalking Marketing Magazines and blogs day in and out, I had done it all.
But the most useful advice that landed me in my current role was to prep for HR answers. They would be asked for every interview, and would most likely be what differentiated me from the other candidates. I wrote down answers for commonly asked HR questions so that I did not miss out on any points I wanted to cover. The journey was one of self-realization and acceptance because every answer required that I knew myself well. I wanted to show the recruiters. I gave multiple mock interviews to build confidence. Amazon specifically is known for its deep-dive interviews. So I ensured that I knew the stories behind every point on my CV like the back of my hand. I understood the leadership principles, and I had instances backing each of the leadership principles I had shown in my life.
But it is to be noted that no matter how much prep is done, the best answers are the spontaneous ones, because there will always be a curveball question that you never expected, and your presence of mind is the only thing that will save the day.
Based on your internship experience till now, what are some necessary skill sets one must be prepared with before starting an internship?
The most important skill in my opinion is to be able to trust yourself- in Amazon's words, (leaders)..are right, a lot. There will come many points during the internship where you will wallow in self-doubt, where you will compare yourself with other interns, where you will never know if what you are doing is enough. But I have understood that the key is to not fixate on these and to focus your energies on doing the best job you possibly can. Taking constant feedback from your mentors and other teammates helps a lot. Keep trying to prove yourself wrong, and in the process, you will gain confidence in your work and improve it.
Calm down and trust your instincts- if you have been selected in the interview, it is because they see something special in you.
And maybe learn your way around MS Excel. Most other training will be given on the job to you.
What are some new skills that you have developed while working in the company?
Amazon has given me the ability to think big. I do my project as if the whole world is my playground and I have all the tools needed to play my game. Constraints will come later anyway and can be worked on, but when ideating, the program should be big and bold. It is this kind of unconstrained thinking which will ensure that you deliver the most inclusive and impactful work.
What are some of the challenges that you have faced in your internship and how have you overcome them?
The biggest challenge I faced during my internship was to contact customers for interviews. The pandemic and the resulting lack of physical interaction had made it even more difficult to connect with them and get primary data points. To overcome this, I had to be creative and found other ways of data collection. Instead of talking to strangers, I found people within my circles to interview and fulfill my deliverables. Thinking on your feet, devising alternative strategies, and the ability to solve problems was very important to tackle such situations.
Tell us about a situation where you were complemented by your Manager for your work.
The biggest compliment I received from my manager was his trust in the work I did. Throughout the project, I was given full ownership, and I was free to make any decisions needed to have a fruitful project experience. I used to consult him for any major doubts I had, but the project was my baby, and I saw my project grow from an idea to a 6-page narrative. The ownership nevertheless came with a certain amount of responsibility- every decision I made today would have an impact on my customers. And that made me deliberate hard and use sufficient data to back any decisions I made. The whole process showed the belief my manager held in my ability to deliver the required customer-oriented results and help me believe in my ability to perform well.
What have been your major learnings during the internship?
My major learnings during the internship have been:
1) Trust yourself: there will be no time to wallow in self-doubt or to compare yourself with other interns. Your ability is what will help you have a successful internship. Trust the process, give in to the flow, and let the wave carry you to the destination.
2) Ask doubts: No matter how silly, clarity about the project and its deliverables is essential. There is no point in investing time in avenues that do not deserve the effort. Ask as many questions as needed, seek out help whenever required, be forthcoming in asking for all the resources you would need to meet your deliverables.
3) Connect: Your team- manager, mentor, buddy, co-interns- these are the people who will keep your sanity in place when the internship is the most hectic. Find ways to connect with them, set up daily calls with someone or the other to talk about roadblocks, difficulties, or just to rant. It is important to have a support system that knows exactly what you are going through and that will check on you periodically to ensure you are not losing yourself amidst the 2-month chaos.
Tell us about your final presentation of the project to your manager in brief. What was the toughest question asked during the presentation and how did you answer it?
My final presentation was quite unexpected. I was quite taken aback by the questions asked. All the while, I tried to keep my candor and answer them as best I could. One question that had me in a fix was to state 5 mistakes I think I had made during my life. It wasn't a question I was prepared for, and I had to think on my feet to find 5 things that wouldn't incriminate me. I asked my reviewer for a minute, gathered my thoughts, and quickly thought back over the events in my life. As soon as I calmed down, I was able to give a good answer.
Some advice that you would like to give to your juniors based on your internship experience.
My only advice would be to trust in the process. Give in to the company's culture, learn from it, let it mold you, and be open to any kind of work. Be vocal about your opinions, and present them respectfully. It is your internship, and it will be what you want it to be.
What was one of the best moments according to you during your internship?
I had two best moments during my internship. One was when the director of my vertical appreciated my project and took a personal interest to mentor me. I was given an opportunity to even present my project before a Diversity Council meet. I enjoyed the exposure and the learning I received as a consequence of this interaction.
The second was on the last day of my internship. We had a team lunch where we played games, shared our stories, and the team got to know the personal side of us, interns. It was a great bonding exercise for all of us, and it was great to know how cool the team I was working for was.
InsideIIM presents the 9th Season of Summer Saga where you can share your bizarre, enriching, a-little-difficult-yet-fun experiences with everyone and win prizes for the same. Your internship journey needs to be accounted for, and here's your opportunity to share your internship experience with your peers, other b-school students, campus recruiters from different firms, InsideIIM users, and most importantly, your juniors.
The Round Zero of Summer Saga S09 is now live! In this round, you just need to put up your interview experience in detail. There will be three more small rounds during your internship period.
Stay tuned for the announcements on the timeline, prize money and judges :)