In this article, Sonia Gupta, a student of IIM Lucknow who interned at Uber in Operations and Supply Chain Domain talks about her summer internship experience. Find out about how she prepared for the summer placements, her on-boarding process, her experiences & what her learnings are during this internship.
Hi, Tell us about how you got selected for this internship? Take us through the moment you realized you had got the internship.
Still, remember the day when my interviewer gave me a puzzle to solve, and I solved it then he started increasing the constraints in the same puzzle, I still managed to solve after taking some time, but there was a point where after a lot of brainstorming, I almost started to give up and interviewer gave me few hints, and thanks to my LRDI preparation during CAT journey I solved it, that was a point Interviewer asked me how do you feel now, and that was the moment I realized I made it.
On joining the company as an intern, how has your onboarding experience been like?
Uber sent us Laptops a week in advance, so on our first day, we didn't spend time setting up laptops like many firms. We were introduced to the culture of the organization, different divisions i.e. Mobility, U4B, Community Ops head came and explained about the future plans and most important challenges that Uber faces, where employees starve for 0.1% extra margin. We also had few ice-breaking sessions and a virtual DJ to end our orientation on a high note. My mentor also briefed me about the project and introduced me to the whole team So in nutshell my first week was informative as well as entertaining.
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?
In my Interactions till now, I found my colleagues super helpful. I ping my colleagues over slack and all of them are very quick to make sure I get the required help. Also, My mentor organized a 1-1 meet between me and the APAC region director to make me feel more inclusive in the organization. Plus he makes sure that other interns of the same division should feel inclusivity so that no one should feel left behind or out of track in an online setup.
In the upcoming days to leave the best impressions, I have set up 1 weekly and 1 mid-weekly check-in call, where we both can talk about the project and my progress status and life beyond. I also try to attend fortnightly and weekly vertical calls to meet new people and gather insights from their projects as well. Most of the ideas that I present here are unbiased something that Uber values a lot and look forward to from each of their interns to get the external perspective on the status quo. In order to make sure this impression lasts, I try to present my insights to my mentor from all the calls I was part of and continuously keep on communicating my ideas through data backing-something that Uber values a lot.
Tell us in brief, about the project you are currently working on and how is this project going to help the company?
Mobility is one sector that got highly affected due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
In Uber where business model revolves around people- Drivers, Customer, etc.
My project aims to onboard the driver-partner on the platform without physical intervention-virtual onboarding as we call it here. In the virtual onboarding process, I am also trying to reduce the cost of acquisition by increasing the productivity of the agents who approaches the driver-partner for onboarding onto the platform.
This project will help Uber to generate the required supply amidst the pandemic. Also, a paradigm shifts from existing channels of onboarding while keeping the cost minimized.
So clearly this project will help the firm in changing the future of mobility.
Give us an overview of how you prepared for your summer placement season.
Preparation for the summer started before even joining the IIM Lucknow when we received the email of making our Master CV.
At IIM Lucknow, we have a placement mentoring committee Team Disha, that helps us from CV iterations, HR answers, to case-solving till the day the whole batch gets placed in terms of reviews, case slots, and collating past year interview questions and experiences.
I also had gone through the same process where my day used to look like attending lectures till afternoon then goes for multiple CV reviews, HR answer preparation, and GD& case-solving slots till the night.
Also As a batch of 22 started MBA in online setup unlike any other batch, this team took care of our mental health by keeping a check on us, Glad to be part of such team this year :)
Based on your internship experience till now, what are some necessary skill sets one must be prepared with before starting an internship?
Before the start of the internship, have below pointers on your bucket list-
1) Experience sharing with seniors- It's extremely important to understand the firm's culture and what kind of projects the firm provides to an intern by talking to seniors both PPO and non-PPO holders. Moreover, this discussion will help you to make your Do's and Don'ts list.
2) Introductory email to Mentor/Manager- Before the start of the internship, One will get to know about the Mentor/Manager details, so introduce yourself proactively and ask about prerequisites and any skills that need to brush up before the joining date.
3) Expectation setting with Mentor/Manager-This discussion will help you understand the deliverables and ask of the project, also to keep you on track as in virtual setup of internship it's very easy to feel lost after a week or two.
What are some new skills that you have developed while working in the company?
Ideas generation is one of my strengths, However, in real business challenges, it's not just the idea that makes the difference but implementation that creates the impact.
I and my mentor meet twice a week, where every time I propose an idea, he asks me "tell me the scale of the problem" and "why should we invest", "how much impact this will create", Or "this may increase the cost for the firm" or "won't pass compliance", that's where I improved upon my business acumen, and Now I started evaluating everything(Impact-Effort prioritization) with a lot of data backing and analysis.
Also, I realized Internship is much more than solving cases on paper in MBA, here we need to give a lot of thinking on the cost side, compliance side -the factors which are extremely crucial for the firm.
What are some of the challenges that you have faced in your internship and how have you overcome them?
At Uber, time and effort are the most critical resources, and almost everyone is going beyond to see their idea going live. A few days back, I felt need of getting an analyst for dashboard creation for the implementation of one of my idea, But I wasn't able to get the bandwidth of the Analyst considering too many projects running in parallel. This made me feel I am about to fail in producing the results.
Then My mentor told me in one of our meet " ideas are something that comes naturally to MBA individuals, but the key is in execution, so if you think this idea will fail then fail fast". After hearing this, I didn't spend a single second waiting for analyst free capacity but tried writing scripts after watching few tutorials and had few sleepless nights, and the damn dashboard was ready!
As we say "if you learn from failure, you actually didn't fail"
Tell us about a situation where you were complemented by your Manager for your work.
It was around week 5 of my internship period, and my deliverables for that week was "finalize the ideas along with their implementation plan" and I generated around 25+ ideas in totality but in one of the two weekly meets, My mentor asked "why should I invest in these ideas?", "is it even a higher ROI idea?" , "As most of the processes that we have here are 90% of efficacy, can any one of these ideas bring it to 99%?" I took a back step then and created a prioritization matrix based on effort and impact dimension and compared each of my idea against it.
And after lots of brainstorming, I could refine the final few ideas. Moreover presented the scale of the problem that I am trying to solve, implementation plans of each idea, how these changes will fit into the existing system,and success metrics for the same. When I presented this deck to my mentor he appreciated me for my efforts and idea generation skill, and also encouraged me to present it to the director of the LOB. There also I got compliments for the work done.
What have been your major learnings during the internship?
Major Learnings so far-
1) When a real-life business problem will be thrown at you, don't bring the personal bias of your work experience, also there will be days in the internship period where you will feel stuck and exhausted, in that case just have to "hang in there" attitude.
2) Most of the work will require communication with different stakeholders and in those meetings ask as many questions as you can, just don't shy away, it helps to make the discussion richer.
3) Always evaluate each idea on the lift that it will create, the effort and cost it will require, and are there any compliance issues in order to implement it- something which we tend to miss out on while solving the cases in the classroom. This helps in differentiating good and great ideas.
4) Be minimalistic- There were few product-level changes I suggested at Uber, however, product-level changes require a lot of approvals and change needs to be at the global level. In such a situation think about how a similar thing can be done using operations hacks.
5) Be bold in decisions and challenge the status quo- As an outsider, an intern thought process is not biased for the firm's process, this not only helps an organization to get a different perspective but also, to build the business acumen for the intern.
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 jury was My mentor, Manager, Senior HR, and few stakeholders which I closely worked with. Idea generation is my key strength, during my 8 weeks of internship, I generated close to 25+ ideas to improve the process and implemented a few of them based on complexity, Success metric, the timeframe of the internship, stakeholder alignment etc.
I also talked about the ideas which I had to deprioritized either because the internship period was not sufficient to get the results, or the process was at a halt due to lockdown in multiple cities or stakeholders were not aligned, Moreover mentioned the way forward so that after me, someone can pick up the ideas and start from the point where I left off, and this way momentum will not be slow down. My manager was pretty impressed with my approach taken towards the problem, the most important question that he asked me was about my learnings out of this internship program, I summarized my learnings in 4 key pointers -
1) Be minimalistic and solve problems using ops hacks as product level changes require global level approvals- that can be a road blocker in given time constraints
2) Ask as many questions as you can, never assume anything
3) Think through the implementation from cost, compliance lens, etc. something that we miss out on in our classroom case solving
4) Be bold and challenge the status quo
After this response, My manager was quite impressed and praised my efforts.
Some advice that you would like to give to your juniors based on your internship experience.
Few pieces of Advice in the chronological orders that I want to give to the next batch are-
1) Prior to the internship, Interact with mentor and manager and ask about the prerequisites of the internship project and topics that needs to be brushed upon, this shows proactiveness towards the work and enthusiasm that an intern can bring to the table
2) Also discuss with PPO and non-PPO holders of your college about their internship experience and what could they have done differently to bag PPO
3) Interact with everyone in the team, book their calendars, and ask as many questions as you can about the organization culture and project work, this will help you understand Do's and Don'ts about the organization
4) Create Process Maps/ Customer journey to break down the problem at hand and think through the solutions with all the aspects in mind - cost, compliance, etc. which most of us don't include in our classroom case solving
5) In case of multiple ideas- list down the parameters on which, you want to judge any idea, that could be the timeframe of implementation, complexity, impact-effort prioritization, etc. and inform mentor/manager about the higher ROI solutions to showcase the approach and clarity of thoughts
6) Be well versed with your research before every mentor/manager call, on implementation plans of ideas, how they will fit into existing workflow, the scale of the problem & success metric etc., this reflects the confidence that you have in your brainchild
7) Lastly, always take multiple reviews on your ideas or final deck to get more insights which you might be missing throughout, as you may not invent every time but utilizing the ideas which already exists
What was one of the best moments according to you during your internship?
There are two moments which I would like to share, one of which was near to end of week 4 of the internship, where as per my project deliverable, I had to finalize the ideas which I would implement in the second half of my internship, I was quite stuck which ideas to be selected. Then I booked time with multiple colleagues to take their opinions and contemplate implementation plans on those inputs and prepared a final ideas deck. The next morning, I presented it to my mentor and manager, and they both liked the efforts I put in the deck that included the Problem statement, Scale of the problem, implementation phases, success metric to define the success of the ideas. This was one of the best moments when I got appreciation from both my mentor and manager.
The second such moment was in the final week of my internship when I was drafting the results that I obtained after the sprint and making my final presentation, My mentor gave me multiple tips and inputs to incorporate in the final ppt, I took those feedback quite seriously and made the changes and final deck came out very well, My mentor last minutes touch-ups were quite helpful and he texted me "All the best " message which made me feel that colleagues at Uber really want me to do well and I got amazing feedback during the final review and post the review also, My mentor texted me "that you nailed it in your presentation", which made me feel quite satisfied for all the efforts that I put.
Final Week Pic!
TIMELINE, PROCESS AND RULES
- You don't need to register on InsideIIM.com or on the Kampus App to take part in Summer Saga Season 8. Simply share your experiences in the Digital Diary. To maintain standardisation, every Digital Diary will have a few questions that you'll need to answer.
- Access all the Digital Diaries forms from here: Digital Diary 1 | Digital Diary 2 | Digital Diary 3 | Digital Diary 4 | Digital Diary 5
- Your overall submission will be evaluated on the following parameters:
-Completeness: This depends on the number of Digital Diaries you have filled.
-Value Addition: This depends on how in-depth your answers have been. The score for this parameter will be given by our Judges.
-Reach: This depends on how many unique people have read your internship experience once we publish the article. We maintain fair play, we will publish all the articles on the same day, so that you can also share the same in your network.
- There is also a title called, ‘Campus With The Most Interesting Interns’ that will be awarded to (a) the campus that submits the maximum number of entries and (b) the campus that submits the best quality entries (based on the score given by our judges). The minimum entries from campus to be considered for this title is 10. So, if you want your campus to win the title then make sure your classmates and other students from your b school share their experiences in this year's Summer Saga Competition.
PRIZES TO WIN
This competition is broadly divided into four categories. Refer to the table below to know more about prizes in each category.
Banking and Finance
Sales, Marketing and General Management
HR, Consulting and Others
|1st Prize||₹ 10,000||₹ 10,000||₹ 10,000||₹ 10,000|
|Runner Up||₹ 5,000||₹ 5,000||₹ 5,000||₹ 5,000|
The 1st Prize winner will also get a one-hour 1-on-1 career guidance session with an industry stalwart, from our panel of mentors in Kounsel.
ABOUT THE JUDGES
Every year, we have Campus Managers from some of the top companies (such as Reliance, HSBC, Flipkart, ABG, HUL, TAS, etc) judging the annual Summer Saga competition. We will release the details of the judges of Summer Saga Season 8 soon!
Check out the previous year's winners!
Maybe this will help you reflect and recall these two months as well (which can come in handy when appearing for interviews in the future). InsideIIM is the perfect platform to chronicle your experiences, your highs, your lows and everything in between.
So guys, what are you waiting for? Start writing! You have a voice. You have the experience. Make the best of it!