Flipkart is the Indian e-Commerce company and that is how most of us know it as. The two words describe the preparation that you might have to do for this firm. Flipkart doesn’t give the typical “Marketing” role to the interns; it gives a business development profile and it includes much more. This role would include, mostly marketing, analytics and strategy knowledge for the interview but actual internship experience would also require some knowledge about finance and supply-chain. The process that Flipkart follows is one or two rounds of group discussion followed by a personal interview. The group discussion would be on the topics related to the field of e-Commerce especially the Indian context of the same. The topics are seldom abstract and are related to the latest projects that Flipkart is doing or the latest trends in the e-Commerce space, be it government regulations, new technology, or ideation for new opportunities. For preparing for the group discussions it will be good if you can do a proper analysis of the e-Commerce space and ensure that you are aware of the fundamental numbers of this space. For the interview, you need to prepare your resume and about the company especially the four pillars which I will be discussing later. Flipkart has a strong affinity towards people who have a strong culture fit with the organization. So you need to see whether you have the required competencies and capabilities.
Flipkart, as an organization, is still known as India’s largest start-up. Over the years, it has added strength in numbers and size to its design, and the first thought anyone might have about an organization that has more than 23000 employees would be its complex hierarchical structure. I also went with the same mindset, but I was in for a surprise. Even today, Flipkart has the same start-up culture. Flipkart feels like one huge family living under the same roof. Flipkart has been able to manage the two major types of organizational structure which any MBA grad would know about – Organic and Mechanistic. At this stage in the organization’s life, Flipkart has been able to combine the advantages of free and innovative thinking associated with the organic structure and has been able to play to its advantage that mechanistic structure brings with hierarchy and speedy production process.
There are four core pillars on which the structure of Flipkart is built:
Audacity: Have the courage to think beyond the obvious. Dream big and work hard to achieve things that don’t exist and might not exist if someone didn’t take a risk. If this wasn’t a core principle, then many of the current success stories like COD, 2Gud, the pivot to manufacture sanitizers and masks inhouse, etc. might not even exist.
Bias for action: Don’t wait up for anyone and take responsibility for your tasks. As a Flintern, there were plenty of opportunities wherein I was left on my own, and I had to come up with solutions to problems that were faced by the larger team. When you make decisions impacting the whole team, you don’t just feel like an intern anymore. You are as much as a part of the organization as anyone else. As one of my mentors from Flipkart told me,
There is always space for the Flintern at the table!
Customer-first approach: Customer is the king! - we all might have heard this famous anecdote. At Flipkart, you live this way. Each decision, each new product that you launch, every new offer that you design, or any sale that is planned, all need to pass the test of – “What is in it for the customer?” If the answer is not clear, you are back at the drawing board trying to understand how the customer will be affected by the decision that you take. Only because of this reason today, the Flipkart brand is associated with the words “Trustworthy” and “Customer Friendly.” And I am not saying this just for the sake of it, my project dealt with understanding what people think and I have data to back this up.
Integrity: Be transparent in all your dealings; be it within the organization or outside. Each Flipkart employee takes pride in being faithful to the more significant cause and always keeps the company’s needs above theirs.
Due to the nature of the project, I won’t elaborate on the minute details of the work that I did in the last eight weeks, but I would like to talk about the type of project. Amidst this CoVid situation, any MBA intern was expecting a desk job project – something that would involve secondary research and something that wouldn’t add value to their learnings. That wasn’t the case at Flipkart. Even in this situation, I was pushed to go above and beyond to conduct market research also though it was from home. I was able to understand the Indian consumer psyche just as if I was interacting with them in real life. Flipkart managed to give me the closest possible experience of an on-site internship. I was able to put my theoretical learnings to practice, and, in the process, I also developed my knowledge base. All the knowledge accumulated in the first year of MBA was reinforced with the on-ground experience of the internship. This is one of the main reasons that each MBA student goes through a summer internship.
To enhance the learnings there were various leadership sessions that were held for the interns. Even though everyone was stretched because of the WFH experience and everyone was trying to adjust to the new normal, we had easy access to the top leadership and all of them were a mail away. The open culture and the emphasis on learning at Flipkart is something that is given the utmost importance. As any Flintern would tell you, the journey at Flipkart is not only about securing a PPO but proving to the top mettle that you have it in you to be the next CEO! And maybe that is the reason that Flipkart is proud of the numerous start-ups that have come up from ex-Flipsters.
I was mentored by one of the senior-level executives in the firm. This helped me in two ways: being trained by highly experienced people gave me the necessary understanding of the field and secondly helped me understand the way top leadership thinks. I was able to improve my communication skills, especially how to convey ideas succinctly to ensure a maximum effect in minimum time. Moreover, since we are mentored by someone so experienced, we get a top-down view of the work that we do, and hence it motivates us to look at the bottom-up approach ourselves. This results in digging and deep-diving about concepts, methods, strategies and much more. Because of this, I was able to understand the business minutely and was able to take home learnings, which I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
Apart from my mentor, my whole team was highly supportive. The team itself was so enthusiastic that on weekends we had discussions about topics not related to work but very much relevant to the type of work that we do. We discussed everything from the pandemic to current marketing trends. And when your team is like a fruit basket, there are a lot of opinions that are put forth, and each adds some more value to what you already know. But the internship wasn’t all work and no play. We have had our weekly dose of quizzes and fun activities. Interns were pushed to come up with engagement activities on their own. The internship is structured such that there is a balance between work and fun. Everyone in the team felt like one big family and not precisely colleagues, that is the level of interaction we all had.
The Inevitable End (or a new beginning?)
This internship has taught me a lot in terms of skills. I have had my fair share of mistakes, but as one of my mentors said,
Your successes are yours; your mistakes are the firms! And that is how you learn.
I go ahead with this learning from Flipkart today as I bid adieu to the FK family. I would like to extend my gratitude to the team for making me feel a part of a larger family despite the virtual internship experience.