How To Ace Your Marketing Internship – Tips From An HUL PPO Holder

When Rajan said, “You’re so lucky to have bagged a PPO from Unilever”, I gently nodded my head in agreement, but deep down I knew that it wasn’t just luck. It was luck meeting the meticulous execution of an ardent marketer’s dream. A dream that I had envisioned close to a year back. A dream that fuelled me to do my best, a dream that made me out perform, a dream that came true. Today, as I see scores of freshmen ablaze with the fire to crack summers at the doyens of marketing world (HUL, ITC, P&G, RB, Nestle, Marico, among others) I feel the need of sharing my preparation journey with them. What follows is months of planning penned down into a brief set of words, here it goes:

(a) Start with the Bible:

Skills assessed in a marketing interview can be summarised into three essential components:
1) Knowledge of Marketing concepts
2) Ability to improvise & to think on your feet while applying these concepts
3) Awareness of brands, product portfolios & current marketing scenario

There’s no marketing without “Kotler”, it most appropriately is referred to as “the Bible of Marketing”. Before you kickstart your marketing journey it is essential for you to have a thorough understanding of basic concepts like 4Ps, STP, Branding, Customer Insights, Value Proposition, among a plethora of others. It is advised that you read the entire Kotler before your summers, but given the jam-packed schedule of freshmen, it is imperative to do the most important parts first: Kotler Chapter No. 2, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15 & 20.


(b)  The Frameworks:

Having armed yourself with the armour of theory, you need to learn the art of applying the right theory in a given concept. The arena of marketing is constantly evolving: the way people eat, bathe, think, communicate changes over time. There’s a constant interplay between marketing & societal changes. As a marketer, you are required to respond to these changes while exhibiting “Bias-for-action” & for doing the same an adept knowledge of marketing frameworks comes in handy. Some frameworks that you should definitely know:

  1. Crafting a GTM (Go-To-Market) strategy
  2. Making market entry decisions
  3. Launching a new product
  4. Resurrecting profitability
  5. Market sizing / Opportunity Sizing (Guesstimates)

(c)  Ad-Analysis:

Marketing & advertising are intertwined, more like foster sisters!

As a consumer, all of us have our favourite ads, the ones that give us a kick, instantly. From the iconic ads of “Humara Bajaj” & “Amul the Taste of India” to the contemporary ads of “Dove Real Beauty” & Surf Excel’s “Daag Acche Hain”, we have had a timeless memory of appreciating TV ads as a consumer. It’s now time to revisit these ads and to look at them from a marketers lens. These become a critical talking point in all interviews. Remember, when your favourite Toothpaste brand asks you to brush your teeth twice every day, it’s most definitely because they care for you but also because they want to increase your frequency of daily consumption and thereby grow the market size.

Pull your marketing cloaks and analyse every element of the add: The setting, the colours, the proposition, the brand ambassadors, the verbiage and every other element possible.

(c) Knowing the Status-Quo:

“Longevity is very short in the Marketing world”

From the changing role of women, children, elderly and pet in the family to the changing habits of people: how they dress, how they celebrate festivals, whom they vote for or what they eat. The Marketing world is constantly evolving. On one parallel it bears the power of changing societal norms, customs and habits, while on the other it constantly tailors itself to the trends and transitions of the society. To predict & decipher this change a Marketer should not only have upto the minute update of the Status-Quo but also be able to predict disruptions that would change the face & fate of the market in future. As a marketing aspirant, it is therefore imperative to keep reading blogs and books on marketing. It doesn’t take over a minute of googling to be flooded with a sea of marketing blogs. From the perspective of your summers here are a few books that you might consider reading:

1.) Nawabs, Nudes, Noodles : India Through 50 Years Of Advertising

2.) Pandeymonium: Piyush Pandey On Advertising

3.) We are Like That Only: Understanding the Logic of Consumer India

Parallel to this functional preparation, you are expected to back your marketing acumen with a strong preparation of HR answers and behavioural questions.

All the best!
Now is the time to start. Happy Summers.

Pratik Ranjan

Pratik is an MBA candidate at IIM Lucknow. He is an ardent aspiring marketing strategist. His passion for marketing multiplied multifold post his internship with Unilever, where he was conferred with a PPO. Bitten by the entrepreneurial bug & seized by afflatus to read, write & explore, this twenty-something believes in the power of dreaming with his eyes open. He is a columnist in various newsletters and is up for any discussion that involves the nuances of marketing and strategy. P.S: He's charged by the fuel of caffeine.



Hassan Anjum

Hey Pratik, thanx for this article mate. Surely going to follow what you have mentioned over here. Can you please tell me from which edition you mentioned the chapter numbers from Kotler?