Before I speak about my internship, I have to make one thing clear: the experience is very different for each individual and whatever ‘gyan’ that I may spill in this article is just my perspective and should thus be taken with a pinch of salt. With that out of the way, let me describe the first year of MBA followed by an amazing two months at R P Goenka Group of companies.
Similar to any new MBA entrant, I too considered Summer Internship Placement (SIP) to be a towering mountain. The intimidation from seniors as well as the concerns of my friends didn’t help my case either. So, I also went into GD sessions, innumerable CV make-overs and interview practices. Although I will accept that they were not completely useless, in hindsight, I now feel that the effort to impact the ratio of these were pretty low. Rather I should have focussed on improving my domain knowledge, an area where I was lacking. This became pretty evident during my final interview with the CHRO of Zensar technologies, who although impressed by my overall performance, commented that I should focus on reading more about HR.
The next two terms went in a flash with the much-acclaimed XL culture giving me the time of my life. I was always concerned about the Summer Internship. This was reinforced by the constant advises from multiple professors. However, I didn’t venture much into learning much about my internship as the project topic was not known. On thinking back, I will advise anyone reading this to follow the same as actually, this doesn’t matter much. Just focus on your course-work diligently.
I got my project topic two weeks before my internship started, which was incidentally in the middle of my end-term examinations. I followed the usual routine of talking to contacts who had interned with RPG as well as the routine reading of journals. I would recommend that you talk to your seniors who interned with the company previously, not to understand your project per se (because trust me, they also may be as clueless as you are), but to get an idea of the company and the people you are going to work with. Because, as a wise man once said: “MBA is all about networking”.
The first two days of my internship were spent in induction where the RPG Group enterprises had a well-structured program which included meeting with top leadership and group activities. Later, I moved to KEC International Ltd, the company within RPG where I would be interning for the next two months. The first 14 days of the internship were spent on understanding what the company expects from me. I will emphasize that this is the most important phase of your internship. I believe that many assume what is expected of them based on the project title and description provided for them. Each project is given, at least in RPG, because of a challenge that the company is facing at that moment. You will have to interact with a variety of people in the top and middle management. Although you may get many irrelevant points, filter out and understand what the crux of the issue is. Another important stakeholder will be your guide and buddy. They will be your direct point of contact for any help needed during the project. Leverage them to the fullest potential. If they are not able to give time, try to identify opportunities to get their time. Pester them totally for information, because trust me, in the end, they will just be happy that you finished a project whose completion was their responsibility too.
The next phase is the secondary research. I used various research papers by many consulting firms like Deloitte and McKinsey as my project topic was not a conventional one and thus was coming into vogue recently. Understand what you need to do and chart out a plan. After creating a plan, run it through your guide and also as many people whom you identified as resourceful during the first interaction. This, while providing you with newer perspectives, could also help in creating a good impression on people whose opinion will be taken before deciding the “coveted” PPO. It is better to avoid toxic people from this stage on.
Have daily meetings with your guide. One thing I did, which helped me, was that at the end of the week, I used to mail the progress of the project to the Head of my Department along with the next week's agenda. These steps ensured that I was going in the right direction, as required by the company and not wasting time in irrelevant stuff.
In the final two weeks, when your project is almost ready, it is a good idea to show your final draft to the senior leadership and get their opinion. They are the people who usually will be present during your final presentation. You could thus avoid some difficult questions which they would have otherwise asked during your final presentation. Also, it is a great advantage to have some friendly faces in the judging team on that fateful day.
I was able to complete my presentation satisfactorily. I guess, that would explain me being selected for the Arjuna Awards, which is a competition that RPG Group has for the Best Internship Project. Though I didn’t get the prize, it was a great experience to present your beloved project to the top leadership and get appreciated for a job well done.
Final Gyan: Just get involved in the project. Consider it as your “baby” and thus nurture it and have an ownership of it, because PPO/PPI are all based on many extraneous forces over which you don’t have any control. However, the satisfaction that you will get as well as the self-development that you will go through on doing a great project is priceless. Other things will not matter to you then.