Summer Placements at Business Schools in India - Time for a Rethink?


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I agree with your point that certain companies lack a structural and dedicated approach to summer internships (both in selection and internship phase), presence of which will definitely help in maximizing benefits derived by both the parties. Unfortunately, that's the only part of the article that made any sense to me. Initially you suggest that internship is an important learning process which effectively augments the classroom learning by giving you some hands-on approach. But then you go ahead and make a suggestion like "winter internship" which appears to side-step this philosophy and act as pseudo-selection process for final placement. In such a case, how do you intend to address a student's desire to apply only for large and well-known organization, since you are implying that such winter internships will lead to employment in respective organizations. I think we need to face some harsh truths here: a) Summer internships, while do provide some learning experience, have lost their ideal form. They are either approached as mandatory requirements (as you correctly mention) or as a stepping stone for final recruitment. Had they been a more holistic in approach, students would have been required to look for their own learning avenues by asking them to approach the companies on their own (as is the practice in many b-schools in western countries) b) Brands matter. While there are many stories of people moving from smaller companies to bigger ones, the fact remains that starting your career or for that matter doing an internship at a major firm distinguishes both you professional and personal growth. Had brands not mattered, people wouldn't have hogged so much for getting into an IIM. c)Seniors are really our only way of getting any knowledge about how any selection process (internship or finals) works. And please realize that the seniors people would seek advise from won't be the ones who "blew it" but those who "made it". Yes, the students must employ a "caveat emptor" attitude when following such advice, and smart ones do exactly that. They know how to best extract helpful information from all that has been laid out in front of them. d)Summer internship interviews are not "mere formalities". I don't know why this myth is propagated so much; may be this is also a reason why many students are not well prepared when facing the company. I appeared for at least 4 interviews of major companies during summers selection and none of them was remotely a cakewalk. While certain people might have experienced lighter interviews, it is wrong to assume that this is the norm. A note to site owner/moderator: While it is understandable that you wish to establish credentials of your authors, use of name of corporations implies some sort of professional input to have gone into this writing. I'd suggest that you either not use direct names and only describe the author's occupation (e.g. consultant at a major Indian business consulting firm) or at least add a disclaimer saying that "the views expressed here are entirely personal".

2 Jun, 2011 |

Charan Iyengar

@CSH, thank you for your views...some more points as a reply a. A suggestion for a winter internship is just an add-on because of the structure of the PGP program. Unless there is consensus by IIMs and companies overhauling the system is going to be impossible. Hence a winter internship (an addition) seems more viable. However I never mentioned that it solves the shortcomings of summer internship. b. Brands matter - but to what end? It is again the concept of someone failing once at Std X and never getting an opportunity to standup. Ideally looking for brands as an option is a lackadaisical approach by us, practitioners and recruiters to sidestepping the interview process. Isn't it really about the cover of the book and not content. Sadly marketing has overthrown that concept and made brand as the sole motivator. Remember, IIMs are a brand for a reason. Quality students. No one judges you by your face but by your actions. c. I would totally second this one. People are more forthcoming that what you imagine. They would like to know what went right from the people who 'made' it and what went wrong from the people who 'blew' it. That's how you get the whole picture. Sadly if you go to people who 'made' it you could only get a hunky-dory picture and probably end up as an under-prepared candidate as you correctly mentioned. d. Interviews not being mere formalities are far and few in between and that too for those companies who are really serious about their interns - again the same thing I've been harping about throughout. Take your interns seriously! For a good no. of companies it is a mere joke. And let us talk about the majority and not some handful of companies because my article wishes to make a generalization and not based on those few elite companies (they are on the right track so to speak).

2 Jun, 2011 |

Ankit Doshi

I do not mind if Summer Internships are academic in nature. But the truth is that they are not. For a lot of people 3 months in to an IIM, their career path is decided or they decide it themselves. Think about it, you start properly in November you're in the best companies even before you've gone beyond your basics. It's the companies who are having a party here. The only thing that matters to them is if a person has cleared the CAT. I'm sure companies will recruit in July if given an option. I don't think they care what is taught in the institute or the quality of the education. They just want aptitude. A summer internship is totally pointless for people with over 2-3 years of work experience...if your argument is that they do it in a different domain...sorry 40 days is too less a time to know anything about a company or to decide whether you'll like working in a new domain According to me, it should be made optional or people should be allowed to do other stuff like working in a NGO, doing workshops etc.

2 Jun, 2011 |

Charan Iyengar

People should be allowed to pursue internships in offbeat fields and more importantly they shouldn't be judged in their finals based on their internship. This is one of the biggest negative fallout that students are warned when they intern at smaller company. And as you say that before people move beyond basics they are placed, it says a lot about how companies end up feeling about b-schools. For them the 2 years of education doesnt matter, it is just the brand which counts. Also, when a person gets a PPO, she has the license to just spit over the entire program and make merry for the rest of the 2nd year.

2 Jun, 2011 |

Kartik Vyas

About Winter Internships: They do make a lot of sense, but sadly the only Top B-school that used to have it - NITIE has apparently decided to scrap it.

3 Jun, 2011 |

sandeep iyengar

Thank You Charan for a good insight.... I am joining XLRI BM this year.. The areas of further articles in this regard we would like to eagerly see from you would be 1)How do we decide which field we would like to intern in... wat qualities are necessary for particular fields.. 2)Nature of interview in summer intern Also is there any PM facility that i could contact you charan i had a few personal queries to ask.. could you pls mail ur mail id to the mail id i submitted here Nice work insideiim and team

3 Jun, 2011 |

Insideiim Admin

@Sandeep - Please drop a mail at charan.iyengar(at)insideiim(dot)com

4 Jun, 2011 |