The Interiors of an Internship – Experience with Citi (Operations & Technology)

Looks like I waited long for this opportunity to come along; an opportunity to exactly make an online record of my “internship experience with Citi”, because I have searched the same words on Google a thousand many times, (from the day I was selected for Citi’s summer internship till today, when I found another co-intern of mine having written down his experience), and still wasn’t able to find a satisfactory blog of an intern in the Operations and Technology unit of Citi. I dearly hope to fill this small dearth of information in the online space.

Having worked for two years, and jumping back to an academic schedule, and quite a hectic one at that, can sometimes leave you craving for work. Not that academics was taxing or boring, but that an MBA curriculum is so practical, that you just can’t wait to put to use, the abundance of knowledge you’ve acquired in a span of a year. Such was my state of mind, when I ventured out to intern with Citi – A thirst to take up challenging tasks, to play the corporate game in the corporate field, and Citi was surely a great field to play.

There were certain myths that I had in mind, about plush offers, that Citi managed to break.

Myth 1: You would be working dog hours right from day one

I was expecting a roadmap, a list of tasks assigned, and to be completely busy right from my first day. Well, I was wrong. No one tells you what exactly to do or how to do, in short, no one spoon feeds you. They surely are there to guide you (only when you seek for help), but you figure out  your roadmap, sub tasks, and your everyday to-do lists from the broad definition of your project they provide. You fine tune your own project, give it a direction and start taking up tasks. The initial few days setting up the base will be light on you, and those dog hours will dawn on you, only when you have achieved the clarity needed and that sometimes happens to be not long before the project is due.

Myth 2: Your boss will always mind or monitor you.

Bosses are too busy to keep track of you or monitor you. When you are taken up for managerial roles, you are expected to be your own boss. You are expected to take initiative, in a big way. At times, taking initiative is all that matters, and a boss tracks just that. (If not, you’ve got to show him that). Unlike in entry roles, where not doing something draws the boss’ attention, in managerial roles you need your skills to speak for you; your talent and quality of work should draw your boss’ attention.

Myth 3: Banking Managerial roles are desk roles

If you thought so too, you are just way off the mark like me. Managerial roles, mostly the ones in O&T, will keep you on your toes.  I had to meet a number of stakeholders, discuss with both in-house employees and vendors, to create a solid base for my project.  You have to shrug off your inhibitions, speak the vernacular language where necessary, talk to people who are super busy (sometimes too busy to respond), follow up on tasks dependent on others (i.e. getting things done), all of which is easier written than done. When you actually go about doing them – that there is an experience, that there is the actual learning.

Myth 4: You apply what you learnt

Most of us believe and expect our internships to be an application of what is learnt. That is not completely true. You don’t apply concepts, you apply the skills you developed while learning those concepts. Internships teach you a different syllabus altogether. They bring to fore, your ability to learn, to think clearly in a structured way, to use different perspectives, to give attention to detail, to be thorough and exhaustive.

Myth 5: Challenges are of the higher intellectual levels.

Maybe. But mostly the tasks are quite simple. You surely can work your way around. But what matters is the execution. Execution demands a lot more than just intellect. It needs all of what makes a manager – interpersonal skills, assertiveness, clear communication, non-judgemental attitude, and a positive personality. Challenges therefore are more of the personal and personnel level.

My project was a simple rationalization exercise that gave me a sneak-peek into a manger’s everyday-work.  Citi pampers its employees big time, and you would surely feel the need to give it all your best.   A nice tip for future interns would be to get you excel skills top-notch – it will surely come in very handy – and your networking skills, a notch higher.