This year, we saw a lot of news revolving around summer internships being deferred, or even canceled. For those who did go through with their internships, it was a unique opportunity for this was probably the first time they had to handle an internship virtually. It’s not just the students who were learning, but also the companies who rapidly adjusted their processes to ensure that their interns could work properly and productively during the virtual internship.
In today’s feature, we bring you eight unique internship experiences from students across the country who all interned with the Food and Beverage giant - Nestlé India.
Excerpts from the Interviews:
Q. Take us to that moment where you learned that your internship is going to be online.
Manish Gahalout: My immediate reaction could very well be summarized in one word ‘disappointment’. Moreover, due to a sudden lockdown and the ensuing cancellation of flights, I was stuck in Mumbai. I moved into a friend’s house after a week or so, stocked up on basic necessities, and I was all set for this new and unprecedented experience.
Sitar Nakul Joshi: I was a bit upset that the internship was going virtual this year, as I thought I would be missing out on many things. I was concerned with the fact that I was not going to meet my colleagues and have a collegial learning experience. However, the HR team at Nestlé India put in a lot of effort to ensure that we had a smooth onboarding experience and also kept us engaged throughout.
Q. Tell us about your work-from-home internship experience. What were some of the challenges you faced? How did your mentors help you overcome these challenges?
B Naveen: Nestlé India designed its project in such a fashion that it was executable from the work from home situation standpoint. In the initial phases of my internship, the major challenge that I faced was connecting with the people and getting the right information and data from them on time owing to the fact that the stakeholders themselves had busy schedules. But in due course, I was able to get in the flow and successfully managed to connect with all the necessary stakeholders and for this, I really am thankful to the people who managed to chalk out the time.
Akanksha Chattopadhyay: For me, challenges were nothing but opportunities to learn. Whenever I faced a roadblock, I would go, “Great! Will get to learn something new now”. Working in collaboration with multiple stakeholders, both internal and external to the company, under strict deadlines was challenging. By enabling me to take ownership of my work, my mentors helped me overcome the challenges and take back learnings from the process.
Q. Tell us a little about the work culture at Nestlé India.
Manne Lakshmi Sowmya: The work culture is very supportive and looks at the holistic development of every individual. My guide and buddy were supportive, constantly providing me with learnings as I implemented them in my project. There were multiple discussions with the entire team regarding my project. Even though the team hadn’t met me personally, I felt that I was included. The HRs were continually checking if everything was going smoothly. Although I couldn’t interact with everyone personally, it was still a very enriching experience, and I am happy.
Mehul Bhola: In the days before my evaluation, I saw my mentor pushing her limits by sitting for hours with me, even during the night, and having early morning calls, just to refine my presentation and ensure that I don’t underdeliver any of my work. Apart from this, the informal group meetings where we used to discuss everything, but work to enjoy each other’s virtual company, it also includes a virtual farewell given by the team, and I’ll be always grateful to them for allowing me to be a part of it.
Q. Tell us about some memorable moments from your internship.
Malavika Menon: My project had a phase where I was supposed to attend a workshop with Nestlé India employees from across the world. I got the opportunity to interact with and learn from talent across the globe. That chance to engage with international colleagues and work towards a common goal, albeit on a virtual platform was very enriching.
Manish Kumar Mishra: Just two days before my mid-review, my father met with an accident and had to undergo multiple surgeries. Being an intern, I was terrified of letting my personal problems get in the way of my professional work. But, as soon as I informed my mentor about this, he went out of his way to help me and got the mid-review postponed by two weeks. This instance strengthened my belief in Nestlé India, as it stood true to everything the firm stands for.
Q. What was your project about? How did you manage your project, knowing that you had to depend only on data, and virtual interactions to complete it?
Akanksha Chattopadhyay: I worked on a total of four projects. All the projects were quite challenging and were directed in four different directions. I would do my background study thoroughly and dig as deep into concepts as possible for greater clarity. Also, I would constantly be in the loop with my guide and buddy, which resulted in my work and progress always being aligned with them. This helped me get vital feedback and guidance which I would channelize positively and incorporate them in my work as I progressed.
Manne Lakshmi Sowmya: My project was about optimisation and automation in the ‘Order to Cash’ process. As the first step, I started interacting with various teams under O2C to have a detailed understanding of the process. I analyzed the data to identify gaps that can be bridged. I had to connect with various stakeholders for data and discussions, so I used to fix appointments with people and continuously followed up with them. Sometimes, I used to mail all the questions that I had, so that if they were busy, they could reply. I think my streamlined approach helped me sail through this project smoothly.
Mehul Bhola: I worked on two projects, one of which was a market launch for a new product. It was more strategy-driven and involved understanding the industry in-depth, so for that, I went through multiple industry reports and discussions with the mentors. Virtual interactions never really caused much trouble. The second project involved dealing with multiple internal and external stakeholders, which at times became challenging because of this virtual set up but after the initial few days, I got the hang of it and managed it well.
Q. What was your biggest learning from this internship?
Sitar Nakul Joshi: I learned that problems should be viewed holistically and recommendations should be given with a clear approach, pros-cons, and overall short-term and long-term implications. Apart from digging up data and secondary research, it is also important to interact with the various stakeholders to get a complete picture of the issues.
B Naveen: I discovered a weakness that I needed to work on. In one of the projects, I wasn’t able to get a clear understanding of the way ahead and what exactly was to be done. I realised that there will be multiple situations in my professional life ahead where I would be handling projects that I won’t have a complete understanding of, but that should not be a hurdle to draw up a roadmap.
Q. Any advice you would like to give to your juniors, who want to intern in a top company like Nestlé India?
Manish Gahalout: Before you start an internship, it‘d be great if you go through the Annual Financial Report for the current and last year’s financial year. More, having a preliminary understanding of the organization's history, its vision, mission, and values, go a long way in providing you a context and a great start to your internship.
Manne Lakshmi Sowmya: Be thorough with the basics of whichever function to which you are applying. Having good domain knowledge, and showing clarity of thought is essential. Be positive when you prepare, and try to speak as openly as possible.
Malavika Menon: I would ask them to be confident, poised, and diligent. It isn’t easy to get a Nestlé India internship, but showcasing your skills and your enthusiasm goes a long way in making it to the very end.