Vivek Kumar’s Internship Experience At Indian Grameen Services
In words of Eleanor Roosevelt – ‘The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience” and summer internship gives an opportunity and reason to taste and live newer and richer experience.
I interned at Indian Grameen Services, a Basix Group affiliate company which acts as an R&D wing of Basix India. I was given a problem statement where I was supposed to come up with a new start-up incubation and investment funding business model.
The assignment was for 8 weeks but I had planned for 7 weeks for myself and kept a week or so as a buffer period to meet some ad-hoc changes.
The 7 weeks I planned this way:
Week 1: Adapt to the work culture of the firm, meet people, get to know who is who, understand their style of working and communicating. Everyone, I believe has their own style of doing things and communicating. Communication does not mean speaking and writing good English, which no doubt is important, but more than anything it’s about understanding the pulse of the opposite person and getting a hang of how they decode the information, the jargons they use in their communication, the way they express themselves and like that. As, I have worked earlier also for a good period of time and what I have found that this is something that really sets the tone for the journey ahead irrespective of whether you are on full time or part time, on short assignment or long assignment whatever, this always works. My sole aim during week 1 was to talk to as many people as possible and explore more about the problem statement. Different perspectives do matter and later helps in proposing a better solution.
Week 2 &3: This was a period of doing a lot of homework. My nature of work was a mix of office and field work so in order to do get most out of fieldwork, it was important to do a good homework. So, most of the during this phase I was busy reading. I read like anything. Just to give an idea, I did a good analysis of more than 70 companies and finally narrowed to 50+ as per relevance to capture some meaningful insights. This was also because of the fact that first, this sector was new to me and second, this is a very interesting area so I never got bored. By the end of the week 3, I was in a good shape in terms of knowledge gathering and was also ready with a draft version of the questionnaire. The reason I call it a draft version because theoretical and practical aspects are two different things. What may look good on paper may not turn out to be the same on the field. So, I kept things a bit flexible with an aim to solidify it as and when needed with the passage of time.
Week 4 & 5: These 2 weeks were dedicated solely to primary research which included field work, telephonic interviews, email conversations etc. The field work was limited to in and around Kolkata. I visited more than 5 places and conducted more than 12 interviews through other channels. The most difficult part was field work and that too in the heat of Kolkata travelling in local trains. It was painful but it taught me a lot too. The most important takeaway was that no matter from which b-school you are, to get things done you need to get down to basics as most of the places I visited was extremely remote ones and most of the people I was talking had no idea what I was talking. Remember I told about keeping flexible questionnaire earlier. Now I had to restructure it all over again and had to find out an alternate way of not only asking questions but also questions those were very simplified and made sense to them yet giving me the same insights I was looking for. This was real life isolated from business and MBA jargons. On the other hand, some people I interacted were extremely qualified and same questions looked too easy to them. So what next? Again same thing, restructure everything. These 2 weeks went like that and by the end I was having good data to reflect upon later
Week 6: This was consolidation phase. It was all about reflecting upon the data collected and homework done prior to that. The biggest challenge here was establishing a sync between what I collected through online medium and what I collected through primary research.
Week 7: By the end of week 7, I was ready with PPT and also had reviewed it a couple of times. The week ended with a presentation and overall it went well. There were a couple of observations here also which I incorporated in coming week i.e. buffer time, week 8. That marks the end of a wonderful 2-month journey.
- Be flexible and receptive to changes: This is the core of learning. The firm I worked earlier had a different culture, b-school has different and so was the case with this firm. Being flexible and receptive to changes helps in quick acceptance by other side and also delivering better results
- Communication skills do play an important role: This goes without saying how important is this. You would have noticed, the volume of interaction I had to do and the way I needed to customise things so often. This would not have been possible without proper communication.
- Documentation and measurable work: This is often much-underrated thing and most often people find it very tiring and repetitive to do so but it’s very important. It’s easy to quote something that is easily measurable but the problem starts when someone asks you about your day’s work and instead of doing good work you are not able to present it in the manner it deserves to be. After all, you have worked hard and it deserves the right justice.
- Proper homework: Homework lays the foundation for the work ahead. If you look, I had to do a lot of homework in first 3 weeks to set the tone right for the coming weeks. I was able to adjust quickly in week 4 and 5 only because I had my foundations solid.
- Responsibility and accountability: I was doing this assignment alone and hence there was always a sense of risk involved and fear of what if I mess up things? Also, for any lag most probably I will be held responsible. It does involve risk but also helps in character building
- Hard work, hard work and hard work: Nothing can beat the hard work. All glitters and shine makes sense only when you are deserving of that and being deserving only comes from hard work and unfortunately, there is no substitute of that.
- Ask, ask and ask: The Professional world does not work on emotions. It works on data, facts, figures, logical arguments and judgement. Don’t be afraid to ask at any point of time and most importantly don’t make self-assumptions. It doesn’t care what you think or thought rather it works on binary yes-no mode.
- Enjoy the journey: Life is short, this b-school journey is short and so is this internship. Don’t have a grudge, just enjoy the journey. Do a good job, make it count and prove your worthiness and give them some reasons to miss you.
Overall, a great time and got great learning opportunities. In words of Dr. Seuss to end – “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”