Nervous jitters every now and then, excitement at its peak, calling up numerous friends and juniors and taking a look at the checklist of onboarding documents a hundred times. This more or less says it all about the morning of my first day of internship. Of the numerous times that I wore business formals during MBA, never before had I thought of actually flaunting it. I was taken aback by looking at people all around me so normal and casual? Am I the only one who is over-excited? Probably yes, and I had all the reason for the same. It was my first corporate stint as a fresher. The first ever of my life. A lot was at stake. I had heard so much about it – both good and not so good. Looking at my excitement, my fellow interns would say “You’re new to the corporate setup, we’ve been there; we’ll take a look at your excitement a week later.”
So, Wipro Limited it was. Now getting there was again another story! Amid a sea of deadlines and assignments, you will have companies lined up at b-schools to hire summer interns. After shortlisting candidates on the basis of a resume, companies will usually conduct group discussions & personal interviews.
GD: Simple, currently trending topics on which your institutes, seniors, faculty and committees will coach you is enough. Follow the general GD rules and fearlessly voice out your ideas. If your points are unique and out-of-the-box, panellists do take note of the same and delve deep into your viewpoint during PI. That’s the time when you can leave a mark!
PI: Mostly revolves around 2-3 main subjects of your domain and behavioural events through which interviewers try to analyse your domain understanding and company fitness. Steer the interview your way right from the very first sentence: your intro (prepare a strong one); yes you can do that (worked for me)! Try to convince them how you can add value to the organisation. Exude both confidence and poise.
Preparation tips: Each person is different; their brain, thinking, strengths and weaknesses are different. Each lock has a different key. Just believe in yourself and leverage your strengths to the fullest. Brush up on trending topics and at least 2-3 key subjects in your domain that you are confident of. Right at the beginning of the course, perfect answers would not be expected but the organisation would look for traits that fit their organisation and an outlook that can break the shackles of convention and add value. Most organisations look for ‘change and creativity’ in millennials. Be opinionated and stick to your views even countered. But the key is logic in creativity and vice versa.
So, I had been hired as an HR intern as part of WiSE (Wipro Summers’ Experience) to work on building future-ready managers. They had said it’s going to be a mix of competency gap analysis and designing learning interventions for managers. Well, it was so. But these jargons had always awed me until I discovered what they truly looked like in the organisational context. I had no idea what this new world had in store for me.
There were highlights I can’t help but mention. First and foremost, I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful mentor and a supportive team. Half of my work was sorted. I could discuss my work and progress anytime with my mentor and team. I made it a point to have a discussion not only with my mentor but entire team every weak and they were extremely nice to take out time for me every Friday. Post the discussion, I used to document the work done in the week and the next week’s plan and send the same to my mentor and team. I highly appreciate my mentor for sharing with me on the very first day my project topic, scope and deliverable. I then presented a structured layout of the plan which he approved. He then made me understand the organisational structure, context and significance of my project to the company in the very beginning. Being new, I hardly understood anything but gradually realised how important it is for an intern to know why he/she has been entrusted with a project and how he/she can contribute. I understood my mentor was a talented people manager and communicated expectations quite clearly.
There were incidents that were unexpected and surprising. Out of 240 interns, two of us had been invited on the basis of our profile to have a chat on our personal achievements and Wipro experience with the RJ of Corporate Communications Team. It was a freewheeling interview of about 10 minutes that aired on Wipro On Air and flashed on all Wipro laptops and desktops across the globe. It was no less an achievement to have featured in the Podcast that was accessed by all employees of Wipro across locations.
Initially, I was lucky enough to settle down fast in a city that was completely new to me. Well, your internship experience is not only limited to the interiors of your cubicle but a holistic one encompassing so many elements that impact even a minor change in the way you think or do something. A few years back, I’d never have thought of travelling all by myself and exploring places in Gurgaon! Apart from learning and sharing knowledge, building close connections and networks that are common to all interns, major takeaways from these two months for me were realisations, and I’m sure these are also common to most, the difference being they aren’t vocal. What I learnt from my short stint at Wipro:
Don’t be judgemental. Hailing from the cultural hub of India, I was always very apprehensive about the culture of the workplace, whether it would be accepting or inclusive. The attention is given to and treatment of an intern would be different from an employee. But the culture is not specific to an organisation but its people and hence prone to change with its people. The team greeted me, sent out emails welcoming me as a new member. Apart from working, we had meals and fun together too! Actually what happens doesn’t always happen for good but for a reason: I was the only intern placed at Gurgaon hence, I got ample time and scope to bond with my team on and off work.
In order to become efficient people managers in future, you need to understand the organisation and its people. You don’t build the business right away but build people; they build your business. Managers do a lot of work that way. Your internship period is the best time to learn the same.
Observe beyond the requirement. I was so strongly fascinated by the world of talent and appraisal that I spent a major chunk of my stint observing the employees around while working and otherwise. Each behaviour exhibited by them is indicative of something relevant to the work they do or how they should be. For a fresher like me, this period was a good deal of learning and provided insights into the intricacies of the business world. While gearing up bigger corporate endeavours that await me, this exposed me to how the various HR domains function in close coordination with each service line or business unit.
Network as much as you can. People at Wipro at all levels are extremely approachable. They used to chat with me for long hours and help me understand the organisation, their transition from services to digitalisation and stuff that are not a direct part of my scope but all of which helped me related my goals to what the organisation wanted. And they were senior folks: people with more than 15 years of industry experience. All you got to do is just drop them a mail or send a meeting request!
Plan your work but don’t just stick to your plans. There is so much hype about dealing with change. For an intern, it is as simple as dealing with changing scope and deliverables of your project every day and accordingly accommodating and reviewing plans to deliver on predefined deadlines. From each new input that you get from interaction with senior leaders from the industry, do away with a part of your existing knowledge to accommodate or replace the same. Be prepared to work on multiple projects clubbed into one. Be an active listener and from various inputs, form your own opinion. Chart out timelines and plans but know that there might be times when nothing will seem to go your way. That’s the time when you need to keep cool, embrace ambiguity and flexibility, sit with your mentor and team and redesign your approach/methodology. And this may happen multiple times during the course!
Parties! Well, my entire team seemed like-minded when it came to parties and fun. I luckily got to be a part of a couple of formal parties that the team organised for a member’s birthday, another’s farewell and of course, my farewell. These little moments teach you big things about your team, their bonding and cohesiveness. Right from induction, Wipro has been pampering me with customised goodies. My farewell was memorable and special as no intern would expect one. Apart from the gifts, I received from my team and the book from my mentor, their one-minute speeches “You revived the child in us, youngster!”, “Stay lively and gleeful like this always” really moved me! It has been two months and it seemed like they knew me for years: I guess that’s experience! I felt exactly the way I had felt on the first day of joining: a multitude of emotions and inexplicable!
Apart from all of these, the prime source of satisfaction comes when you are appreciated for your work and your mentor and review panellists assure you that your work will be implemented in due course. “It was a pleasure having you around.”, “We would love to work with you.”, “It would be great being part of the same team” just makes your day! Although I’d say the industry is way different from what is portrayed in courses and case studies and I acquired a major chunk of MBA learning from my internship experience, I can’t deny that basics do have their role to play even today: concepts from Learning & Development course came really handy.
For future interns, I’m not the best person to share tips but somehow, I have shared many already in this article. However, these are all personal. The kind of person that I am and the methodology I adopted led me to these takeaways but they might be very different from yours next year. Just remember that although internship is a matter of luck, I feel the ball is still in your court. You have to connect and reach out to people in different ways. When things don’t go your way, you’re not going the right way. Change track. That’s what actually happens in companies. Your internship will surely teach you that in some way! The second thing is: You have been hired for a reason, a specific project! Hence the association is symbiotic: Most companies now look to absorb talent from interns itself as they have an idea about them through their two months’ work and conduct. Remember you are being observed constantly by your mentor, team and all those around you even when you least expect, so be on guard. But then again, have fun: This is the time when you’re not an employee but apparently, you are! You have a lot of privileges and so, enjoy your experience!
Well, the bottom line is that coming fresh from college, in the student bubble we are warned of many things about the corporate world, but until we face them they are just warnings! Wipro has helped break a couple of such bubbles in a quite positive way. I had expected a rich learning experience at a personal and professional level which was fulfilled in every possible way.
About the Author:
XAHR (formerly XIMB-HRM)