Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Perfect Summer Internship

Hello and welcome to Abhijith's Internship Experience. Get ready to be swept for a crazy ride filled with gigantic excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations and an ungodly amount of leg/butt cramps from sitting and staring at a laptop all day......well if you haven’t immediately closed your web browser after reading that exciting introduction, I can tell that you really want to learn about the MBA internship experience (or facebook is not open in your office and you need to kill time somewhere else).

I am into the last fortnight of my summer internship here at Tata Steel, and I have begun to consider the things that I wanted to have accomplished before I leave here on June 12th.

Notwithstanding the current (read BAD, but improving) market conditions in which we have found ourselves, it can still be difficult to find perspective on the "goal" of an MBA internship. Therefore, in the spirit of blogging and to make my friends feel better about my chances after I finish here and try to find a job, I have decided to filter my experiences here in the context of "a dream summer internship".

Without further ado, here are my top 10 ingredients of a perfect summer internship.

1. Work somewhere you can make a difference. It should come as no surprise that if you can't contribute materially, it's very unlikely that you or your employer will enjoy your attempts to "drive value and create synergies throughout the value chain" (insert some other MBAisque quote here). I took an offer I knew I could contribute to, and have been busy contributing since day 1. Trust me I am :)

2. Work somewhere that is challenging. No problem here either. I am working in a role that I do have some relation to(industrial products), but in a completely new industry. Without this ingredient one could get bored... not an option for an over-achieving B-school student.

3. Work for a firm that will add value to your resume. Again, check. Tata Steel certainly undergoing a test of its business model and maybe posting losses, but Tata is still Tata and their name is definitely a strength to my resume.

4. Clarify your role and responsibilities before accepting. This is something I could have done better one, because clearing up any miscommunications makes it a lot easier to "hit the ground running".

5. Don't be a jerk. Many of your peers will work for lesser-known firms, while still others will work for bigger and more prestigious firms. Who CARES! Never forget that many of the worlds richest individuals left B-School without an offer and then started their own firms. You never know who will be successful and who won't, so be cool to everyone.

6. Have fun. Do it while being true to the company that took the risk to hire you as an intern. Having fun means a lot and certainly the two months of internship are a relief from the stress and workload of a B-School. Go on trips, have weekend parties, meet old friends.

7. Network more with the people whom you work with. This could be with your guide, with other people working in the firm and certainly be good friends with the interns from other colleges. You can never tell when you'll need to make a call to one of those guys.

8. Look forward to getting more work. This is important because if you don't look forward to doing work, it does show on your attitude in the office and the guide and others might notice this as a sign of weakness in you.

9. Be smart in your analysis. Try to impress the audience, not by using snazzy animations in your presentations, but by having done good work in the field and then analyzing the data you've got. The analysis is as important as the data collection; as one project guide said the hard work is in getting the data, but the smart work is in doing the analysis. So be a smart intern in addition to being a hard-working intern.

10. Get a job offer. No matter how awesome you feel now, the job market is a strange beast and can change at any moment. Do everything you can to head back to school with a future job locked down. This is an essential ingredient of the "perfect" MBA internship.

If you collect all 10 of these ingredients, you will head back to school with the quiet satisfaction that comes from a job well done and enjoy a 2nd year much better than your first...

At least that's what I'm telling myself right now :-)