PPO converter – Sheryn Samson from IIM Trichy shares his Summer Internship Experience


My Summer Internship Experience (Converted into a PPO)

One fine day, I got a mail stating that a certain company is coming for placements in my b-school – IIM Trichy. Initially, I was a little sceptical about sitting for it. But when I researched about the company, I realized it was one of the best hyper-growth startups in the country and it had grown so immensely in the past few years to such an extent that it was contentious to term it as a startup anymore. Once I got placed there, I was really excited to intern in the organization given the potential learning that was there for the taking.

It was March of 2020. My first year in college was about to end. Everything was set – until Covid-19 happened.

We were all sent home from college and a nationwide lockdown was announced soon after. Our exams were still pending for the last term of 1st year. And once those were done, all of us were eagerly waiting for communication from our respective companies since everything became uncertain overnight – like, literally.

Some got their internships started on time albeit working from home with a stipend as promised. Some started with a pay-cut. Some got their internships postponed. While some even got them revoked. It was a nightmare for all of us because of the entropy. No one expected their internship experiences to be this way. Everyone thought, “Alright. March – exams end. April 1 – internship starts. May 31 – internship ends. June 1st week – we all return back to college and rag the juniors under the disguise of hellraisers.”

Well, anyway, mine was postponed by two months and started only by the end of May – at a time when most were completing their virtual internships. My company wanted it to be a live internship. They cut short the internship by a month but kept the stipend unchanged. I could not complain since I was also hoping for a live internship because working from home destroys the experience, the learnings and the takeaways that you can get from an internship – one of the most important phases of an MBA, if not the most.

So, the company at that time was expanding its operations into tier-2,3 cities and wanted each intern to go to one such city and takeover the sales and operations there. I was assigned one such city. Although it was close to where I live, there was a problem with that since I had to procure an e-pass since it was a different state. All my e-pass applications got rejected and I had to figure out a way myself to reach the place.

On arriving, I was asked to report to work in the very next morning by the city manager who was already handling the sales and operations for that city and after briefing through the entire work, I was all set to start my internship experience. The city manager and my reporting manager who was working from Chennai were guiding me throughout. There were some sales representatives working under me and I was asked to tag along with them every day for the first 4-5 days on all their pitches to understand the customers as well as the market. And man, what learning that was. Within 3 days, I understood how the market works, what problems the customers were facing, and the various bottlenecks that were present. But before I could work on any of those, I was asked to home quarantine by the govt, who traced my entry. So, the company relocated me to Chennai – where they started a new project on B2C away from their organic B2B operations and I was tasked with streamlining the operations there.

During the first week there, I was working from the office in Chennai. But because of an outbreak in the office, they asked everyone to work from home. On visiting the distribution centres, I got an idea about how operations work there and the various bottlenecks that were present there. And all the data regarding the operations was available. And there, my Tableau skills came in handy. I had enrolled to a Tableau course on Coursera just a month before starting my internship and because of that, using the data at my disposal, I was able to derive insights regarding the operations which helped the company increase sales. And I would credit Tableau to be one of the main reasons I was able to convert my internship into a full-time job, (or in MBA parlance, a PPO) since I could not think of any other things that I could have done working from home that could have had that much impact on the work.

During my final review with the country heads of sales and operations, I was able to use these insights and outcomes to full effect and I guess its safe to say they were quite impressed. Whatever company you are interning in, during your final review, numbers are all they look for. They do not care about how much effort you put in, or how much outcome you “see” qualitatively. They need numbers. To show that you have improved something in their business and was not a liability to them. Even an incremental improvement would be impressive.

Another thing was, apart from me and one another intern, everyone else was continuing as the city manager in their original posting in different cities. So, me and this intern were the only two interns who were working from home while 40 odd others were on the field crunching out numbers. So, the biggest takeaway for you guys from this should be, you can never predict at which moment which skillset of yours will be put to use. Something you must have learnt 3-4 years back could be of vital importance to you at some point of your job/internship. Had I not taken the Tableau course, it would have been exceedingly difficult to make a mark and distinguish myself.

Anyway, on a final note, these are tough times. I hope you all are safe and sound.  Those who have already started their internships, I am sure you all are giving your 101%. And for those who have not started their internships yet or have not started the MBA journey altogether, all the very best to you. Keep your head down and keep working hard – success will follow.


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