THE PLACEMENT PREPARATION
After stepping into a b-school and getting over that honeymoon phase (fresher parties and section wars), the thing you hear the most from the seniors and your fellow batchmates is “Summers are Coming” and “Deadlines are Sacrosanct”. The first 3 months are supposed to be hectic.With regular classes, assignments with 11.59.59 deadline, GDPI sessions from seniors, and n-1 rounds of CV mentorships, we have a plethora of companies landing on our campus to brief us about their openings and work culture. During this phase, a usual routine was class, assignments, company ppts, CV preparation, GDPI preparation, committee work, applying to various companies, trying our hands-on case competitions, eating, networking, and then, whatever little time is left, spend that on sleeping. There were a few instances where after 3-4 hrs of overnight sleep, the teacher caught me sleeping in his lecture. Nonetheless, the preparation went on in a similar fashion until the day it happened. Summers have finally come. After getting shortlists from various Consulting and General Management company and cracking a 2.5 hr Chairman GD and over an hr of personal interview, I was offered a General Management role in Tata Administrative Services. I was excited that finally, I would be spending 2 months in a new city, but COVID 19 had other plans.
THE VIRTUAL INTERNSHIP
In March 2020, we were sent back home from college and our summer internships were supposed to start in April. However, we were intimidated that we would be working from home. Normally Tata provides flight and excellent accommodation during the entire internship period. And also, various networking sessions happen with the top executives of Tata before we finally start our internship. But online virtual internship has its own beauty. The routine is often flexible. Some days might end at 4 o clock in the morning while some days could be Netflix and snacks on your warm bed. In a General Management role for Tata Administrative Services, the interns get to work in one of the companies of Tata. They also get a niche role with a real-time project to work on. I had an opportunity of working for Tata Digital as a Product Management intern in the Financial Services sector.
Tata Digital was the youngest company of the Tata group. Established in August 2019, it was only a 7-month-old start-up when I started working there. Being a technology-oriented company and having highly energized individuals working day in day out to make the start-up function to its fullest, I had the experience of working in a start-up culture. My job involved in-depth learning of various credit products like credit cards, EMIs, etc. Being someone who has never used a credit product and has strong reservations against using one, it was a big hurdle for me to work on a product that involves a deep understanding of how credit products work. After going through various credit products, which cater to various customer segments, I was finally ready to design a credit product myself. The second hurdle came when I went on to do some primary research. Various institutes were functioning on low staff or were closed due to COVID 19 protocols, and often, primary data collection hit a stumbling block. A lot of dependencies were shown on secondary data for this project. Still, we could do a proper competitor analysis to determine the target segment and the target market for the product. COVID 19 had restricted us to virtual meetings, which had its own hurdles, but it became easier with time. The third hurdle was quite unexpected as West Bengal was suddenly facing a massive cyclone called Amphan. As a result, I had to work without constant electricity and proper internet for a week. A shoutout to TAS HRs who conducted various online events starting from recreational events to visionary talks from industry leaders. We all had a fun ride that started with people sharing pictures of their babies and ended with dancing and singing for contests. The team I worked with was hell-bent on helping me out whenever I needed it, irrespective of how busy they were at that moment. A project reviewer was assigned to me who helped me out 24×7 and made my 2 months with the organization a bit simpler. I did not even realize how those two months just flew past, and it was time for me to present my recommendations to the company.
Finally, in June, I presented my recommendation to the seniors. The product proposition involved the identified customer segment, the target market, the customer pain points, how we are mitigating them, the features of our product offering, customer acquisition strategy, marketing strategy, Profit and loss statement, and some recommendations on digital aspects of the product. In these 2 months, I have seen incredible development in myself. From being someone who made horrible power-point presentations, I finally made a presentation that was accepted by the leaders. My time management skills improved, and I realized that everything could be done if you have time and resources, be it learning the entire range of credit products from scratch, making decent enough PPTs, or meeting deadlines under all conditions.