Summer Internship with an FMCG company – Badal Choudhary from FMS New Delhi

Badal Choudhary, a first year MBA student from FMS, New Delhi shares his thought provoking and true to the word internship experience with a leading chocolate brand. With this he enters “Winner of the day” Hall of Fame on Internshala. Congrats, Badal! Next step – “Winner of the week!

Daily winner for: – 29th July 2011

Name of the intern: – Badal Choudhary

Institute – Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), New Delhi

Organization interned with – a leading MNC chocolate brand

“Choudhary in the chocolate factory, A childhood dream come true!

Selling chocolate no more a mystery, Internship @ ******* drives away all blues!”

First year B-school students often fall prey to looking at the world of sales with rose tinted glasses when they apply for internships from their air conditioned classrooms. Harsh reality awaits them when they face the scorching summer heat when they do their sales rounds in territories which they never knew existed…

Fortunately for me, from my interactions with seniors I always had an idea of how difficult sales would be and faced lesser inertia adapting to the alien environment. I was working on a particular brand of an MNC in Kolkata region. Inside the walls of a B-school classroom we would classify it as a “sales” and “marketing” project. Once on the ground it boils down to never ending dialogues with retailers and distributors and bearing the idiosyncrasies of the consumer who in marketing parlance has to be treated like one’s wife.

My internship started off with a very enjoyable induction process. Initially it was a little depressing to see some thirty odd interns there, but soon my mind leapt back to its happy state thinking of the thousands of people who would kill to be in my position. Mathematics was always a funny subject indeed! And to my surprise, very soon the interns shed their inhibitions to get over the so called rivalries of the top B schools. Here at the company, it wouldn’t matter anymore how one entrance test had distributed us across different B schools; henceforth it would be every man for himself with no campus tag to give him an edge in his project.

 The best part about working for an MNC is the hospitality extended to you by the company. I was welcomed with warmth and made to feel very comfortable with the branch team members. Infact, on my first work day post induction at the Kolkata office, I saw all members dressed in traditional Bengali wear. It was an HR initiative to celebrate one of the Bengali festivals and de-stress while revelling in the rich Bengali culture. It was then that the realization hit me that how at campuses most students dismiss HR initiatives as “GAS” but in real life corporate culture even such little activities contribute a great deal towards bonding people and acting in the larger interest of the organization.

The toughest part of the summer internship is stage 1 when one is assigned a project. Straight out of B-school with no experience of such work at all, one is caught reading and re reading his topic a million times trying to make some sense out of it. Furthermore, you are asked to define your deliverable, timelines, travel plans, etc. etc. It is then when even while sitting in the AC at 18 degrees centigrade you suddenly feel a drop of sweat role down behind your ears. It is then that your Guide/Mentor comes to your rescue and shows you some light. I was privileged to have two bosses very well seasoned in the industry who gave me some hope for the mammoth task facing to be done in the next two months. But as it was said in the movie Matrix, “I can only show you the door, you have to walk through it”, I set off on my path of discovery.

When on a sales visit, leave behind your B school “airs” and make sure you know the local language and jargon. Nothing works better than a “dada, kamon acho” coupled with a “Haan, ami bangla jaani”. To trade with them, you have to be one with them. The golden rule for maximum learning during sales visits is to not restrict yourself to your project. Once my work at an outlet would be over I would look at how other brands/ companies were playing in the market and sometimes an off track piece of information did come in handy for my project which was seemingly unrelated.

The most interesting part was however the interaction with the consumers. Over a few weeks I had interacted with housewives, office going men, college students, elders..!! Almost, everyone Bengali! Having been in Kolkata during my school days i could converse in Bengali. After conversations with consumers in Bengali that used to last for hours and hours, at the end of it all I had a hard time convincing myself that yes, I still remember Hindi and English!

The good part about my management of the project was i was always particular about the timelines. This kept my bosses happy with good work being delivered on time. Friends across companies had their stories of how life at summer internship was treating them. Some were doing well and some weren’t but the common thread amongst both was the realization that most of the Sales & Marketing theories taught in classrooms can only be understood when one does ground work.

Also, during the summer internship i realized that in spite of a lot of resources at your disposal, there’s only a distance you can go in the limited two month period. What companies are looking for are fresh ideas from a virgin mind that’s not yet been stereotyped by the corporate’s existing ideas. My internship did end on a bright note with my virginity bearing good fruit for the company. Also, I did finally decide on a career in Sales & Marketing.

Was this helpful? If yes, please like the post on facebook (below) and help Badal  become winner of the week and win the prize (Rs. 1,000/-) that he truly deserves!

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