About the Author: Aman Mehta is currently working as an investment professional in Tokyo for Rakuten’s Fintech Fund. A computer science graduate from Thapar University, he built a career in management with the help of internships in organizations like Mckinsey & Company, Uber, and IIM Ahmedabad’s CIIE.
I started my management career with my first internship stint at Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) in IIM Ahmedabad in the summer of 2014 after my second year at college. IIM Ahmedabad’s CIIE fosters innovation-driven entrepreneurship in India through incubation, investment, and training. The application process was fairly simple with a resume screening in the first round which was followed by a phone interview which had a few general market awareness questions, some questions in reference to my resume, and some guess-estimate type questions. The question of “Why do you want to do a management internship in spite of being from a computer science/engineering background?” is something which used to pop up quite often during the initial interviews. This is often something which puts the candidate in a spot but if you are able to give genuine reasons on why you chose that specific field over others and how it gives you an edge over other candidates, it can be used as an advantage. For instance, in my case, a computer science background gave me a high-level understanding of how products are made and work even if I didn’t code.
Eighteen of us, from backgrounds ranging from engineering, economics, commerce, and one even from humanities, were chosen from all over the country. The two months at IIM Ahmedabad involved us researching and analysing startups across various sectors in the Indian entrepreneurial ecosystem. For most of us, it was our first exposure to the startup world and CIIE was the perfect platform to get a ring-side view of what was and still is a very exciting ecosystem.
My next internship was with Uber in Delhi in the summer of 2015 after my pre-final year at college. Uber at that point of time was still in a very initial stage in terms of its operations in India. There was an opening which was posted on one of the regional startup groups on Facebook, and we were supposed to submit out resumes at a particular email address. The resume screening was followed by an online aptitude test after clearing which one had to go through two case-study based interviews which the interviewers used to check how well versed we were with Uber. Some specific questions related to daily operations optimisation were also asked and I was supposed to come up with innovative solutions for them. The experience of my first internship at CIIE helped too.
During the internship, the entire NCR operations team had very few full-time employees across three offices and an approximately equal number of interns. So even as interns, we were allotted a lot of important tasks and we were expected to take complete ownership of them. I, along with three other interns, was asked to take charge of Uber Auto which had been launched just a couple of months before we joined. We took complete ownership of the daily operations of the driver recruitment, support, training, quality management, driver retention, and inventory management of Uber Auto. There weren’t any previous benchmarks on how we were supposed to go about it since Uber Auto was functional only in Delhi at that time in the entire country and there was a lot of resistance from the auto drivers towards the product. Despite the challenges, there was a significant product growth in terms of both the active auto partners associated with us and the number of trips per week. It was an extremely satisfying experience since we saw the exponential product growth happening in front of us.
When I was applying after my third year, only a handful of interviewers used to ask the “why management despite engineering” question. The interviewers understood that I had prior relevant experience and was doing fairly well in the management field. My next internship was at Mckinsey. Our engineering course at college required us to do a mandatory industrial internship in the final semester. I decided to take a plunge and explore consulting as an industry since it excited me at a fundamental level and, fortunately, found an opening at Mckinsey & Company.
The interview process consisted of a problem-solving test, a phone interview, and three personal interviews which consisted of a few general market awareness questions, some questions on my previous internship experiences, a few case-study based questions (think market entry, new product launch etc.), and some guess-estimates. As an intern, Mckinsey gave me a fantastic platform to get an insight into how the consulting industry works, how consultants approach, and how to work in a fairly structured way and solve problems of the clients. In those six months, I got an opportunity to work on many exciting client requests which expanded my knowledge across a wide array of topics and industries.
Many students ask me how to take the first step and what to prepare. I would like to share the following tips based on my personal experience –
1. Explore: Explore as many fields as possible when you are in college. College gives you ample amount of time to work on your interests, and I can assure you that you won’t have this much time and liberty after you graduate.
2. Get an internship: I started with an internship at an incubation centre, followed by internships in operations and consulting, and now I work in venture capital. Interning with different organisations gave me an exposure into how different departments in an organisation work and gave me a clearer idea of what I didn’t like and what I enjoyed doing. It also expanded my personal network significantly which is always a good thing to have.
3. Keep yourself updated: Read a lot and be aware of the market and current affairs as much as possible. Companies love a candidate if they see that he’s well read and can speak across a breadth of topics. This often can compensate on some other part of your application which you think you might be lacking. Be well versed with the company’s outlook/strategy/products that they just can’t ignore your application.
4. Take initiatives: See a society in some other college but don’t have it in your own college? Start it. Want to work in a particular industry? Reach out to college alumni who are working in that field and ask them about it. Be a part of college societies, case-study competitions, and other similar events which will help broaden your horizon immensely. If nothing else, each one of them will help you grow your network which is an extremely invaluable thing to have.
Sparked by Aman’s story and want to be the next big thing in management? Apply to these management internships and ignite your career with internships today.