Daily Winner for: – 31st August 2011
Name of the intern: – Arun Leo
Institute: – Xavier Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship
Organization interned with: – IDBI Federal Life Insurance Co.Ltd
Even before I joined my MBA course, this was an event that I looked forward to with a lot of enthusiasm. ‘My first corporate experience’ – ‘The MBA Summer Internship’. The gyaan that I often received from my peers and seniors pictured the internship as a ‘make or break’ moment, since I was a fresher. To be honest, I admit I was lured into the Summer Internship Program of IDBI Federal Life Insurance Co. Ltd for the Rs 20,000 monthly stipend they were offering. They recruited on-campus and the internship description read ‘New Product Development’ and ‘Market Research’ in Bangalore office. It was naïve of me to take the plunge without doing proper research. They had mentioned there would be an interview round to select the final candidates but broke the promise and selected directly on the basis of CVs. I was only beginning to figure out that I was walking into a trap.
Soon I had info flowing in that this might turn out to be a sales internship. “Oh My God! Selling Insurance? No chance in hell!” I thought to myself. But with no other back up option, I had to go ahead with the internship.
Day one at the office confirmed my fears. Yes, I was to sell insurance. After not getting placed in my engineering due to the recession and the online CAT fiasco, this was the biggest heart ache I could get. Most people escape when they hear “Insurance”. “How am I to sell? And that too 1.5 lakh worth first year premium in 2 months?” I comforted myself at the thought of earning 20K per month. “No dear!” came the answer from my project guide. I quickly learned that the stipend was not fixed and was performance based. It was possible to earn 20,000 only if I sold the top end policies which had a policy term of 25 years, which was near impossible. As for the project work I got, it was a market research project on ‘Comparative Study of Insurance Products’, just to satisfy my academic requirements. I knew my internship was almost doomed. Things were going from bad to worse, when I soon fell ill with chicken pox. I got permission to go back home.
With all these negatives, you might wonder how this turned out to be a Yo! Internship for me? In my quest to become a great manager, optimism is one quality which has taken me places. Winston Churchill once said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”. I thought to myself “I intend to get into Marketing career. What better an opportunity than to start off in Sales? Isn’t Sales the stepping stone of Marketing?”
Initially the going was tough. I made cold calls, only to get abused by the customers. I went door to door, only to see doors shutting on my face. Trust me, it hurts one’s self esteem. But in business, customer is the king! Keep trying until you succeed. My persistence finally paid off when I was able to sell my first policy to a lady from a nearby neighborhood. After that there was no looking back. Once I got into the flow, I was able to sell with relative ease. In the matter of few weeks I comfortably crossed my target. But once I achieved my target, I deliberately called it a day, as I felt that the commission I was earning was unsatisfactory. At the end of internship I was the Sales topper from my college among a peer group of 15. I was given ‘The Best Project’ and ‘The Best Performance’ awards apart from receiving sales target certificates. I declined an offer for a Pre-Placement Interview (PPI), since I don’t intend to join the insurance industry after my course. But the internship has added tremendous value to my resume. After all, insurance is one of the most difficult products in the world to sell. If you can sell insurance, you can sell anything!
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