Sharada Sridhar (first row, second from right) interned with Glaxo Smithkline Consumer Healthcare Ltd and shares an interesting story from the duration of her internship. Sharada is an MBA student at SCMHRD, Pune. Read her internship story in her own words.
I stood outside IGI Airport on 31st March, 2014, with my entire luggage stacked on a baggage trolley waiting with my colleagues for a cab.
This was it. I was finally here in Gurgaon, a city most alien to me in all respects. My summer internship with Glaxo Smithkline Consumer Healthcare Ltd. (GSKCH) was about to commence and all the months of anxiety, excitement and thrill had finally come to this.
As our cab drove off to the Company guesthouse, my thoughts invariably wandered into the past. I am a graduate in Commerce. I loved to play with calculations, numbers and make complex journal entries. As fate would have it, I began my corporate journey in an NBFC on a frontline Sales Profile. I worked on lending, portfolio management, asset allocations and hundreds of clients who asked queries on how the stock markets are going to perform and where I should invest their funds into. Their trust and conviction in my judgment, gave me stronger faith that Finance was the place I wanted to be. And not just be the decision-giver, but the decision-maker.
Fast-forward three years and here I was starting off with the coveted Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in Finance and sitting in this cab at this moment, thinking about my first ever corporate stint with the summer internship.
I was jolted out of my reverie as our cab came to a halt in front of a large bungalow that was the guesthouse. A brief list of instructions greeted us as we entered the lobby – which included the trainee induction schedule for the next day and the plan for the rest of the week. I turned around and saw a young girl furiously discussing Supply Chain questions with a senior leader. My eyes widened at the prospect of being equally or more aggressive and making an impact on the organization.
The project entrusted to me was on Working Capital Optimization. With the incredible number of cases and ratio analysis that were done in academics, I was excited to understand and apply these concepts to my project meaningfully. As I sat poring over books and documents on the topic, I found interns arriving from various colleges. I was nervous at the prospect of meeting them. Internships, as my college seniors said, were largely competitive.
As we all assembled for dinner, we all began to break ice and get to know each other. There interns from IIMs, FMS, NITIE and even our sister college SIBM. It was a varied group of specializations. We were six interns from SCMHRD – three marketing, two HR and just one Finance – me!
I was curious to know who the other Finance interns were and was eager to strike up a conversation. However, that evening was spent in the company of all the other specializations and discussions on the internship experience. As the day of the induction arrived, the same group of people was clad in crisp business suits and backpacks, ready to get into the thick of things. That same feeling of anxiety and nervousness gripped me as I entered the meeting room.
Someone walked up from the far end of the room and welcomed me. He introduced himself as Kirtyanand Singh. After months of back and forth communiqués it was a warm feeling to meet the HR manager in person and I shook his hands warmly. We all took our places waiting for Company presentations to begin. However, the induction began with reshuffling the group, who had invariably sat amongst their own colleagues. This brightened up the atmosphere and also made us feel at home instantly.
Another surprise awaited me…I was the only intern in Finance this year with GSKCH! As my first day at work arrived, my anxiety increased…the only intern in Finance this year? This could only mean I would be watched with serious eyes to truly prove my mettle and do extraordinary work with the organization. However, surprises were not over yet. My assigned mentor, Mr. Mehra, had recently shifted roles and a new mentor, Mr. Mittal was assigned. I was vexed as all the pre-project preparatory work was in line with the instructions of Mr. Mehra. However, Mr. Mittal gave my project plan a patient hearing. I was amazed at the fact that Mr. Mittal solicited my thoughts and opinions and we were able to prioritize the tasks and design a project plan.
April is the season of final accounts, audits, preparing the annual reports and in short, enough of a caustic environment on the finance floor. As expected, senior leaders were into meetings, discussions and a lot of work through the month. A resource, who truly assisted amidst all the chaos was Mr. Jatin Mazalcar. Jatin sir, as I used to call him, had a considerably large team who were in charge of the financial accounting. Needless to say, the load of work they had was insurmountable.
He helped me break my tasks into smaller pieces, analyze annual reports more keenly, sat down for discussions atleast once in a day to discuss the tasks completed and chart out the path ahead. Very soon, there was a rhythm in the workflow. I found myself walking across cubicles on floor, talking to the employees on data. I had meetings lined up with other functions such as Supply Chain, Procurement and the factory team and used the inputs to delve deeper and deeper into the project.
In all of this, I realized I was given a patient hearing, honest opinion, data to work with and broad expectations. I realized that everybody worked on a parallel as concerns responsibilities across functions and never, for once, was I treated as just another ‘intern’. I felt absolutely a part of the organization as a full- time employee.
Difficult times did come, when it was Mr. Mittal’s turn to swap roles and the project mentorship shifted back to Mr. Mehra. With four weeks gone, I was genuinely worried about the shape the project would take under a new leadership. But yet again, I was greeted with patience and a guided direction to the project.
Work progress picked up, deadlines for the final presentation came closer and found myself feverishly working through late in the evening. The great part is, I was never allowed to!
Senior leaders, my mentors and even the reception security, were extremely stern on having me leave the office in time. In today’s world, where work comes before everything else, this attitude took me be a pleasant surprise. I was extremely pleased that professionalism came with respect for one’s personal space as well.
I had worked hard through the presentation, took honest feedback from my mentors and put in my recommendations and inputs for the organization. Mr. Mehra had to leave town which meant he wouldn’t be a part of the final product. He calmly handed over the charge to Mr. Mittal who would look after the proceedings. Despite being increasingly busy in between his role changes, Mr. Mittal ensured he gave time, analyzed the outputs with me and had me prepped for the final day.
The D-Day arrived! I was crisply dressed, early to office by about 2 hours and was running through my presentation slides. Head of Finance, Mr. Subramaniam or Subbu as we call called him, was to evaluate the presentation along with Mr. Mittal. Colleagues who sat next to me, especially Mr. Gupta, who was one of the most senior members of the team, came up to my nervous self and said – “You will do great! We have all seen you work hard. God bless!” He even helped print handouts for my presentation despite the ton of work he had to do. As I walked into the conference room, pretty much everything became a blur. Primarily because I had absolutely nothing in my mind, except that presentation. Questions came, answers followed, improvements were suggested. And at the end of the presentation, I saw a pleased smile on their faces. THIS WAS IT!
The eight-weeks of hard work had finally culminated into an implementable solution for my team. It was as if somebody tuned up the volume. I became aware of my surroundings as I walked out. Colleagues whom I interacted with smiled at me and asked me how it went. In fact, it struck me then that it was a Friday morning and I was the only one incredibly out of place in a smart-casual surrounding. I smiled.
The day came to an end and the time had come to say goodbye. As I got forms and papers signed, and handed over the access cards back to reception, it actually hit me how much I had become a part of this place.
Two months is hardly any time they say. But I had been made to feel more at home than ever. I thought back to my professional days, when summer interns used to approach me to help out in their project. I barely had time for them, though I tried to do as much as I could despite my busy schedules. I realized how grateful I was that each one gave me the desired attention and how seriously they considered this project. I was amused to think, that almost everyone on the floor and also in some departments would now know me, primarily because I was the one intern who badgered them for information the most!
As I shook hands with everyone before I left, I realized how much I would miss being in this place. This is one place, I would truly want to come back and work with. I could not think of a more democratic, supportive, professional and friendly environment, for fresh professionals like me to grow and prosper.
As I picked up my bag and took one last look at the building, I knew right then… This was the best internship experience I’d ever have!
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