About the Author: Ayush Jain, from IIM Lucknow, shares how he never lost hope and bagged a prestigious summer internship at Colgate Palmolive which taught him the real marketing lessons.
From struggle comes success. The struggle you are in today is helping you build the strength you need tomorrow. After failing to get a good MBA college owing to my weak academic record despite 99.43 percentile in 2013, I somehow mustered the courage to appear for CAT again. The fire inside me had not doused and I got 99.86 percentile in 2014, the highest in my city. This helped me get into IIM Lucknow.
But challenges pre-MBA are merely a subset of what you will face during the MBA. The quest to find your dream internship starts right after you get here with you competing with some of the brightest minds of the country. My CV had nothing substantial on it and I had nothing but hope and self-confidence. My past academic record had ditched me earlier and several companies in my college too rejected my CV. But hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.
My tryst with Colgate Palmolive started with their online aptitude test which had questions ranging from numerical, verbal, to logical concepts. After clearing the online round, I sat for their Group Discussion (GD) process. The GD required us to skillfully use concepts of marketing that we had learned in our MBA hitherto. I pitched in with many insightful ideas, which I safely assumed would pave my way to the interview round. The interview round started with 2 panelists. My nerves were jangling as this was the moment I had been waiting for so long. They asked me a wide variety of questions and tested me on several fronts as they had to make sure that the candidate chosen fits aptly with the job role they had. I was questioned about my strengths and weaknesses, my biggest achievement, my role model, some situational questions which I answered quite convincingly. I was finally offered internship with the company and my answer to the biggest achievement in my life changed at that very moment. I had fought all my shortcomings and achieved something really significant.
My internship started in the month of April; 22 of us from top notch MBA colleges of India were called to Mumbai for the induction. We were briefed about the company and our projects. I had to travel to Delhi the very next day to meet my mentor. My internship was in Lucknow and my project required me to travel to places like Varanasi, Allahabad, Gorakhpur, Kanpur etc. I had to build an effective distribution of one of the brands of Colgate in UP. In my 2 months of internship, I interacted with more than 20 salesmen, met 18 distributors & 1000+ shopkeepers, and traveled more than 5000 Kilometers. I also had to analyze a lot of real time as well as past data. Never in my wildest of my dreams had I thought that I would be sitting in the corner of a road, talking to a salesman about his journey and other random things over a cup of tea. Sweltering summers of UP did not bother me.
The internship taught me the nuances of marketing. Marketing is hard to understand if you don’t interact with people at the ground level. The numerous stakeholders involved at various stages in the distribution channels make us learn the importance of taking each and every decision very carefully. All the bookish knowledge acquired would be of no use unless it is rightly coupled with practical learning, and my company had given me a perfect platform for that. There were instances when my live experiences would totally contradict with what was taught to us in the class but this is the beauty of marketing. My internship culminated with me presenting my work to the top managers of the company. Several ideas of mine were lauded by my mentor.
Things have been different since then & my perspective of looking at things has changed. When I see a product now, I start appreciating the latent hard work of thousands of people behind it who ensure that it reaches there. Success nonetheless is 10% luck, 20% skill, 15% concentrated power of will, 5% pleasure and 50% pain. Never underestimate your power, there is immense talent inside each and every one of us. All we need is a right place and the right time to demonstrate it. Never give up on your dreams, they were given to you for a reason. I would end it all with a few lines from the movie The Shawshank Redemption – There is something inside they can’t get to, they can’t touch. It is yours. Hope.
Editor’s Note – Think of yourself as the next Rocket Singh? If yes, then check out these cool marketing internships.