About the Author: Nikeeta Variava from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai shares useful advice on how to make the most of your summer internship at an MNC.
I did my summer internship with Abbott India Limited (AIL) in the Marketing domain. The internship officially kicked off with me getting a mail from the HR regarding the project details and the location. My project was about conducting a thorough market research in order to gain insights in one of the therapy areas that AIL is well known for. My insights would then be used to refine marketing strategy of a popular therapy brand.
My location was the corporate office in Mumbai for two complete months. Along with the project details and location, I also received the details about my mentor and project guide. AIL has one of the most structured MBA internships consisting of 2 months’ exhilarating journey where interns get to work on live projects. AIL expects its interns to do a bit of background research on their project area and this explains the HR mailing the interns in advance about the basic details pertaining to their projects: location, project title, mentor, and guide. This is one of the most important things that I appreciate in an AIL internship. I had ample time to gain basic knowledge about my project.
Looking back on 2015, when AIL intern selection results were out, I remember one of my JBIMS colleagues had exclaimed that I have been very fortunate to bag an internship in ‘Pharma Marketing’ as devising a sales/ marketing strategy in pharmaceutical domain can be quite a herculean task. Well, I NOW realize what my colleague REALLY meant then.
First day at AIL was an orientation as well as ‘meet and greet’ session for all Abbott interns where we interacted with some of Abbott’s bigwigs and HODs. In this session, we learnt how Abbott has achieved such tremendous growth ever since it came to India and also got to know about some of the future plans. It was a very valuable experience learning to interact with the HODs and corporate bigwigs.
On the second day, I had an official meeting scheduled with my project guide who briefed me about the project. I was quite enthusiastic. I shared the details of some basic research that I had done on the therapy area and also showed him step-by-step methodology that I had constructed to achieve the objectives.
The next exciting area of most marketing internships is the market visit/field work. It involves lot of travelling, hard work and tests one’s persuasion and interpersonal skills. I came to realize that the main objective of such market visits is to ensure that the intern is able to appreciate all the aspects of the sales system. I had my market visit scheduled in the month of May. The market visit started with a visit to the retailers (chemist shops) and then to different clinics and hospitals. I got to know how the medical representatives (MR) work and what are the other upcoming trends that are being used in AIL which gives the company an advantage over its pharma competitors. Every day I was assigned a new area (market) to cover and hence, a new MR.
My project was titled ‘Understanding the dynamics of a therapy area in India to refine the Marketing strategy for one of Abbott’s old brands’. Since this project was related to ‘Marketing Research’, I had prepared a step-by-step methodology, project charter, data collection manual, and few storyboards which would help me capture the right data associated with the therapy area and its brand. Along with this, I also had to come up with actionable and practical insights that my project guide could approve. One of the main challenges that I faced was during market visits. Pharmaceutical Marketing is a bit different from the commercial marketing of FMCG products. For an engineering graduate like me, getting accustomed with the medicine/drug/therapy related to my project was not a cakewalk. However, I strived to gain basic knowledge about medical jargon and the terms related to my project. For example, I was provided with some in-house Abbott project manuals in order to get well-versed with the medical and therapy related terms. Reading these manuals became a part of my routine for the first two weeks. The logic was simple: without knowing the meaning of medical terms related to my therapy, I will not be able to understand the finer nuances of the therapy area and will not be able to extract correct information from the project stakeholders who were doctors.
Research is very important
It has been rightly said – ‘Well begun is half done’. Make sure that you embark on summer internship by doing basic research on the company and your project. Note that most of the companies mail about the internship project’s detail well in advance, thus, giving ample time for a student to research and gain basic knowledge on all the important aspects related to the project. Following this will not only help you build your confidence but will also make you feel less ‘out of place’ on the first day of internship. In case you are not aware of your internship project, strive to take an initiative by contacting your college seniors who had earlier interned with the company. Ask the seniors about their internship projects and work culture; in this way you will get a fair idea on what your internship project is going to be like. Read recent articles and trends related to your project topic.
Practical application of theoretical concepts taught in class
Always try to link your project with the theoretical aspect that you have studied in your college. Construct a step-by-step methodology/flowchart on how you will be proceeding through the project. The key thing to remember is not to worry whether you are right or wrong. Apply different perspectives to your internship project and your guide will appreciate your drive of enthusiasm and zest when you discuss your research work and project methodology.
Interaction with the project guide
Follow all hygiene factors when it comes to interacting with guide/mentor. Persistence is the key when it comes to meeting your project guide/mentor. Remember that they are loaded with many responsibilities themselves and hence, cannot be available to you as per your convenience. You need to be persistent and schedule your meetings with your guide in accordance to your guide’s schedule. For example, sending a meeting request to the mentor via email or messaging him/her well in advance about the meeting schedule always helps.
Interaction with the clients/stakeholders
Remember that ‘one size fits all’ attitude does not work especially when your internship involves lot of field work – meeting stakeholders or clients. This aspect is very subjective and this is where your experiences, life skills, and presence of mind will be helpful.
Editor’s Note – Think of yourself as the next big thing of the corporate world? Check out these awesome MBA internships on Internshala.