Sports Marketing Internship with ABP Group – Devdeep Dutta from Kolkata

sports-marketing-internship-with-abp-group-devdeep-dutta-kolkataAbout the Author: While brevity may not be his forte, Devdeep (the boy in the middle) from Heritage Institute of Technology, Kolkata gives an entertaining account of his sports marketing internship.

On a hot lazy summer afternoon, sometime in the second week of May, I was busy binge watching House of Cards, when a dear college friend of mine called me to remind me for the umpteenth time to check out a certain link for internship which she had messaged me on WhatsApp. But no one just forgoes Frank Underwood unless it’s a matter of life & death, especially not when you are binge watching and are in the season finale! But I knew at the same time that my well-wishing friend wouldn’t cease to remind me unless I did her bidding. Reluctantly and eager to get back to the show, I checked out what my friend had shared. It was the entry form for The Telegraph You Internship Programme 2016, and my eyes sparked! On further research, it revealed itself to be an annual internship contest. The Telegraph under the banner of its Campus Supplement ‘You’ undertakes this internship programme to enable students in East India to pursue a month long internship in different corporate houses. I filled up the requisite form and remember spending considerable time to answer the question – ‘How does print & digital media survive & go hand in hand in this digital age? What should be done to ensure a healthy & co-operative relationship between the two?’.

My semester exams followed soon after, and since no further communication was established, I forgot the episode for good. 4th June, 2016 – I received a call informing me that i had been selected for the GD (Group Discussion) & PI (Personal Interview) round to be held the next day for the internship programme. The call lasted just a couple of minutes, informing me of the venue & the documents to carry. Now, I was undergoing a plethora of emotions. Why? Because 2 days after I had to appear for Physics and I had prepared nothing! Seeking my parents’ advice on this yielded nothing either, since they left the hard decision totally up to me. So much for parental guidance! Eventually, I let my emotion fueled heart rule over my logic filled brain, and I landed up in front of Hotel Conclave early next morning. We were informed about the participating companies, which were – The Telegraph, Ambuja Cement, 91.9 Friends FM, CESC Limited & J. Walter Thompson. After the initial process of registration got over, I realized though to my utter fury (over myself) that in all the excitement I had forgotten to bring any of the important documents required. “Total disregard for rules and shows complete lack of responsibility” came the assessment of the person in charge when I shared my ordeal. Since going back and doing a double back wasn’t an option in any case, I utilized the single biggest asset we have – technology. Thanks to the foresight and advice of that person I got a shot at the interview, and ultimately showed the documents via WhatsApp. We were divided into 10 groups of 10 members each for the initial Group Discussion. Following which 6 students from each group were selected for the Personal Interview round. Finally 20 were selected for the programme.

The topic for my group’s GD was – ‘Should India have more IITs & NITs?’ Experiencing a group discussion outside the comforts of my school or college zone was quite an experience. Here nobody cared for the one golden rule of GDs that we had been taught – always give others an opportunity to speak. After a few failed tries to pitch in to the discussion, I realized this had actually become a platform for the two speakers who were speaking vehemently against each other with their same points over & over again, with no intentions to let anyone else speak. Ultimately, half time past, I decided to barge in, literally. I started speaking and continued until the two shut up and took note. Thankfully they did quieten up, and the others spoke up too, resulting in a form of discussion and not a two speaker debate! First battle won, I got selected for the PI round.

Nearing 5 PM I was called in for the PI round. Two gentlemen and one lady sat across a large table (which could easily sit 10 people on each side). The setting had a quite daunting effect on me, especially since this was my first ever interview. The introductions revealed that one of them was from ABP Pvt. Ltd. (my eventual boss to be), one from 91.9 Friends FM and the lady was from J. Walter Thompson. It started off on a good note. I was mainly quizzed from my CV. Everything was going smoothly until I dug my own grave. Upon asked which sports beside the big two – Cricket & Football, I watch, I answered confidently that I followed Kabaddi on television courtesy of the Pro Kabaddi League aired on Star Sports. Little did I know, I would regret the very mentioning of those words. Now, I did watch the matches, they were pretty entertaining, and provided a quick respite for 10 or 15 minutes. But unfortunately things took an ugly turn, and I was hammered left right for not being able to answer queries related to that. The little information which I had about it, only ensued I get trapped more and more. I tried to put on a straight face throughout the interview, and tried to answer their questions as tactfully as possible with the limited information and knowledge I had. Needless to say, by the time they asked me if I had any question or anything to say to them, I already knew they probably had no intention of listening to it and only asked me out of courtesy. I remember asking them if I had a choice as to which company to intern with, to which they answered that I would surely be contacted SHOULD I get selected. The emphasis couldn’t escape me. I returned home, tired and dejected, but having met some wonderful people and witnessed an unforgettable experience.

Physics was outright bad, a lost cause (I managed to pass though). That following Friday our semester exams concluded. To celebrate the cause (examinations ending do call for one) along with my friends, I went to a restaurant. In the midst of grabbing a bite off a pizza slice, I received a call informing me of my selection for the internship and that I was to start interning with ABP Pvt. Ltd. from 20th of that month. A thousand thoughts went through my mind, the first of which was that someone must be playing a prank on me. My friends knew about the programme and the contest, and I always have every reason to suspect them for pranks. Fortunately my suspicions were put to rest when I received a formal mail congratulating me and informing me about the upcoming internship. How & Why I got the internship after what I think was a horrid interview is still a mystery to date. My father though explained that the test was of my character rather than knowledge and how I can cope with such a situation.

Well! 20th June, 2016 marked the first day of my internship. I felt really tiny on that first day. Before me stood a huge white building, which housed ABP Pvt. Ltd., one of the biggest media houses in the country and whose dailies – The Telegraph (English) and Anadabajar Patrika (Bengali) are the largest circulated English daily & Bengali daily respectively in Eastern India. I was apprehensive initially about the work I would be doing. Studying Engineering, I didn’t know how I would be of service to a media house. But then I came to know all about the field where I was to intern. The division is called ABP One – the management & business division of ABP Pvt. Ltd. There were 2 more guys selected for this internship, one was studying Electrical Engineering from IIEST, Shibpur, Howrah; and the other, a Computer Science Engineering student of NIT Durgapur. We were to work on, yes nothing other than, “Bengal Warriors Association with The Telegraph in Pro Kabaddi League Season 4”. I know, providence right? Our work would be to popularise and propagate the game and the team in the city, among the people. Initially we were to do desk jobs only. It was a proud moment when we got our own cubicle, with dedicated internet lines & a desk phone too. Surely one of the high points (since new interns normally don’t get any fixed space to sit). It gave that corporate feel for the first time. While in office it was a 10-5 job. Initial work involved making presentations on our ideas & solutions. Working with Excel Sheets & MS Powerpoint was a big learning curve for me.

Then came the real work, the hard part. Shying away from the air conditioned office, we had to cover 64 schools in and around the city. Our work was to popularise ‘Kabaddi’, ‘Pro Kabaddi League’ & ‘Bengal Warriors’ among the school children. Some notable schools visited included South Point, MCKV, GD Birla etc. Our visits would include an Emcee who would be hosting the interactive session with the student. We were in-charge of the whole session and were to supervise the proceedings. Occasionally, Bengal Warriors players like ‘Jang Kun Lee’, ‘Mahendra Rajput’ or their ambassador ‘Akshat Singh’ would also accompany us on our school visits. We learned a lot from these sessions. How to manage things, how to take decisions up front when faced with dilemma, how to cope with different situations etc. One of the most important thing which I will take from this internship as a life lesson forever is keeping oneself to deadlines. These school visits would often end late in evenings. After that, if it was before 5 pm in the evening, we had to return to office to give an update to our bosses. Yet, after returning home, we had to finish making dockets of the respective schools which we visited that day, and send it by that night. It was a frustrating job alright, and one which I didn’t quite like doing after returning home after a hard day’s toil. But following the internship, I can realize that those work have had a positive effect on me since. Without realizing it consciously, I have become much more organised, and tend not to procrastinate.

All the school visits done, we moved on to undertake a more important work. Bengal Warriors in association with The Telegraph organised and hosted the ‘Inter School Kabaddi Competition for Boys and Girls’. It was a gala affair and was held at ‘Shaheed Khudiram Complex’ for three days. We 3 interns were the in-charge of it all. It was some experience for sure, and one which has hence led me to respect those who pull such big events successfully. Anything wrong can happen at any time, and total chaos may ensue. There are so many variables at work. So many things happening simultaneously. So many people present. The day before the competition started, we sat down with our department head so that he could go through the itinerary. Everything got over and we knew what was expected of us. Each of us were confident that we could pull this through, and he suggested just one thing, he said, “Once there, it will be war!” Sometimes when I reflect back on those 3 days’ activities and what all we went through, how we managed the whole tournament, how we pacified angry teachers, injured students, officials, etc., those words ring back in my ears – WAR it was.

The completion of the tournament actually marked the end of our internship as well. We finally made one detailed docket containing every activity that we had undertaken throughout the internship and mailed it for the last time. On 21st July, we were to submit our final presentations and get our completion letter. I felt quite nervous waiting for my turn while one of the other intern was giving his presentation. I noticed that in spite of us working on the same thing throughout, how different our presentations were. Each had viewed this internship from different ways and had learnt different things. Also, when my turn finally came, I probably gave one of the best presentations of my life. Not for once did I have to refer to any notes or to the presentation for that matter. This was mainly because how close we had become to the topic which we had spent a month on. At 6 PM, we left the premises for the last time. It was quite nostalgic to hand over the ID cards and the entry passes at the reception. The corporate feel would soon ebb from our life. We would get back to T-shirts & denims, and the formal shirt & trouser and black polished bots would be packed for good. Pocketing my first salary of 3000 rupees, and keeping the precious acknowledgement letter inside, I headed back home.

Editor’s Note – Looking for an experience as rich in learning as Devdeep’s was? Check out these exciting internships.

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