About the Author: Udit Gupta from Institute of Management Development & Research recounts his experience of how he got to apply the text book knowledge to practical situations during his summer internship.
For a student at a B-school, summer internship is one of the most awaited period as it provides an opportunity to nurture oneself professionally and facilitates an individual to get a practical understanding of his area of interest. Being from a Mechanical engineering background, and pursuing my Master’s specialisation in Operations Management, this Internship was my chance to use my technical and management knowledge in various practical situations and to learn different aspects of industry through hands on experience.
Just a day after I finished my exams in May, I was supposed to go for an interview for my summer internship. I was both nervous and excited at the same time as this was my first interview at post graduate level. I also remembered about my earlier interviews during engineering time & promised myself not to commit the same mistakes again. Soon, I was called inside and I entered the room with a pleasant smile on my face. The interview panel consisted of 3 members and they started with a few basic question to make me comfortable and to judge my communication skills. Seeing my resume, they told me that my profile was very technical and asked why I wanted an internship in Procurement & Supply Chain, I answered that question appropriately by giving them examples of how my techno-management knowledge & skills could be utilized in this field. This was followed by a few more technical and HR questions. The result was declared on the same day and I was selected. I was quite happy and excited thinking about the next three months of my life.
The first day of the internship was induction and my mentor asked me to think about various new projects that I could do in the field of Procurement & Supply Chain. He also advised me to develop a thorough understanding of the various purchase processes during the first week of my internship. I religiously spent time with one of the managers I was assigned to work with & tried to understand the nuances of the processes. This effort helped me a great deal in the further course of time.
My department Head assigned me two new projects on M.R.O. Procurement and Supplier Kitting in addition to a project of my own for which I chose to work in the area of Operations Excellence. I was required to make a project plan and report to him every Friday to discuss the progress of each of the 3 projects.
Each day consisted of some routine work, project related work, and various tasks of managers which were given to us so that they can save their time and share their learning experiences with us. After 3 weeks, the manager under whom I was working went on a week long leave delegating all his responsibilities to me. It was a very challenging situation but the trust he showed in me increased my confidence, and as a result I worked extra hard, made a few mistakes, learned from them, and was appreciated by the staff.
Talking about the projects, firstly the main aim of the MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Operations) Purchasing project was to understand the MRO (Material Repair Order) activities, select several parts on the basis of value, do a comparative analysis of different suppliers with an industrial buying platform (an online platform which sell industrial parts), and show the possible savings that could be achieved. The key skill I learned in this project was negotiation skills which required complete knowledge of parts, processes & sourcing channels.
The second project on ‘Operation Excellence’ involved reviewing the organization’s existing purchase practices and study their impact on buying business as well as on workers with an objective to eliminate wastage and non-value add activities.
During this three months period, other than the projects, I also handled various tasks related to BAAN like issuing purchase orders, creating new suppliers, updating the safety stock of all parts as per demand etc. I also learned about the human element in operations and the soft skills needed on the shop floor. I developed a good rapport with the shop floor staff and they gave invaluable inputs for my project. I had regular interactions with my mentor and he made sure that I adhered to the deadlines and that the projects didn’t go off track.
The most enjoyable aspect of the internship was to apply something which I had read in a text book to a real life situation. The joy of finding a real life bottleneck from data and verifying it practically by seeing long queue of inventory in front of the identified bottleneck can not be described in words. Apart from the work, I also enjoyed the food in the canteen and the beautiful green hills surrounding the company.
The experiences shared by the senior people in the company were an eye opener and gave new perspectives in which I could think or analyze a business situation. I also learnt a great deal about the Hydraulics industry and how does my work as a summer intern impact the entire business as a whole. In all, the entire summer internship was a very structured and a dynamic learning experience, and made me a better professional. I understood both theoretical and practical aspects of the work and learnt how to deal with the people, the uncertainties & lack of data, various problems, many other things. Now equipped with this kind of experience, I believe I can do better justice to my MBA curriculum in the second year and be better prepared for my career ahead.
Editor’s Note – Are you an aspiring Management professional yourself? If yes, then check out these cool MBA internships.