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Lessons from my internship: An MBA shares her story

December 20, 2016 09:50 IST

'I was ecstatic when I was told that my work was good enough to be implemented --  they were actually revamping the process based on my recommendations!'

Upasana Modi from WeSchool, Mumbai tells us how her two-month internship with a leading textile firm taught her important life lessons.

"Upasana, you are next!" My train of thoughts was brought to a screeching, abrupt halt and I was jolted back into the present with these words.

It was 6 pm, and finally, it was my turn to be interviewed.

When I had enrolled into the MBA HR program at Welingkar, I had naively hoped that my days as an interviewee were done and dusted. But a 20 minute-long discussion on the finer aspects of Human Resources Management during the interview round proved that they were far from over.

The cycle of telephone calls and shortlisting continued for a while until finally, two out of 35 applicants from my batch were selected for a summer internship with Welspun India, a global textile player, with its corporate office in the industrial hub of megapolis Mumbai -- Lower Parel.

My excitement knew no bounds as my name featured alongside my batchmate in the final list.

However, as luck would have it, my first day at work was full of trials and trepidation.

As the famous saying goes -- 'Trouble never comes alone -- when it rains, it pours'. From cab drivers that refused to ply to being infected with the flu, Murphy's Law seemed to be working overtime to wreck the start of my internship.

All my professors' warnings for not being late echoed in my ears as I walked into office. Shaken. And over 30 minutes late.

As the manager I was to report to, approached to receive me, I braced myself for a scolding, only to be surprised when I was asked "Are you sure you're alright? You look pale."

That one question sparked an epiphany for me. Here I was, experiencing first-hand what my professors extolled as one of the most crucial virtues HR personnel should possess -- the ability to empathise and connect with people.

The mini crisis in my life, thus turned out to be a major learning for me and set the tone for the days to follow.

One of the first tasks we were assigned to, in the course of our internship was assisting the department in migrating from traditional physical files to e-storage of documents.

While this might seem like a menial, administrative task, I was honestly taken aback by the sheer volume of data maintained -- the office was quite literally running out of space! And I marvelled as one file after another disappeared into the digital systems.

While I was always aware of the convenience e-storage of documents would bring, never in my wildest dreams had I imagined how much cost could be saved simply by not maintaining physical files!

A week later, I was assigned my project for the rest of the internship -- revamping the induction process for graduate engineer trainees.

The company wanted to move beyond superficial orientation and put in place a hands-on induction programme that would not only help new joinees understand their roles and duties, but also help them establish a connect with the organisation -- something that plays a crucial role in their decision to stick with the company in future.

My next weeks were spent doing on-ground research -- interviewing past trainees, understanding the gaps in the existing program, looking up procedures followed by companies in similar sectors -- and going back to my books to grasp what concepts and ideas I could use and apply, and more importantly, understanding their viability, to create better processes.

At the end of my two-month long exercise, I had created, with inputs from my manager, a brand new induction process -- from the flow to the materials required, and everything in between.

I was ecstatic when I was told that my work was good enough to be implemented --  they were actually revamping the process based on my recommendations!

I can confidently state that nothing compares to the pride you feel when you can see the results of your perseverance being put into action. And this achievement would not have been possible without constant support of my internal and alumni mentor, who were always there to encourage me to try out new ways and keep my knowledge up to date.

My internship was an eye-opener for me. It gave me a wonderful opportunity to observe the theories I had learned in classrooms, in action -- in a real-life setting.

These weren't case studies. These were living, breathing people dealing with real situations and bringing out tangible results by working together.

Interacting with them through the course of the internship not only helped me learn, but also reminded me of an old HR acronym and how it holds true even today -- 'TEAM – Together Everyone Achieves More'.

Dear readers, have you recently completed your internship?

How did you land the internship? What was the experience like?

What were the responsibilities you handled? What lessons did you learn?

Share your experiences, good and bad with us.

E-mail your story to getahead@rediff.co.in (Subject: Internship Lessons) along with your NAME, AGE, LOCATION and photograph, if possible. We'll feature the best ones on Rediff.com.

Lead image used for representational purposes only. Image: Matylda Czarnecka/Creative Commons