It’s that time of the year, when summer interns from leading business schools come on board for a few weeks. I was asked by my HR business partner to share my views with the interns on how to maximise their time with us. As I gave it a thought, here are some vectors that I encouraged them to think about:
Think commercial model, not domain
Don’t get too worried about the functional role. Resist the peer pressure of being linear about projects in sales & marketing and remain open to projects in finance, HR, enabling functions, operations etc. Every role will give you a certain world view and for what it’s worth, incomplete at best. It’s smarter to think about learning the commercial model of the business i.e. how does the enterprise make money and the role that a certain function plays in the scheme of things. This enables you to think about inter-linkages within the enterprise, the pull & pressure of getting things done and the end commercial outcome that everyone needs to focus on. In any case, 8 weeks is too short a time to get a visceral understanding of any one domain.
‘Who’ matters more than ‘What’
At this stage, who you work with matters a lot more than what type of projects you get involved in. You have no influence on this decision and it’s a roll of dice at best. The best you can do is ‘observe with purpose’ and ‘tag along’. Watch your guide in action, tag along to important meetings and watch issues being debated, decisions being made and team dynamics playing out.
Be deliberate about learning
This can sound counter intuitive as the entire internship experience is built around the premise of learning. If you are not deliberate, the 8 weeks will be over before you know it and the only tangible takeaway will be a signed certificate and a project synopsis. Here are things you can consider doing:
- Journal your observations every week around people, process and commercial models
- Schedule reflection time with your guide every week for an hour. Debrief your learning and the way forward
- Share your takeaways with a wider audience via a blog, enterprise social network or an email
- Spend a day every week in the market
Start a Learning SIP
Start a systematic investment plan focused on your personal growth and acceleration. Start with your internship payout and build it every month. Leverage this fund to support any personal learning adventure that the organisation may not be in a position to support. This can range from taking a paid MOOC, attending a conference, travelling for a seminar, acquiring a certification etc. This will give you the best ROI compared to any other investments you chose to make in the long run. The ability to keep learning and reinventing yourself is becoming the only sustainable edge for both individuals and organisations.
In any large organisation there will be enough to whine about but there’s also enough to do. So whine less, do more and have fun.
Sunder has over 15 years of experience and has worked with organizations like Pfizer, Jardine Lloyd Thompson, 7, WCH Training Solutions & Convergys. Sunder has done Instructional Design, Human Resource Management, Customer Relationship Management, Entrepreneurship from Symbiosis Center For Distance Learning (SCDL).