I didn’t let my project demotivate me. I got a PPI

Deepali Agarwal

I did my summer internship at Castrol in 2005. Got a PPI, converted to a PPO. I didn’t end up taking the offer as I had an offer from HUL. Worked in CPG sales & marketing for ~14 years across organizations like HUL, J&J, and Danone, in Health & Hygiene categories – Skin Care, Feminine Hygiene, Baby Care, Packaged Foods, Nutrition.

I still remember my summer internship very fondly for the learning as well as friendships I cultivated there.

My summer internship project was not a mainstream sales or marketing project. I worked on a solar energy project for Castrol India which was offbeat and also exploratory.

Like most freshers, this being the 1st corporate experience, I too wanted to do a more fancy assignment which involved developing advertising. Some of my fellow interns were working on projects around brand campaigns, sales structure, training modules which were an immediate need of the business.

I was demotivated to learn that my project was in an exploratory solar energy space which had a high likelihood of never seeing the light of day. But I decided to give it my best shot and use it as a learning opportunity.

I took 3 steps which made it really fun eventually:

1. I had a candid conversation with my project guide on my expectation and demotivation. He comforted me on the learning & contribution opportunity that my project presented. He also understood my need to be a part of a team and involved me in team events despite working on an exploratory project.

2. Soon into the project, I realised I need to work with multiple functions – supply chain, finance, exports, etc. and I leveraged this opportunity for learning about various facets of an organization and also about the people & culture. It also gave the organization a chance to evaluate me more holistically.

3. I got along well with fellow interns and took an active interest in their projects. This not only gave me a bigger view of the organization’s direction, I made lifelong friends in that process. Some of us are still pretty close and connected.

The humility of being a beginner, the curiosity of learning something new, and the excitement of contributing to an organization – were the 3 big takeaways for me.

My PPI was also centred around these behavioural aspects and led to the conversion to a PPO. In fact, the VP marketing (my super boss during my internship) has been a mentor since and I have consulted him from time to time in my journey.

I think a summer internship is the time to learn about an organization, forge great relationships, and contribute wholeheartedly to whatever project you’ve been given. You are sure to come out richer from the experience if you embrace it fully, without any prejudice.

Deepali Agarwal,

IIM Lucknow, Batch of 2006, 

Top 40 Marketers Under 40

How I Converted My Summer Internship to a PPI/PPO: My 7-Point Playbook

pallavi-rao-iiml-2003-ppo

It’s been about 18 years since I interned with Citi, back in the summer of 2002.

I was assigned to the e-biz team(aka Internet Banking unit), a band of highly energized, very bright, driven
individuals who challenged you but also encouraged you to do your very best. A few months later, I was back at the bank for my PPI which then converted to a PPO. I joined the coveted Management Associate Program in 2003 after graduating from B-school. That year, just 1 other offer was made on campus by Citi, so having that PPO made all the difference.


Here’s my 7-point playbook.

1 Play To Your Strengths

Every project has a problem at its core, but the way you get to your solution can play to your strengths. I was comfortable with numbers and used my internship to number crunch my way
through reams of data to come up with an analysis on customer behaviour for a certain digital
banking product. It may not have been the original route map, but once it was handed to me, I
knew that I’d use data to make the case. Another intern used his cold-calling skills to speak to
dozens of people instead. Find your strength and use it.

2 Ask For What You Need

Don’t sit quietly by, waiting for things to come your way. If you need some information or resources – just ask! This is not the time for ‘jugaad’ or ‘managing with what you know’. Your proactive approach and confidence in asking for what you need might make a good impression too. After all, that could mean tomorrow you’d make sure you pitched hard for whatever the team needs if you’re on it.

3 That Extra Mile? Go For it!

There is no substitute for this. Working smart is good too, but if you go the extra mile, people will
appreciate it. Also, as an intern you may not know enough to be able to take effective shortcuts (if you do, good on you!), but the capacity to put in hard work is something you have in abundance. This is no time for the lazy you. Ten-hut soldier!

4 Ask Questions

Find out why they commissioned that project and what they “really” want out of it. Make sure
your understanding of that one line project description is the same as what they intended. Find
out how things work. Find out who to ask about what.

5 Get Feedback – Early.

Don’t wait until presentation day to get feedback from senior members of the team. Find out
early on what they think of the broad direction your project is taking. Course correct if you’re
way off base.

6 Be The Sticky Tape On Haddock’s Hat

Tintin fans will remember the scene where a pesky bit of sticky tape had Haddock occupied for
hours. Be that sticky tape. Just less annoying, please. The point I am making is that everyone is
at work. And they’re busy. But if you need their time, keep at it until they fit you in. No one cares
as much about converting your internship to a PPO than you do. So try. Harder.

7 Network!

There’s no way around this. As you head into your corporate careers after campus, networking will play a big role in how successfully you’re able to get your plans approved, how effective their rollout will be, and even the speed and efficiency with which you can get things done.
These connections can be cultivated both within the organization and outside, but for now, focus
your effort on getting to interact with as many people as you can within the company. Whether it
is someone your guide introduces you to or someone you meet at the cafeteria, casually strike
up a conversation. Chances are you’ll learn something new about the organization, the job, or
just make a new connection. I made many fabulous connections with people across teams and
levels on the smoking balcony. And no, I don’t smoke. I’d head out with my cup of coffee for
some fresh air and if someone happened to be there puffing away into my fresh air, I’d wind up
having an interesting discussion anyway.
Also, your PPI will typically involve other business heads/middle to top management of the company beyond the unit you were attached to for summer, it might help your cause if you know a little more about other teams and their views ahead of time.

7.1 Get To Know The Other Interns

That bit about networking? Make time to meet the other summer interns. With current internships taking on virtual avatars this may be harder, but it is likely there’s a whatsapp group for interns already. If there isn’t – make one! Fellow interns could be future colleagues. Your ability to mingle across unit/team borders might also get spotted. Again, you have nothing to lose. At worst, you’d have company for those after work movies/coffees. At best, some of you will get PPOs and you’ll have a friend or two before you even join.


Converting your summer internship to that coveted PPI or PPO could be your end goal, but if you give it all you’ve got, you’ll wind up learning lots along the way – regardless of whether you join this organization or not. And remember, the people you networked with could be hiring in another company tomorrow. So it isn’t just about this job, but potential future jobs too.

pallavi-rao-iiml-2003-ppo

Happy interning!
Pallavi Rao
IIM Lucknow, Batch of 2003

Companies: How to use Placecom.org

If you are a recruiter or are representing a company that is looking to hire a remote intern from PlaceCom.Org – do take 2 minutes to read through this article. It will help you make the best of the platform.

Posting a new internship

  1. Join Placecom.Org as a Corporate executive
  2. Go to your dashboard and click on “Add a new internship”
  3. Fill up the details including – company name, website, project title, details of the project etc
  4. Once posted, we will review and approve the internship. Post approval, students can view and apply for your project

Checking applicants for my project

You can login to your dashboard and click on any of the projects, to see a list of all applicants for that internship. Against each applicant’s name you would see easy ways to

  • Connect (linkedin, email)
  • Download their CVs
  • Shortlist applicants
  • Make offer to the top candidates

Tips for using Placecom.org as a recruiter

  • Take the time to write a compelling project description. Do talk about why this is not just a report at the end of two months, but an opportunity to learn and contribute in the business of the venture
  • If you are looking to hire multiple interns across projects, it is better to post them as separate projects.
  • Please make shortlists and offers via the platform. Why? It allows us to stay focused on the core objective of getting max number of students placed. As a process, any student who is offered is deemed to have accepted and will be out of the placement process. Your support in doing this will go a long way in delivering the desired impact ! This also works as a strong signalling measure – the dashboard gets updated realtime.
  • Pause the internship – If you have begun the shortlist process and do NOT want any fresh applications, you can “pause” the internship from your dashboard.

Our Journey at PlaceCom.Org

14th Apr 2020

Day 17 and we are at 1495 applications and 121 shortlists with 15 offers.

Placecom.Org Day 17 metrics
Placecom Day 17

12th Apr 2020

Day 14 and we have just seen the 14th offer being rolled out on PlaceCom.Org. 40+ opportunities still open for MBA Internships 2020

2nd Apr 2020

Its day 5 and we have our first offer and sign-off !. Yay

30th Mar 2020

MBA internships 2020, dashboard created.

We have 22 opportunities from 10 internships. 180 students registered. A few of the internships are from people 2 degrees away. Word is getting around and we are getting started.

Looks like we may be able to help a few students get their remote internships in these times !

Feeling good. Its been a v hectic last 6 days !

28th Mar 2020

We get consistent feedback that it is very tough to offer even 25K Rs as stipend, especially when startups are cutting down costs (incl salaries) in a big way. We reduce our minimum stipend to Rs 10K

26th-29th Mar 2020

Multiple new features added incl

  • Apply for internships
  • Recruiters can view all applicants and do single-click shortlist/offer
  • Emailers for multiple status change incl shortlist, apply, offer
  • Reminder emailers for new applicants, incomplete profile
  • We have our first overseas intern opportunity from IME Digital – Nepal

25th Mar 2020

Placecom.org goes live with limited functionalities

  • Signin and login for students & recruiters
  • Min Rs 25K pm stipend
  • Students can upload CV and share their interests.
  • Students can still not apply for any internships
  • We managed to list 3 internships – from mTuzo, WishFin

24th Mar 2020

A few of us feel that there were way too many posts on LinkedIn about cancelled internships, that it needed something to be done. Something which cuts the noise and taps into the underlying collective strength of our Linkedin networks. We promise we would be live (with limited functionalities)

Reducing the minimum stipend

We laid some ground rules when we launched PlaceCom.Org two days back. One of which was a minimum stipend of Rs 25K per month.

We were also mindful that some of these parameters would change basis the feedback we were getting.

One such consistent feedback is the need to lower the stipend.

And hence as of today, we are introducing a new stipend slab of Rs 10K per month.

Why – we have a strong pool of candidates but the supply of internships is constrained. If reducing the stipend, helps us immediately create a larger pool of projects, it makes absolute sense.

If need be, we may introduce a Free slab too, soon !

As a platform, we are committed to gather quick feedback and adapt ourselves accordingly. This is one such attempt.

Update: 5th Apr 2020 – we have now introduced “Unpaid” as a category.

Students : How to build your profile

Dear Students,

While one of the key objectives of the Placecom.org platform was to avoid any duplication of efforts at your end, we do need 5 minutes of your time to help build a compelling profile.

So read on and follow these steps.

Step1 – activate account

Once you join, you will receive an activation email in your inbox. Pls do click on the link there to activate your placecom.org account. If you cannot find the email in your inbox, pls look in the SPAM or the junk folder. Also do add hello[at]placecom[dot]org to your address book.

step 2 – complete your profile

Your dashboard has a section which shows your profile. Make sure that your profile has all the fields updated including

  • A pdf CV file uploaded
  • Institute mapped (absolutely essential). Your institute is the surest way for your profile to be noticed.
  • Focus/specialization areas mentioned (you can choose multiple)
  • Summary – not more than 500 characters – a quick 1 liner about you
  • About – a detailed profile about who you are and what you bring to table

And that’s it !

Once you this, check your public profile and ensure that it has all the fields updated.

What next?

Just check out the open internships. And apply to whichever you find interesting.

From Fall to Rise

I am taken back decades back to my time when I was getting hired for a summer internship. It was August 2003, hot sultry afternoon and I had my first interaction with the first company that chose to visit to potentially hiring summer interns.

Now I understand, there is almost nothing similar between now and that time. This will be remote for you, I had the opportunity to show up in person. I was lucky, I got hired amongst the first batch of 7 students in the first company that visited us – Whirlpool then. The reason I mention this is to say, you are in good hands.

Or maybe not! 🙂
Here’s the second part of the story. It was final placements time. January beginning, cold days. And since I had gotten hired first in summers, I was unconsciously quite clear, I will be landing a great job before things even start quite.

Not quite though! Haha (I can laugh about it now!)
So, my sister was to get married in less than 3 weeks and my parents and sister were heavily occupied with work that just comes with marriage. Pun intended.

Before day 1, I recall many coveted companies then like ITC and some other companies had come and I think I just casually sat around, making the others wrong for creating what they called then a fish market, and thinking oh you know its just so much below my dignity to engage in this and hopefully the company personnel will also feel the same.

Well they did not!

And while, I did not appreciate it at all then, I do now in hindsight. It taught me to fall and rise.

A great lesson, life tends to teach us all at different times.
Day 1 went by. Day 2 of placements went by. And that’s when I called home late evening. And my sister picked up and I said ‘Didi, mera toh abhi tak nahi hua, kaafi logon ka ho gaya and the process will end soon. I want you all to tell me some tips and what to do. Especially in a fish market, when I don’t say anything.’
My sister, who is amazing in many ways, especially including impact in group discussions and interviews, told me my folks and she were headed to my hostel, crossing three states.

I was relatively detached to career as I continue to be, yet completely committed. And while other students were really panicking, I would usually be reassuring them.

Yet, I was relieved.
My parents and sister have been my north star, especially in such matters. What they say Works! I am not mentioning their accolades, just know they are from the best of the best places across India and the globe, and have given guidance to hundreds of students. And somehow, every time, the student goes for the next interview or discussion they ace it!

I did too. Day 3, and morning came and I spoke some and I was chosen immediately.

What did my folks and sister tell me? While I don’t recall word to word, heres the essence of what I feel they would have.

You are awesome!
You are the best.
They will be really lucky to get you. Do you agree? I nodded.
Your time has come.
All you got to do is go there, smile, be yourself and you will be selected.
I promise.

And they have always lived their promises.

So now, for you, my dear student reader, your time has come. Your are awesome. You are the best. The companies can’t wait to get you on their team. So irrespective its a video or audio call, smile, be yourself and you will be selected.
I promise.

Lots of love,
The Universe

How can I help PlaceCom.Org

Are you a startup?

As a startup we usually have more work than available bandwidth. Tap into the young talent that is available on Placecom.org and get them to work on some of the interesting challenges you are facing.

Some live examples:

Are you a corporate executive

We know these are tough times and the first week of lockdown has been focused on getting the business to stabilize as teams WFH. We get it ! We have also been busy coordinating across internal and external teams to get business closer to BAU.

Can we request you to come back and think of one or two internships that can be created. We promise we will help you with tools and best practices to make these as impactful as possible.

Are you in the placement committee of your bSchool

If you have found us, make it your job to ensure all the students looking for their summer internships, register here.

We still have very few students from each campus. Maybe its a good sign that most others are placed. But from what we have seen on LinkedIn posts, it seems the others have still not discovered us.

While we are doing our bit to get to students who are still looking for their internships.

Help us, help you (you should see my Jerry Maguire imitation – its hilarious !)

Are you a student who still has no confirmed internship

Then you are on the wrong page !

You should be filling up this form right now !

Remote Internship Resources

Remote onboarding

Managing Remote Internships

Managing remote interviews

It can be tough, to interview on phone/Skype/Zoom. Trust me, have been there. But we can surely learn to get better at it.

Remote onboarding of employees/interns

The onboarding experience is probably the first real experience of your intern/employee with your organization (ok maybe its the second interaction after the interview!)

And lockdown or not, remote or in-office, its an opportunity to create a good first impression.

Remote onboarding

Now Nagarro India seems to have cracked it.. but for those still figuring out how to do it efficiently, we have you covered