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.
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.
IIM Lucknow, Batch of 2003