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.
IIM Lucknow, Batch of 2006,
Top 40 Marketers Under 40