20 Nov 2015 19:25 IST

Experiencing a gamut of emotions

Interning at the Aditya Birla Group helped me gain critical industry insights

As I sit down to write this article, I am gripped by a strong sense of nostalgia: memories of my time at Aditya Birla Group (AGB), where I interned.

Trudging back memory lane, I can recall the memories vividly. As the time of internship drew nearer, a sense of anticipation and anxiety was palpable among selected candidates, as ABG is known for sending interns to a foreign location.

The moment of reckoning finally arrived and all interns were given their respective location and project details — I was supposed to intern at the headquarters in Mumbai. Although not a foreign location, I was excited, since this was my first stint at the industrial capital of the country. Much to my consternation though, I was not given the project details. Why? We will get on to the reason later.

The journey

And so started the journey. Selected candidates from the best B-schools around the country were to undergo induction at the famed Learning Centre of ABG. We were accommodated for two days at the learning centre, where we underwent a series of knowledge transfer sessions from some of the senior leaders. This included an amazing experiential learning event and the customary after-induction party, which brought the eclectic group of individuals together. (Carpe Diem! I made a lot of amazing friends during this time).

And it was during the party that I got know about my projects — a cluster of seven projects were awaiting me and that was precisely the reason why I wasn’t given the details earlier!

Getting down to work

After the initial three days whizzed past, it was time to get serious and get kicking. All the interns were accommodated at ABG’s guest houses. Apart from the fact that it saved us a lot of money and time (food of course, was an added bonus), it aided in strengthening the sense of bonhomie that prevailed amongst us interns.

Finally it was time to go to the headquarters. With a sense of trepidation, I made my way to the ABG headquarters with my fellow interns. I was greeted by my mentor and shown to the desk where I was supposed to spend the better part of my next eight weeks.

A meeting ensued and I was briefed by my mentor regarding the deliverables and the respective deadlines. She set the expectations for the internship and hinted that the number of meetings should be less, but extremely meaningful. I understood that I had to ensure I had to ask only the right questions and not venture into abstract discussions. At the outset, I realised immediately that I had to start working immediately and working well, because the number as well as the scope of the deliverables was quite wide.

The projects given to me covered a gamut of issues — employer branding initiatives, compensation, HR analytics, validating the psychometry instrument, employee engagement, need analysis for a HR initiative and validation of a framework.

Parallel processing was the key to ensure that deadlines were being met. I maintained a calendar and stuck to it. Also, since it was a conglomerate, there were more variables to consider than normal before making a decision, because too many dots are interconnected.

The amount of exposure and learning I garnered from these projects was quite high, since they allowed me to interact with senior leaders across the various businesses of the conglomerate and gain critical insights about the business needs, in addition to aligning HR strategy to achieve these needs. (Although this sounds “global”, I couldn’t have put it better). I was also involved in negotiations with external vendors for the HR initiatives, which helped me gather a great deal of learning, regarding the aspects of business deals.

Towards the end

And thus the internship went on for eight weeks. There were crests and troughs but on the whole, it was worth the time and experience. Yes, I encountered several trials and tribulations — running for appointments, mailing people repeatedly for information, interviewing those who did not want to be interviewed, exploring Mumbai with the ABG interns; I can go on and on. But in the end, these experiences only made the internship that much more special. Finally, instead of ending this article with a customary conclusion, I would prefer to share some of my key takeaways from the experience.

Do not throw jargons for the sake of it. Ask yourself if it makes business sense.

Stay persistent, or else the information you require will never reach you in time.

Ask pertinent questions to your mentor as well as others.

Divide your deliverables in modules and work systematically.

In case of contingencies, work harder and faster.

Understand the culture of the organisation and behave accordingly.

Acquaint yourself quickly to the people as well as the processes.

Do not get disappointed if someone says ‘Yeh na ho payega’ or ‘It won’t work in this organisation’.

Explore the place you are interning at. And don’t forget to have a blast!

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