04 May 2015 12:50 IST

Learning on the Job

An MBA student discusses his experiences applying classroom learning to real time problems

For anyone doing a two-year MBA or equivalent course in India, a summer internship is one of the most important phases of the programmeme. It is a transformative experience as one learns to apply knowledge acquired in the classroom to real problems and come up with feasible solutions. Most projects involve the execution of recommended solutions. Internship experiences are different for people with and without work experience. Prior experience however, does not undermine the utility of the internship. I had worked for two years –- in the R&D division of a specialty chemical MNC and in a business development/ client servicing role at an enterprise mobility startup.

I had an offer from Pidilite Industries Limited to pursue a two-month summer internship in Sales and Marketing. As I had some experience in digital marketing, I was offered a project in the same domain in the Construction Chemicals Division. The first two days of the internship were spent on understanding the company’s five business divisions, the product mix sold by each business and a general introduction to the company’s history, legacy and values.

After that, I received the project details and was assigned to the Marketing Head of the division, who would be my mentor. The primary goal of the project was to engage and educate the population of influencers, viz., architects and contractors using digital media. This was to be done by suggesting ways to strengthen the established “Architect Connect Programme” and increase the support given to contractors/applicators. The focus was on enhancing the Website and suggesting social media initiatives to direct a steady stream of high quality leads to the Website and to the Dr. Fixit Tech Helpline.

Based on the project scope chalked, I created a plan for the remaining seven weeks. The scope of the project was defined as:

Initial analysis of the digital marketing efforts of Dr. Fixit.

Analysis of the digital marketing efforts and social media presence of competitors.

Survey of 25-30 architects and contractors in Mumbai to understand current sources and types of information they consume regularly, their awareness and usage of the Website, their social media presence and usage, information dissemination by competitors and architects’ preferred sources to receive information.

Suggestions for the Website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube pages/ accounts.

Feasibility analysis of mobile app.

Any other deliverable that may come up as part of the continuing discussions and work during the internship.

As defined in the scope, the first thing I did was to use secondary research to analyse what Dr. Fixit and the competitors were doing. The definition of competition was expanded to include companies which offered different products, but to the same target group of customers. While I was doing this analysis, I was also working on a questionnaire for the primary research and got it approved from my mentor. Primary research consisted of interacting with architects and contractors and getting insights from them. Based on primary and secondary research, and competitive benchmarking, recommendations were given for the Website, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, YouTube, Blog and LinkedIn.

As I completed most parts of the project quite early, additional targets were added to the project scope during the mid-term review. These included creation of a Wikipedia page and mobile application wireframes. I was also given the opportunity to present my ideas to the digital agency and work towards their execution.

The two months at Pidilte were a wonderful learning experience as I understood the nuances of digital marketing and the Construction Chemicals business. I realised how important it was to build relations with people. Another important thing I learnt was that for any new implementation, it was necessary to assign responsibility to somebody. Without that, the recommendations would most likely remain on paper.

My work was appreciated by all, including the senior business leaders as well as the President of the division. The internship experience also led to me being appointed to advise IIM Indore on exploiting digital media to the institute’s advantage by the Director. .