11 Jun 2019 16:39 IST

Retailer internships that aim to make a difference

A total of 18 students from Chennai city colleges experienced retailing and customer interactions first hand

Several students of Chennai city colleges had a unique internship experience for a month in May. They interned with TimeLinks, a retail franchise of jewellery and watch maker, Titan Co Ltd, which is now the second most valuable company in the Tata group in terms of market capitalisation.

Timelinks, headed by C Sivakumar, is a retail franchise for all of Titan’s major brands — Titan watches, Tanishq jewellery as well as Titan Eyeplus, its eyewear brand.

The students from colleges such as Loyola, Madras Christian College, MOP Vaishnav, among other city colleges, visited all of TimeLinks’ stores, experienced retailing and customer interactions first hand, were exposed to lectures by business leaders and even a Rabbi from Austria, and also paid a visit to the Tanishq factory in Hosur to get a feel of manufacturing processes.

Young business leader Sarath Babu spoke to the interns on how he converted challenges to opportunity. Rabbi Schlomo from Austria spoke n the need for integrity in business transactions; Vadivel Pillai spoke on goal setting and power of mind; Kavya, a drummer, conveyed the message of gender equality while Chetan Karodia, car racer, spoke about his achievements despite challenges. In all, quite an eclectic mix of lectures. These sessions were rounded off with J Rajiv Choudhry, a theatre personality and leadership and performance coach who uses theatre techniques in his training workshops to improve communication, confidence and customer centricity.


So, why is a retailer investing so much in training in an industry which perhaps doesn’t pay as much attention to training as other industries do, and one which is rife with attrition? As Sivakumar, who has been in retailing for nearly 25 years, explains, “We need to show that retail is a great place to work and for that we can’t keep complaining; I need to contribute to make it a great place to work.”

Sivakumar explains that a couple of years ago, TimeLinks had hired a couple of diploma holders who blossomed with some good training. Training, he realized improved both efficiency and efficacy of the interns. “Retailers don’t get the best of talent. If we have to make our work places a great place to work, I too need to contribute to make it so,” explains Sivakumar.

Having started this exercise, Sivakumar intends to make these internships an annual affair. “I want a funnel where talented youth would prefer to come into retail as a profession so we have to shape them to be future leaders.” Sivakumar is well aware that those who intern with him may or may not choose to work with TimeLinks once they are out of college, but if they choose to enter retailing, the industry as a whole will benefit, is his conviction.

In the video below, a few internees who went through the programme, speak on the benefits of the internship.