Summer Internships: The Bad That Turned Out to be Good
| July 30,2012 05:16 pm IST
Never did I think I would land up in such a summer internship, not that it is awful but it is different, In fact very different. My dream summer internship consisted of interacting and networking with some eminently educated people, sweating for a company in an air conditioned cubicle, designing strategies for companys products.
HUL, Britannia, Ogilvy and Mather, Leo Burnett was some of my fantasy companies but soon these hallucinations came to an end. I landed up in Reliance Dairy Life Pvt Ltd.
One of my dreams was to work for a FMCG company and that came true. On the first day of my internship I was given the brief of my project. It was to study the consumer behaviour and the satisfaction level of the dairy life users. The second day was quiet an adventurous one. We spent nine hours understanding the processing and packaging of the pouch milk and were then asked to analyze the working of the logistics and this was supposed to be done for coming three dayssorry coming three nights.
My first night with logistics is something I cannot dismiss from mind for rest of my life. We were asked to scrutinize the distribution network that night. I sat on the neighboring seat of the driver and he pushed the keys in the hole and brought the vehicle alive. The vehicle roared its way to a petrol pump all safe and sound and that was the last time in next 4 hours I heard it roaring. As soon as the fuel tank was full the vehicles breathe it last. Now I had to do something that wasnt the part of my job description. I got down the truck and saw the drivers abandoned-puppy-dog face. He whistled and called for help, some workers at the petrol pump came running and took their position around the truck. At the count of three we started pushing a van loaded with 200 crates of milk with each crate containing 10 litres of milk. This went for three hours. It was 2 in the night. Thankfully a mechanic arrived at the petrol pump and fixed the problem for us. This was just the start, my second night was spent in a van filled with more mosquitoes than the crates. For one night I even helped the workers unloading the van at various dairies.
I guess milk industry is the one which works 24/7 and 365 days of the year. It is an inseparable part of festivals, celebrations, and everyday life. I wanted to be close to my product and my interaction with milk was unimaginable. It started with the day my mother bringing the milk, then sharing a cutting chai at a tacky tea stall with the sales person of my company, then visiting the chaiwalla at every corner of the road, the sweet vendor, and the dahi makers.
After the adventurous nights we started studying the sales procedures of the company with the sales personnel. The experience with these people on field was tremendous. Though my dreams of meeting people in shinny suits were shattered, I met some of the people in tattered clothes, beetle leaves stained teeth, and shabby hair people teaching me the marketing concepts in practicality. I was interacting with people who were hardly literate, used abusive languages instead of good morning sir but were closest to the consumers. It is here that I learnt why consumers do by a certain product and how can companies place their products in their target groups hands. This strolling around the crowded lanes of Mumbai went for some number of weeks. Though it was quite a work it turned out to be a class full of knowledge which I dont think would have been easy to get in the four walls of our sophisticated college.
Leaving in the comfort of the urban city where everything is at ones disposal I had totally forgotten what it would be to leave in a place where one can hardly see a human in a distance of 8kms. I was lucky to be exposed to such an environment even. Some of my days were also spent in the remote areas of Maharashtra from where came the milk for my company. We traveled in the ST buses to this area and stayed in a small cottage. The most unthought-of part was interacting with the farmers and also experiencing the milking of cows. I saw them only on televisions but doing it by oneself is totally cool.
I for sure did not get any chance to travel in cars, board flights or stay in luxurious four stared hotels like some of the companies did it for my classmates, but I got a chance to experience the rusty customer centric Mumbai. Thanks to the travelling involved.
Then came the part where we had to test the satisfaction level. I had heard a lot about the blind taste test conducted by Pepsi but never did I imagine this will happen to me. I with my group decide to conduct the same test at marts, shopping centre and colleges. The various responses baffled us but minus the details of the same, it was a huge learning experience.
Sales are done by using the very famous Indian technique Saam Daam Dand Bhed said one of my friend during this expedition. I have seen the sales people toiling under the scorching sun to strike a deal. Though I being an MBA student I found it extremely painful to sell even a single crate to the distributors! Its not an easy job.
This internship taught me the dignity of labor. Its upon us to decide how we perceive things. For any other person this internship would seem like a nightmare, but to me it was a reality check. Nothing comes the easy way to anyone. The bubble that I built was very chimerical. I forgot the fact that more you blow the bubble the sooner it bursts. I had entered the campus of SIESCOMS with the dream of experiencing the weight of heavy pay packages and being a member of a blue chip company, but this summer internship made me tougher for anything that comes my way. From now on I will ever be ready for any severities, and the luxuries are always welcome!