The summer internship process in most business schools fuels three thought processes in every student.
i. It is a welcome break from the academic curriculum and pressure of assignments, with a fat stipend at the end if you are lucky. ii. You intern with a firm to maximise your chances of getting a final offer from the very same firm. Such an offer, when it is made, is called a pre-placement offer or a PPO. A PPO is a job offer made to those interns whom the firm wants to recruit as full time employees due to their good performance during the summer internship. It is often declared before the final placement process takes place in a management institute. In a way, a PPO makes life easier. Now that you know you have a job up your sleeve, you can always opt out of the hassles of the final placement process. It also brings you into the radar of other good firms who might want to recruit you. This is primarily because a PPO signals you have proved yourself in the industry. Thus, the PPO route may be a good option, but it could increase the pressure on you during your internship.
iii. Getting a PPO might become an end in itself.
The more advisable strategy, though, is to learn as much about the industry, company or function you are going to perform as an intern and evaluate whether it is interesting enough for you to come back to this industry or company after graduation.
This strategy reduces the pressure on you. In the bargain, you make a more informed and correct decision about the company and industry.
Choosing the right company/ industryYour choice is a function of many parameters, such as your past profile in terms of academics, extra-curricular activities, positions of responsibilities in earlier jobs and your overall personality.
Many candidates are clueless about what they want to do after post-graduation. There is a tendency to resort to the herd mentality and run to the most lucrative companies.
I believe every candidate has to realise his potential and limitations; one way of doing this is through the summer placement process.
For example, investment banking is currently very hot on most campuses in India. However, not all can be investment bankers. The profile most investment banking companies look for is a good mathematical grounding and an ability to crunch numbers quickly. Whether one has this profile and whether one is cut out for such a role is the question every candidate must answer after getting information from the industry people and sources like seniors, company Web sites, presentations from companies, etc.Is marketing your forte?The expectations of a firm offering a marketing role are quite different. Marketing firms look for an overall personality, someone who has diverse interests and has held positions of responsibility before.
They need people who are outgoing, have the ability to take on responsibility, to work in teams and provide new and diverse perspectives -- these qualities are rated highly by marketing companies over and above the scholastic ability of a person.
It counts from the perspective of the marketing firm if a candidate has done something really extraordinarily different. My entrepreneurial experience was highly rated by most marketing firms who shortlisted me for an interview Preparing for your interviewSome basic knowledge about the tools in marketing will be useful. The segment's target positioning and the 4Ps --product, price, place and promotion -- should suffice for most marketing firms.
Keeping abreast of new practices by reading about the latest development in the world of marketing through journals published by the American Marketing Association is a great option. It is, however, not necessary at the first year level.
Keeping abreast with knowledge about various sectors such as FMCG, telecom, insurance, airlines, etc, is an added advantage. On the personal front, one must be ready to defend every point on his or her resume. This is important from the point of view of the interviewer; at no point should he feel that you are overstating your resume. This particularly happens with people with certain achievements -- not limited to a rank or an academic achievement -- that require explanation. For me, many of my interviews were based on my entrepreneurial experience rather than my experience in software or my academic profile. I was asked questions that tested my depth of knowledge in order to ascertain the statements I had made on my resume. When the going gets toughFinally, one must learn to cope with pressure during the summer's process. There are many resumes that may be as good as or better than yours and the competition can get tough. Often the summer process happens at a stretch. In such cases, the process can get really tiring. It starts playing on people's minds once they are in the third or fourth of the placement process and more than half the batch is placed. The important thing to remember is that the summer placement process is not an end in itself; it is a stepping-stone to greater success after the completion of the MBA programme.