By Ankit Katyal, VP Communications, MBA Student Council, Class of 2017
The internship is an essential component of the MBA. We may gather all the business knowledge about finance, leadership and strategy. But, it is of little value if we do not get to apply any of it in the real world; to solve the real problems that plague a business’ operations. This was precisely my goal when I set out on the path to scouting an internship – one that would help me gain an understanding of how the taught concepts work in a business.
The whole process of landing a job involving a finite-term project was pretty intense. The interviewers tested every small aspect of my leadership mettle. It seemed like a mountain of a task to impress them with confidence that I was the right person for the job. Eventually, I was able to do so. But, I had no idea about the challenges I was going to face in the next three months.
Firstly, I ended up living in a town that didn’t offer much life outside of the job; there was nothing around to see, no places to eat, or even a movie theatre. Learning – I wish I had carefully selected the city before applying to work. Every time I came back to Manchester to pay a visit, I realised how amazing this city really is. Not every good experience can be had in London.
Secondly, I got bogged down in achieving perfection, which led to slippage of an already small amount of time. Trust me; a 12-week project timeline (to solve a business problem that several managers have been unable to crack in the last four years or so) needs rapid firing of the neurons! It took me a few reflective days to realise I was pushing myself too hard. This helped me to significantly put my head down and develop a focused approach to produce a solution in the time I had left. And, one that worked.
The internship turned out pretty well – there was a solid outcome as a result of the extensive effort to produce an actionable solution for the business issue. The senior stakeholders were satisfied, but most importantly, were interested in implementing my solution, which would have an impact on daily operations of the business. This, in my mind was my greatest win in the real world. For the first time, I had faced an almost insurmountable challenge head-on, with the only aim of succeeding and nothing else. I learned to be determined, persevere and most importantly, see the challenge as an opportunity for development.
My advice to future colleagues seeking internships and vying for a certain company for their career – take your time to research the companies and even specific roles in that sector. It really helps to know what sort of challenge you might be getting into; it helps to be just a bit more ‘ready’. For me, these were three solid months of continuous reflection that taught me three very important lessons:
1) Without an injection of creativity, hard work won’t get actionable results;
2) Implementation of the solution is critical. After doing live test runs of my forecasting/ planning tool, I was able to find various small factors I had not considered previously;
3) This is not an opportunity that comes knocking at your door very often. Grab it and make a mark!
Personally, the most important takeaway was to start assessing from the beginning whether the company will be the right place to work full-time. Because I went through a series of ups and downs (people’s willingness to help, my treatment in the system, approachability of senior leaders, friendships with associates, etc.) it was critical for me to continually assess the suitability of the role, not just the organization; if I were to do it for several years. In the end, it wasn’t very hard for me to reach that decision!
– Ankit Katyal
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