Summer of hope

Summer of hope

Premier business schools (B-schools) have completed their summer placements for this season. Unlike final placementsthat start in February in these schools, summer placements (internships) typically end by December.

Such is the importance placed on this key practical learning component of management education by the top dozenIndian B-schools. However, in stark contrast, for the ‘emerging’ and ‘Tier-2’ B-schools – ranked between 20 and 70 – this process may have barely begun or worse such a structured event does not even exist. Students of such B-schools are either left to fend for themselves or offered a ‘project’ as a last resort by their B-schools. It is small wonder then that students of these B-schools hardly receive any pre-placement offers (PPOs) – a key job source. But, this can change. And change for the better.

A well-designed internship program benefits major stakeholders of a B-school. Apart from acting as an excellent brand building exercise for the B-school, internship program offers much needed consultancy and research opportunities with industry. Corporates can make better hiring decisions as they get a chance to closely assess the performance and suitability of potential employees. Finally, in most cases, the student gets to work in the chosen area of her interest and in the preferred company leading to a possible PPO.However, for these benefits to accrue, some steps need to be taken.

First, the B-school is to create and nurture a student-led internship ecosystem. By leveraging student creativity and with judicious use of resources, the program can be made into a regular on-campus published event. Second, to harness the student potential, corporates should offer clearly scoped work with realistic deliverables. A little planning by the corporates at the time of ‘project’ allocation will help here. Whether it is about assessing the customer satisfaction of a pilot project or measuring the effectiveness of the recently launched balanced score card initiative, conducted the right way internship is indeed a cost effective consultancy for corporates.

Finally, students have to play a major part. Identifying at least three target companies to work with in their chosen functional area will be a good start. Starting early will prove advantageous. But a popular myth among students needs busting. They feel it is impossible, after internship, to pursue a functional area of specialization that is different from the one chosen during internship.

This leads to unnecessary anxiety driving indecision about their specialization area until weeks before commencement of internship. Students should remember that recruiters look for well-rounded cross-functional experience. Picture a finance major candidate appearing for final placement interview with internship in marketing area reinforced by three mini projects in finance. Won’t it be a unique candidature?

The point is to identify your chosen area of interest and to shortlist companies as early as possible. Next, the target companies have to be closely tracked in business press to identify areas of mutual interest. Then, develop possible internship titles and a 100-word abstract that states your internship research. Managers will appreciate those interns who have not only researched their companies but also identified possible topics of company interest. To promote a competitive spirit, a best internship award can be constituted.

The year is coming to an end. And the premier B-Schools have completed their summer placements. Should the students of other B-Schools not make haste?

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