A report evaluates your experiences

internship

It is that time of the year when postgraduate students gear up to join companies as interns for a stint of two to three months. While interning at a company provides business postgraduate students with an opportunity to get exposure to the work environment, a significant part of this internship is to prepare a project report at the end based on your work during the period. 

Unfortunately, not many projects comply with professional or international standards as they are over-descriptive, lack focus, void of logical sequence, woefully academic and hardly fulfil the industry needs.

One of the reasons for such dismal and deplorable quality of project reports is said to be bookish inputs and too generic guidelines provided by academicians who lack industry exposure.

Here are a few pitfalls that are found commonly in project reports and suggestions to avoid them.

Selection of a topic

Students often select common, vague and general topics from overdone subjects. It is better to consult the supervisor before finalising a topic. They would have probably thought of a need-based topic to be allotted to you. If not, select the subject related to your core competence and expertise. 

Look into industry-specific issues that are significant and unique. Focus on the business problem that can be investigated in-depth. Check empirical studies conducted earlier on similar issues to get a better idea.

Do not try to resolve diverse issues in one project. Instead, focus on one important industry challenge and analyse major contributing factors to the problem and come out with workable solutions.

Problem statement

Students should be specific, concise and clear when presenting problem statements so that the common reader can comprehend the issues involved. They should to be realistic about the scope and the scale of the project and check whether it is within their ability to tackle. 

Students need to find unique and unresolved questions that make their report stand-out and reflect their academic achievement and excellence. The title of the report should be brief, interesting, evocative and should not presuppose cause and effects.

Students list three to four main objectives and about 10 sub-objectives connected with the topic and must self-evaluate to check whether they have achieved their aim.

Regarding the abstract, students should not overemphasise on a particular aspect but provide various dimensions, methodology, significance and relevance of the problem with suitable recommendations in a concise manner.

The introduction should include reasons for the choice of topic, contextualisation, methodology and structure of the project.

Students should consider recent related studies while doing a literature review. Students must not plagiarise any content from other sources as it may spoil the reputation of the research. Avoid overuse of quotes in the text.

Literature Review helps one compare, contrast, summarise, logically argue and critically evaluate the earlier findings. This adds value and helps demonstrate students’ conceptual knowledge, skills and expertise while providing fresh insights to the previously recommended inadequate solutions.

Students can use Research Methodology and Design as a means to collect and interpret data and defend their topic by explaining the various methods they have used appropriately to their findings. They can also present their findings through charts and tables when data is in the form of a participant’s comments.

They should link their findings and analysis to the main aims and objectives and make extensive use of statistical tools. In this section, they should critically evaluate the findings, interpret data and information and explain the implications. Also, students should not forget to mention the relevant limitations of their findings.

Internees should integrate theories, concepts and evidence that they have found in the workplace. One should develop complex arguments lucidly and persuasively.
It is better to limit their discussion to a handful of the most important points. Also, they should ensure that their questionnaire is well-drafted, relevant, manageable, substantial, original, fit for assessment, clear, simple and interesting.

Recommendations

Recommendations should not be cursory and brief, like increase operational efficiency, cut unnecessary expenditure and motivate staff and so on. Instead, provide a road map for implementation of the suggestion along with an action plan. They should analyse the Pros and Cons of the recommendation and conduct a cost-benefit analysis in the report while also describing and quantifying explicit benefits. It is advisable to check and mention the economic, technical and financial feasibility in the report.

The students should predict the probable outcome and limitations thereof, and introduce novel strategic and financial models, or modify the existing models.

Conclusions and limitations

Students should not conclude beyond the data collected and the scope of the study as the conclusions must be substantiative. They need to take limitations such as time constraint, non-availability of data, etc., to their advantage to produce a report as companies acknowledge the potential of a candidate under such conditions and assume that he or she is ready to face challenges. 

Work closely with your supervisor to build a good report, which makes an impact on the existing body of knowledge in the field.

The report should hold evidence of a comprehensive understanding of the issues, critical and insightful analysis of alternative approaches and outstanding ability to synthesise information and demonstrate internal and intellectual congruence. It should be intelligible, interesting and engaging to any reader.

Overall, you must demonstrate in your final report, depth, not breadth; reasoning not description; and synthesis of ideas and concepts and not merely a summary.

(The author is financial advisor, Investment Banking)

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