Nothing made sense.
It was a fairly pleasant afternoon when I made my way to the old campus of IIM Ahmedabad. Few anxious weeks of mailing* were put behind and I already felt a sense of satisfaction when I was greeted by the marvellous architecture of Louis Kahn. The geometries were imbued with perfection, yet the whole place seemed more complicated than it should be. It was almost as if you had to figure out the place before you began to figure out solutions to business problems.
A short rendezvous with my professor helped me chalk out the goals I had to achieve through my Marketing cum Strategy based project. The whole of the first week was spent on exploring everything that the institute had to offer; an enormous amount of time was also spent collecting data which was to be analyzed for the remaining three weeks.
My project was based on – “The Major Determinants and Trends of Advertising Expenditure of Companies on Television Networks”. To begin with, I had to obtain data from various proprietary databases like – reports of consulting and auditing firms, WARC, annual reports of companies in various sectors, marketing journals etc. I made use of several datasets from databases like Compustat, CMIE, Euromonitor and more. Then, I had to analyze the data which was an onerous task as it involved a lot of reading and researching to determine underlying trends. Next was the development of hypotheses for which I spent a considerable amount of time learning how to extract the ‘not so obvious’ implications of data (To do so, I had to read several books related to management consulting and strategic marketing). Finally with all hypotheses developed and inferences obtained, I prepared a report and a presentation highlighting my findings and conclusions.
Typically, my day began at 9 am with the amazing breakfast served at the mess of IIM A (Tip: If you do an internship at IIM, make sure you have food at their mess – you’ll love it!). Next, I used to head to the renowned Vikram Sarabhai Library to spend a good amount of time researching and analyzing data using the tools available there. By 2pm, I was back again in the mess gorging on the delectable food which I’d been dreaming about for the past half-hour (no kidding! It was that good). Next, I either made my way to the room I was staying at, to catch a quick nap or I continued working at the library. Evenings were mostly spent exploring the edges of Louis Kahn’s marvel and relaxing in the gorgeous lawns. After a fulfilling dinner, I generally headed back to my room to do some more work and plan out the things I needed to get done the next day.
I had weekly reviews of progress where I was assessed and scrutinized about the work I’d done in the past week. Presumably, they were nerve-wracking and the first one I had was definitely an eye-opener. Having felt that I’d done more than what was expected going into my first-week review, I was taken aback when the professor told me that he could get the same amount of work done in an hour. The professor guided me on how to do the work instead of the technicalities and my next few days were spent learning how to work instead of analyzing data and developing hypotheses. This was one of the biggest takeaways from my internship experience.
Every once in a while I’d encounter these architects who’d come to the campus to admire the buildings and take hundreds of pictures and I’d think to myself – “Why are they so fascinated by this? They are architects and they’d have surely seen better buildings than these.” Figuring out the old campus was a bit complicated in the beginning but towards the end of my internship I knew my way around each and every corner and the oblique entrances finally felt much more welcoming. The exhibition of history in the subterranean tunnel connecting the old campus and new campus finally offered me what I didn’t understand about Louis Kahn’s architecture.
It all made sense.
*How I landed the Internship:
In the beginning of my third semester, I had decided that I wanted to explore management related internship opportunities and doing an internship at any of the IIMs seemed like the best option. I drafted a cover letter expressing my interest towards management along with an attached resume. I sorted out professors from IIM A, B, and C based on the field I wanted to work in and began mailing them in early October. It is important to draft a cover letter which speaks strongly about your interests and how you’ve worked towards it.
The time it takes to get a response is unpredictable and hence it’s necessary to be patient here and send follow-up emails accordingly – one of the responses I received was just a week later whereas I received a few other responses 3 to 4 weeks after sending the first email. Telephonic interviews were conducted by a few professors to further assess my interests and competence. However, the professor I interned under had directly accepted my application after which administrative formalities were completed. The most crucial aspect of the application would be the cover letter – the cover letter must be personalized for every professor by taking interest in and reading about his/her projects and research papers and mentioning them in the mail accordingly.