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The Food for Thought – A Marketing SIP

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An informal interview about Summer Internship Project with a junior over a meal

That Friday afternoon, the juniors were in the canteen during their break and so were the seniors. I found myself waiting in line for a coupon and came across a junior and exchanged greetings.


 The inquisitiveness and the enthusiasm of the Juniors’ is commendable keeping in mind the activities they have successfully performed in such a short span.

 Such was the junior with whom I interacted too. We spoke about general lectures and gradually, we moved on to ‘one of the most revered topics’ at B-School: Summer Internship. And so did the chatting, munching and crunching began with one condition: Questions to be answered only if the Tea was sponsored by the Junior!

1.       So what exactly is a Summer Internship?

Seriously?! You think they wouldn’t know that already? You guys are a notch above our batch.

2.       Thanks for the compliment but coming back to the topic, we would love to know what it is all about?

Well, it is the most crucial 2 months of your entire MBA career. Ofcourse before placement begins…To sum it up, the Summers would mean slightly different for the different set of students-Freshers & Experienced.

For Freshers:

It provides the corporate exposure to them. Bridges the huge gap between your theory and practicals what you have been doing so far in your academic career. Also, it serves as a fresh entry point to gain an experience of the way corporate works.

For Experienced Guys:

It would teach you how different your previous work ex is and how an MBA specialization oriented internship is. While, you do have a prior experience in the corporate which is an advantage, it is equally essential to start with a fresh mind as a student on an internship. They (Intern Organizations) hate baggage.

3.       What was your profile, work, role, and which company did you intern for?

I interned with a 2 year old start up-Pentagon Activations Ltd.  My Profile was: Content & Strategy-Brand Activations and my work included designing campaigns for brands.

The company is Pentagon Activations which has specialized into BTL activations and also execute other events, digital campaigns, etc.  A recent successful campaign’s Youtube link to give you a fair idea about the Agency and the BTL Arena:

 4.       Sounds interesting, so what does the Content & Strategy Team in a Brand Activation firm actually work on?

The flow goes like this: Client Servicing team gets the brief from the Client of course-Presents it to us-Content & Strategy ideates a campaign thought-Operations Guys set up the whole event and voila-a campaign is launched on ground.

Our work is dwells into Creativity that builds the campaign and at the same time uses that Management thinking cap about the decisions  like-Right Target Group, Right  Location, Right Time and figuring out various other trends through research.

5.       Hold on…I feel like I’m in a lecture already. Could you elaborate on what is BTL?

(And I feel like I’m in an interview…)

BTL is below the Line promotions: There are mainly 2 types of advertising/promotions. ATL is ur conventional mediums like TV, Print, radio. While BTL is ur activations that u see in malls, trade shows, exhibitions and events, and other innovative campaigns like augmented reality and normally what coke does..its on ground promotions where u actively and innovatively engage the Target Group rather than the passive ads we see on tv, hear on increases the Top-of-mind in it reinstills faith in ur consumer and strikes that emotional cord.

6.       Sounds interesting, so what exactly was your contribution?

I worked with brands like Viacom 18-Colors, Zee Cafe-Lost, Provogue, Godrej to name a few out of the 7-8 brands within the span of 2 months. I designed on ground promotional campaigns for these brands and also got the brief by interacting with clients at their office like Viacom 18 and Provogue for instance.

7.       Well, if I can hear you correctly, this is what they were regularly doing at their work? So you just joined in and contributed to their work?

I’m glad you asked the question. While I was 2 weeks, into the organization, and briefly understood the work and was contributing to it, the director called for a meeting along with my mentor. He gave me a project: Formulate a marketing plan for innovative platform for promotions.  And said the following words: So you continue doing the work we are engaging you with i.e. ideate campaigns but you also have to start working on this project as well. Work undertime, overtime, work from home, work from someone else’s home, but deliver

So, you should be able to and be lucky enough to get your hands on a project that will make a difference to them. That is the key point of learning for me in any internship or work that one undertakes. If there’s little acknowledgement, there’s even little effort and passion. But you got to prove it to them, to give you that extra work.

And i did find myself working from home as well many a times i.e. after work hours.

8.       What were the major challenges that you faced on the Summer Internship?

In the second week, I was asked to make a presentation in front of the entire agency including the directors. Credits to the presentationssiescoms we are loaded with in class. And then we realize that it is that one key factor and competency we develop and helps us wherever we go.

Adapting to the work culture which was way different than my previous experience-Arrive on time, Leave on time was the working style earlier in my previous IT experience, but entirely different here…more “chilled out”

Intense passion at work is what separates these small agencies from large organizations.

New faces, new friends, lucky enough to get a place to sit and work, new coffee all that builds up into an experience which at first will seem to inhibit you but then it will gradually set in.

 9.       Did u ever have the thought of PPO-the pre placement offer in your mind?

Actually, u cant resist that thought..but u cant work with that aim either. Like the thought of marriage proposal by a stranger even before u get start knowing them or get friendly 😉

So do your best at the task at hand and look for opportunities to perform and stand out.

But what I do have the thought of is seeing my project go live. I am still in touch with the agency and contribute whenever required. If all works well, by next year it would be implemented and that is what is the best part.

Any implementation of your idea for an Intern makes you feel that you actually live in the organization and not merely exist, and that acknowledgement gives you wings…

10.   What was that 1 best thing you experienced in your Internship?

The exposure I gained at the relatively small organization as compared to my previous work experience. Try to get a good profile and then the brand. It is all about the work you learn and are exposed to. Pentagon was awesome in those terms, as I sat with almost every colleague and linked their contribution to the entire project. And I have the feeling that your work is noticed faster in such a place than at a Fortune 500 company that you might join  J

There’s a lot of transparency in small organizations which is essential for any student to learn about the business.

11.   Alright, take me through your key learnings?

  • Ideation and conceptualization of Promotional Campaigns.
  • New product development.
  • Brand Activations & Target Group Engagements.
  • The BTL and its significance
  • Significance of Passion in what you do.

 12.   What about the stipend?

If I had to rank them according to its significance in internship:

  1. Internship Profile and Project
  2. Brand
  3. Stipend

But definitely it is a major part and according to me, it should cover your basic expenditure including the travelling costs atleast. And to be honest, it gives you that motivation in the second month. But don’t worry, any stipend amount will be too less as your friends will eventually draw out a budget and plan the treatJ

And the internship is definitely about giving to the company but also the learning you take back is utmost essential. That reminds me, that you have to buy me tea as my paycheck for the interview.

13.   It was wonderful talking to you, but now a dilemma arises in my mind: How do I find the right company and the right profile that I should intern in?

  • That question is an answer in itself-Be Proactive
  • Ask questions to the CIS speakers that come in about the work interns would be exposed to
  • Go through the Project Reports of Seniors and see if you like what they do
  • If you are passionate about research, find out about the senior who got internship into a Research firm and go through his report
  • Talk to peers,, etc.
  • Take your time and take what you want before you get something you are given.

And with that question we were done with our lunch..

Thanks a ton! I hope the informal interview over lunch helps us gaining some insights about the Summer Internship.

Please use the above information at your own risk. Any damage to physical or intellectual property after reading this piece is solely your own responsibility. No Thanks. It was indeed my pleasure. And do your case studies as well. It helps 😉

Disclaimer: The views expressed are that of the author and do not represent the Institute’s view.



   Richard Manickam

   MMS 2012-14


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