‘It’s only work if somebody makes you do it’

by Nupur Gurbuxani on Sunday 26 August 2012, 4:05 AM | Category: Summer Internship Contest| View: 3083 views
 
 
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‘It's only work if somebody makes you do it'- goes one of the deepest thoughts contemplated by Bill Watterson through the character of ‘Calvin' from the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip.

I understood the essence of this statement during my summer internship this year. Work is ‘work' as long as you are forced to do it- the moment you start loving what you do, and the moment your boss gives you all the freedom to work things out your way, work is really ‘play'. What's more, you begin to look forward to being at your workplace and your performance goes up, you learn more than you would otherwise have learnt and you enjoy your journey through your job. Your job becomes more of a passion and your workplace, your hang-out. Sounds like an ideal life, doesn't it? Well, I'm glad to have had a glimpse of it during my two-month long internship this summer!

My internship story begins as does that of any MBA intern- with the onset of the summer placement season in college. During the placement week all of us look for lucrative offers and great brand names. I was among the crowd- looking for pretty much the same things. Knowing it's easier to get a generic management internship, I had resigned myself to the fact that I would take it up if I got the offer. Somewhere I felt I was compromising on the kind of work that I wanted to do and the experience I wanted during my internship. But the pressure was so immense during that one week that I thought it's better to have something than to crib about the stakes being offered. However, the week resulted in repeated disappointments and I did not have a single offer at the end of it, let alone any other prospects.

‘Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end.' It is strange how this axiom always seems to hold true if we look back at our lives in retrospect. After all the dejection, I began an off campus search for the experiential internship which I wanted from the start. I knew I wanted to give advertising a shot. Another aspect was social entrepreneurship. I applied to both and (quite dramatically) on the last day of internship details submission in our college I had a final offer from Dentsu- a Japanese advertising firm based out of Gurgaon in India.

I must say, I had realized that I was where I wanted to be during my interview itself. As must be common in advertising interviews, I was asked to explain my fun and whacky side. I proceeded by narrating the weirdest stories and moments of my life (quite sceptical if it would make any sense to my interviewers). To my surprise, not only did it seem to make perfect sense but also entertained them.  I gathered from my interview (which was really more of a conversation) that everyone in the team was called ‘boss' by everyone else. It puzzled me at first, but later I understood that it was just another way to reinforce the independence given to every member of the team- a way to establish their creative thinking in every aspect of their work.   

With one thing and another, I looked forward to joining work at Dentsu. On the first Monday of April, I entered the office excited and a little nervous about being able to meet expectations there. The office was colourful and spacious, with one side of the office dedicated to an assortment of tables, chairs and couches where everyone would sit down for brainstorming sessions. The same space was also efficiently utilized to play football, cricket and Frisbee in times of boredom or as stress buster exercises when an ad campaign launch would be hovering round the corner. You could also sit on the bay windows overlooking the city outline from the tenth floor and read a book, take pictures, look at the birds or simply sit and ponder over stuff.

My first day itself was based on experiential learning. I visited stores in Connaught Place (an open shopping enclave in New Delhi) with my colleagues for analysing in-store marketing formats through observational research. I had jotted down my comments on the cell phone and when we sat down at a coffee shop later to collate our findings, I realized how much there was to learn only by seeing things.

I spent a few days learning how the planning department works in advertising. Planning is the brain behind all the concepts that arise for brand positioning/re-positioning and ad campaigns. It is the department where ideation is done and then implemented by the creative design team. I was made to go through quite a few exercises by my mentor to be able to understand the concept behind a planner's job- the expectations, the scope and the devotion required. A planner could be a data analyst, a researcher, an insight miner and what-not as and when required by the scope of the project at hand.

I had worked for a while before joining an MBA program, and it was such a surprise to me to be in an environment where everybody from the national head to the entry level employees and interns would sit and talk together with no ‘power distance' whatsoever. Brainstorming sessions which would start in the conference room, would many a times end in a lunch outing or a coffee break. The idea would always come through though. Fun and work were inter-wined in a complex manner in this advertising firm- so much so that it was best to move with the flow and try not to disentangle the two. Here, the exception was the norm and the norm, the exception.

While revolving around so many other things, the major part of my internship was devoted to completing my internship assignment. I was happy with my project because it involved a lot of reading (that being one of my hobbies). I was fascinated by it because it was to be part of a new concept for the entire Dentsu network. The objective was trend-spotting and the method was content analysis. The abundance of data meant finding method to madness which was a challenging task. I always had the chance to rectify any mistakes I made through discussions with my mentor, consequently having learnt the technique of trend-spotting pretty well.

Marketing before this internship was only a theory in my head. I knew the jargon- but I did not know how all of it could actually be applied in practice. Precisely the jargon of Marketing Communications, I mean. However here, in the Planning Department at Dentsu, I saw how brands were actually being formed, deformed and revitalized, or repositioned according to the client requirements.

I had a fascinating time throughout my internship. Even as I write this here, I know I must be among the lucky few to have loved every bit of my summer internship experience.

Learning- check. Fun- check. Travel-check. New friends- check. Good food-check. Happiness- check. Great experience- check!

What else could anyone ask for, from a two-month long internship? 

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