Summer at IIM Ahmedabad: How I landed an Internship!
Final year undergrad life at a college like NIT Trichy is the life to live for; you can do many things; give back to the college, conduct events, head some clubs, connect with people and look around you for once. All the time in the world is yours! But for 2021 graduates like me, relaxed was a whole new definition. Sitting at home, trying our best to get our motivation high and feel connected to college through our laptops and phones, is what takes most of our time. While I was busy trying to figure out my future during this pandemic, I realized a lot of people out there would be aspiring for opportunities I underemphasize on my resume. While you might not even be looking for a Summer at IIMA, I hope this episode of my life does turn out to be a little insightful.
You realize your life was a lie when you choose a Major in Chemical engineering after being told it has nothing to do with Chemistry. For most of the time into the course, I was in denial because even if it was something which I did not like studying, I did not want my grades to drop, reflecting my disinterest. And I have not regretted once pushing myself harder just for an S or A in subjects. Your grades talk a lot about you, even if you apply to a B-School in the future. And that’d be one thing to look out for if you’re just a fresher at college. If you aren’t and you already have a set of subjects you feel like you could’ve done better, that’s alright because though a 9 point may look attractive, just the number cannot fill your resume.
So, if you’ve already come to the realization by your second year that what you chose does not suit you, there are a myriad of opportunities out there. And when that strikes, be sure to follow alternate opportunities and get the best out of them. That’s when I thought, like all my friends, I’ll have to give IIMs a try. An internship at a B-school brings out a lot in you, gives you a new perspective, and gives you an upgraded exposure to grad school life. Whatever you pursue in the future, it is something that stays in your resume and adds value.
How should you apply?
For a professor who checks emails between their classes and finds a request for an Internship, your mere curiosity is enough to make a great impression. A neat and formal Resume without a lot of accessories would do great. Your cover letter is usually the highlight since, In 3 paragraphs, you can convey why you want to work under XYZ professor, why he/she/they should select you, and why this internship is essential for you. When you say you are the right candidate for the position, you need not portray that you’re great at everything you’ve done in the past but that; when you commit to something, you give your full to it. Also, talk about some situations/instances on how you discovered your interests in Management Schools and what learning/reading you have done towards that interest.
My friends and I, while hunting for internships, went through numerous IIM Profs’ profiles, read through their published research papers, ongoing projects, and drafted over 100+ customized mails just to make sure even at a worst case of a 5% acceptance, we have choices to choose from and land a good internship in projects that honestly interest us. We also made sure the mail subject conveyed that we were looking to learn and not necessarily looking for an ‘internship’. Not sure if that’s termed a clickbait but it did work. I started mailing by early Jan, scheduled a number of 4–5 mails to send out at 8 AM every morning on the previous day before going to sleep. What I had observed is that most professors prefer to check their emails in the morning, whereas some later in the afternoon. Choose a time accordingly and be sure to have a mail tracker so you have some idea of who has checked and who hasn’t so you can send reminders post a two week’s time.
I remember sending out around five mails on the first of January to professors at IIMA under various branches, later send out a reminder mail for the same mails towards the beginning of February. And, one of these reminder emails received a reply with acceptance by March. A paid internship at IIM Ahmedabad and an opportunity to visit the campus! (which was pretty huge for a 19-year-old then). The whole mailing timeline sounds slow, and a lot of it depends upon luck, sadly. Even if you do not get any sort of acceptance, this whole grind will give you a lot of learning on how you’ll be applying to colleges later for your higher studies or jobs after graduation! I have observed people who had little to no experience in the English language or in composing formal mails get a good exposure on how to draft one with good vocabulary, attach an impressive resume, and later go on to making mind-blowing SOPs, essays in their final year for applications to grad schools abroad.
That being said, wherever you land an internship in your early undergrad life, it’ll be a big achievement for the student in you. It’ll be your first exposure to the big world out there.
IIMA taught me a lot of things. I lived in a single student dorm room with an attached washroom and even room service, a big upgrade from my shared hostel room in college with a common washroom. I happen to find joy in looking for aesthetic things around me, and the campus always left me in awe. Even if you do not land an internship or are not an architecture student visiting the IIMA campus for study, I’d say take a tour of the campus if you happen to be in Gujarat; it is simply beautiful. The library was a whole world within itself; I usually spent all my day working in the library. I had a spot too, where I could look outside to the view of the IIMA entrance while I was staring away from my laptop. Typing it all out now simply makes me say, oh man, I miss it.
It wasn’t all good; every experience comes with some challenges. Even if you do face some bitter experiences while you explore early in your student life, it works best to consider it as an opportunity to experience things out of your comfort zone. I had little to no company in Ahmedabad; there were only a few students on campus; most times, I hung out alone and thought of random things while staring at Grad students play football on the grounds. I also had to search for a PG room in the city midway during my internship, and Ahmedabad did give me one or two bitter experiences while hunting for it. I started my internship during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, where we had to fast and do without food and drinks from dawn till dusk. I remember it was demanding with the 40 degrees weather, but it did give me a sense of pride in exploring early independence in life.
The summer of 2019 was my first chapter into discovering the opportunities life had in store for me. I hope more chapters with a lot of stories to tell are on your way too. Hoping you had a good time reading, Cheers!
-With love, Maha