Editor’s note: Here is an example of a summer internship experience gone wrong. The author of this article is a second-year MBA student of a well-known b-school but would like to keep his identity and the company he interned at confidential. We request those among you who know or discover his identity to respect his privacy and not reveal it in the article comments. This is one of the articles we selected from the PaGaLGuY Summer Internships Writing Contest entries. We are selecting only those which narrate very real and eye-opening accounts previously unheard in the ballyhoo surrounding the glamour of the MBA degree. The authors prize is on its way!.
Investment Banking with a twenty five thousand rupees stipend. These two reasons were enough for me to apply for a summer internship with Dumbulent Business Solutions Ltd (name changed).
There were about 70 of us from a batch of about 180 who had applied for the internship with Dumbulent, of which 13 finally made it. It was like a dream come true and most of us had made fabulous plans about what we would do with the internship stipend. I personally planned to take a vacation to Ladakh using the stipend.
The day the internship started, we faced our first bolt from the blue. We were asked to call up different companies from day-1 itself and ask for an appointment, even though we did not even know why were we doing this and what exactly the business of DBS was. We were petrified by this glorified call centre job, but we didnt complain much as the twenty-five thousand stipend was good enough to keep us happy and motivated.
Soon, we learned that the stipend would be paid only if we are able to get a client on board and DBS received the project completion money. Average time of completing the project: six months to one year. Dejected, as we were, there was still hope that we would be paid something (read at least Rs 10,000) for our efforts. Hence, we started working on the projects that the company already had.
One of the projects was about arranging funds for a regional FMCG company that wanted to expand its business. The FMCG firm had already exhausted its credit limits at all the banks and the revenue was not enough to meet the interest expenses. A valuation exercise done on the firm yielded such poor results that I suggested to DBS that the project was not feasible and we must not waste our time working on it. Even if we are able to execute the project, we would lose our reputation as a firm.
The Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of the firm however had a different view. He said, “We cant do that, so try and see if the valuation of the firm can be improved. ” He actually made us rework our calculations for the firm to show a 70% growth rate when the average growth rate in the industry had been close to 12%.
DBS had no policies or practices in place. We still have a lot of clients’ confidential data in our pen drives and hard disks. There wasn’t such a thing as a work culture. On one instance, there was no power in the office and we had to wait in the heat (April in Ahmedabad is hot!) and we werent allowed to leave even though we couldnt work unless the power was back.
DBS also tried to get consulting work done for free from the faculty of various b-schools through us. They asked us to approach our faculty and seek help about the company’s problems. They had even asked us to harvest contacts from our faculty which would help them to increase their business. We escaped this task by making the excuse that the faculty was on leave and unreachable. Frustrated with the poor working conditions and the uncertainty associated with our stipend, we finally decided to stop working. The firm remained unfettered. They knew that we werent working but still they made it a point to see that we were there each day (Saturdays included) from 9 am to 6:30 pm.
A few more interesting facts about the company and the CMD. The firm has a corporate profile including a list of clients. Upon inquiry, we discovered that the list was fake and those firms werent clients of DBS. Also, the CMDs qualifications in the companys corporate profile said that he was an MBA in Finance whereas his LinkedIn profile mentioned that he was an MBA in Marketing from a not-so-reputed b-school in Ahmedabad. The Assistant Vice President of the firm was a fulltime MBA student at the same not-so-reputed b-school in Ahmedabad. The firm had just one full time analyst and got most of its work done through interns who obviously werent paid.
Looking back, the internship experience turned out to be a sham, and I feel exploited at the end of the summer internship.
So, some advice to all those of you who are in your first year and would soon appear for summer placement interviews. If you come across an investment banking start-up in Ahmedabad which promises to pay a good stipend, beware!
The Author is a second year MBA (Finance) student of a well known b-school. Before starting his MBA, he worked at Goldman Sachs Services Pvt Ltd. He is interested in the areas of finance and advertising, is a technology enthusiast and a voracious reader.