This article was written by Mridul Gupta of UPES, Dehradun. If you want to share your law school experience or other articles please write to [email protected]
What did I learn while interning with Times of India?
A quick taste of the Corporate World!
Since day one when I stepped into UPES, I am continuously being told about the importance of internships. One of my seniors (who graduated recently) said “for a law student academics are secondary and internship is the thing that has paramount importance”.
Academics can only suggest what a particular rule of Law is, but the actual application of the same is learned while interning at various organizations. I got to learn this lesson pretty quickly on my first internship which I concluded at Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), Allahabad. Keeping in mind the lessons learned and the words of my senior, I applied for an internship at the Times Group – Times of India, Allahabad. This was going to be my second experience as an intern. My CV was duly selected and subsequently I was called at the office. Next, was the face to face interview with the Senior Branch Head (My Lord! I was scared!)
Finally, the day came when I had to face the music! I was called at the office and one of the most important interviews of my life began. Initially, I fumbled, hesitated and stammered as well, this happened in the first 30 seconds or so. After that, I got back to myself and started answering comfortably. The interview lasted around 5-6 minutes. For me, the learning began from this very encounter. The first thing I realized is that the person sitting on the other side of the table is also HUMAN. The person taking the interview is there to test you; he is not going to eat you up.
On 30th of May, I was asked which department I would work in. My options were either the EDITORIAL or the MARKETING department. I hesitantly chose the marketing department, and my faith was sealed! Before I could digest that I am actually selected, I was directed towards a small cabin to go and sit. Few minutes later a person comes to me and tells me or orders rather that I would be working under him. I’ll be taking orders from him and shall be answerable to him only. My day as an acting professional began by drafting a proposal. The proposal was related to asking for sponsorship. On the first day, I drafted multiple proposals and went for a visit to Allahabad Income Tax Office.
From the next day I was ordered to wear formals and was allotted an office (working) shift of 8 hours i.e. 10:00 am to 6:00 pm with one hour break for lunch. (My God! I was living a life of a Pro). It took me a full week to sink into the reality that yes, I could actually be a professional. I was not given any designation as such, but I could be referred to as acting “junior Public Relations officer”. Apart from drafting proposals, my work was to edit the already drafted proposals and assist my head during visits. Visits?
Our work was to go to various important government as well as private offices and build, maintain relations thereof. We used to go to offices asking for advertisements, informing them about new schemes that the company has to offer and sometimes just to ask- HOW ARE YOU, SIR? (Seriously? This also happens in PR?)
For the first week I was given less of work and more of lectures on how the company works, what customers look for and how we could work taking into account the best interest of both the company and the customer. On the 9th or the 10th day, I was given a chance to be a part of the actual meeting that takes place at an office place. The scene was -A room full of worried faces with pens and paper ready to jot down every single point, and waiting for the senior official to come and carry on with the affairs. 10 minutes later a man dressed in a black suit comes in, just like what we are accustomed to watching the films. A gesture was given by him that confirmed that we all could sit, after that we proceeded with the meeting.
After the meeting was concluded, I came out with the information that the area of a standard newspaper is 1727cm sq. and there exists a phrase- “Reverse Pay Mechanism”. During the meeting, I learned that customers are charged on 2 bases: a.) the number of words that he wants get published and b.) The volume of the area their ad occupies. (Man! I am into the Corporate world, where everything is money, money and money. Hearing about the meanness and experiencing the same are two aspects altogether). It can be said that my real work began from the 10th day onwards, from that day I was asked to make presentations instead of proposals. Making presentations has always been my weak point. Though we are made to give presentations regularly in the class but somehow I kept oblivious to the art. I was challenged! The burden was solely on me and I had to deliver, no excuses were to be entertained. Reluctantly, I executed the task, next we had to present the same to a senior official at Nagar Nigam, Allahabad. With shivering legs, I gave the presentation and it went well.
On that very moment, I realized that I have more to offer that I thought I had. Now, my work included proposal drafting; presentation making; visiting various prestigious and important offices which included both government as well as private. I developed a sense of self-confidence which is essential for any lawyer etc. you name it and it is necessary for him. A month passed like this and the person I knew who existed by the name Mridul Gupta had changed dramatically. This was because I had now started enjoying this Corporate World. But, my real test was yet to come.
On the 2nd day of July 2014, I was called into the head office and was given the task of revenue generation (I mean seriously? I am just a normal student, who has just completed his first year as a graduate and I`m given the task of REVENUE GENERATION for Bennett and Coleman co. Ltd. – the real corporate name of Times Group). Luckily, there was a chief manager of a shop who had asked us to plan an event exclusively for their promotion and cover the same. We were asked this during one of our visits while asking for sponsorship. My job was to grab this opportunity with both hands and impress the manager so that he could go nowhere else.
The business is of cloth merchants. The name of the firm is “New Sachdeva Brothers Ltd.”. It is the biggest name in Allahabad when it comes to cloth business. For 3 days I researched, did brainstorming as much as I could and finally came up with the presentation of my life so far. For, the first time I was not nervous while giving the presentation, because I knew my hard work will fetch me the reward I deserved.
I was correct, the manager was impressed and the deal between the parties which concluded was of huge amount, i.e. Rs.1,75,000. I got a lot of praises for my work from either party (I was given a certificate of appreciation from the Business manager). It was the biggest sense of achievement that I ever had in my life. My time as an intern was coming to end when I realized that we are not working for an ad agency but a newspaper company!
Instead of serving better and relevant news to the public we are serving them advertisements. The realization gave me goose bumps! Whenever I used to see the newspaper, I saw more ads than news, more useless page 3 news than what is happening at the parliament and the offices of public importance, the judiciary etc. But, this is who we are – The Corporates, the money makers, it is not our business to do social service. Finally, my time as an intern ended. I visited the office one last time (I said to myself that I would never return here again), thanked everyone there and came back a new and improved individual, a more mature individual who knows what the corporate world is!
At college I was severely criticized for joining the marketing department and not the editorial board- To which I humbly answer- the course I’m enrolled in is integrated BBA LL.B (Hons.) will specialization in corporate law, and before going into the legalities involved in the sector I must have an idea that how this world actually looks like and what would be the consequences if one gets into the world of corporate legality.
To sum it up, I would like to say- I developed immense confidence; learnt how to articulate my words; dynamics of body language and the most important one- an individual can be more capable than what he actually perceives. I might have not learnt a lot of LEGAL ASPECTS of the Corporate world but I leant how one could apply these aspects when he learns the theoretical aspects of law.
Today I am proud that I got an opportunity to learn all this, what the people crave for. On the other hand I keep reminding myself to be humble because the journey has just begun!