For eight years now, a kind-of unusual, mutually beneficial summer intern programme has resulted in unexpected dividends for the Company and the participants. To start with, it is a two-in-one exercise. First of, it is a summer internship programme. No great shakes, you might say. But then, it goes on to turn the traditional recruitment process on its head by offering pre-placement permanent opportunities for a select few, based on their performances during the said internship.  Cool, right?

What is this `mutually beneficial’ thingami? Aha! In the traditional modus operandi, the Company feed into the pool of students who figured in the list of those interested in summer internships in the top B schools in the country every year. An interview was held, some fitted the bill, were brought to the Corporate headquarters and everyone mulled over what to do with the interns! 

“We cannot just get them to get the coffee, can we?” 

Not really. Not in a Company that made coffee too! Really!

How many stories have you heard of interns filling their time getting coffee through the day? Or, doing something equally mundane?

So, the MANTRA was born. Eight years to the day. Works for both. Mutually beneficial.  For the 130-year-old, manufacturing and marketing Company that needed contemporary ideas to stay relevant to its consumers and the ideal intern that was picked to work on a project that was ear-marked in advance.

So, now you’re talking. The 8-week program offers each hired intern an Executive Sponsor to guide their projects, with mid-term and end-term project reviews conducted in the presence of the entire senior management of the Company which has benefitted from fresh, new, relevant ideas and adopted contemporary ways of doing business in India.

Box 1:

Garima, (IIM Ahmedabad) “April 4th- The day I first stepped on the 16th floor of One Horizon Centre, I felt like a kid in a candy store. It was so beautiful, so creative, the RGB bottles decoration on the roof, the Taste the feeling visuals, … and the sheer realization that this is it! The first two weeks in Gurgaon passed in a blink. Bangladesh was a whole new ball game altogether. On one of those days, after a market visit, I came back to the office and told Shadab the communication route which was shaping on my mind. To my utter surprise, he liked it and asked me to work more on it. The route got forwarded to Gurgaon office and the advertising agency, and the next thing I know is that I am on a plane to Kolkata to meet the agency with my mentor and Kinley's brand manager. The agency meeting was by far the most memorable thing that happened during my internship. The very fact that the copyrighter was reading out an advertisement script based on the communication route I was thinking about 2 weeks back was surreal!”

Box 2:

Anish Barjatya, (MDI Gurgaon), “This internship has been an adventure for me and definitely a source of envy for my friends! Entering the office on the 1st day, we were greeted with spectacular goodies, a lounge especially created for the interns, a personalized wall picture of each intern, and welcome messages throughout the office. It was incredible to note that all the employees were on the same page in terms of the seriousness shown for the MANTRA Internship program, as it was called. The Company treats its interns just like any other employee and that for me is a big differentiator with other companies.”

Check out some of the unexpected projects undertaken by Mantra interns that the Company took on board:

  1. Use of traditional Indian art and motifs (Warli art and motif) is a mainstream festival campaign, thereby making it relevant for a younger audience – the Diwali campaign of 2010 was executed basis this project by a MANTRA intern.
  2. Social media strategy for a traditional category like dairy, where the Company would launch its first milk-based offering VIO – this project is live and its execution can be seen on VIO’s Facebook page.
  3. Designing gift packs for a newer generation and a younger demography – This was commercialized by the Company in 2015.
  4. Making the Company relevant to the digital and social natives, in a traditional country like Bangladesh – The company will make this strategy live in Q3, 2016.
  5. Create a campaign that joins forces with the local community to help rebuild Nepal and create hope and optimism, in the aftermath of the earthquake of 2015 – The Company launched its award- winning campaign “Pheri Utthe che Nepal” in 2015.