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Do college internships matter? Ft. Lakshmi R V

Are you worried that your lack of work ex is a hindrance to your MBA dreams? Do you think internships are a waste of time and showcase you as indecisive?

We bring to you Lakshmi R V, who busts this myth. Lakshmi is currently pursuing her MBA from IIM Bangalore. A person of many talents, she has worked as Public Relations Account executive for Communicate India and Synergy Public Relations. She was also an editorial intern at GQ India, a market research intern for Coldwell Banker, HR intern at Laugh Out Loud Ventures and even as a content writer for Food and Wine India Magazine.

Scroll down to read how her experience of interning at multiple fields helped her crack IIM Ahmedabad AND IIM Bangalore!

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One of the biggest dreams a lot of Indians have, is to pursue an MBA from a prestigious IIM. Take that dream further, and it is to get into the holy trinity – IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore and IIM Calcutta. While the vision is beautiful, many get disheartened even before the journey begins due to lack of confidence or the lack of knowledge about your options.

Don’t worry, because I was in your shoes. I went through the exact same things most of the aspirants go through, and I came out successfully from the other end. To understand my story, you must first understand my background. I am a BBA graduate from NMIMS University. I specialised in Finance, but, I worked in the Public Relations industry, a field completely unrelated to my specialisation.

As a CAT aspirant, my biggest fear was that the interviewers would perceive indecisiveness when they look at my resume due to the wide range of industries I worked in, over a short period. I had over four internships in a wide range of sectors like Media, Education Technology and Real Estate. My goal when pursuing these opportunities was to push myself out of my comfort zone. However, I realised very quickly that it could backfire and be detrimental to my MBA admission. However, it was this very range of internships that supposedly portrayed my indecisiveness of my career path or (and) my fickle mind, helped me secure my admission in IIM Bangalore.

The actual work experience I had was only for 10 months, which, according to CAT rules, made me a fresher. It is common knowledge that freshers often find it harder to crack through the journey. The only way you can flip this situation is by doing as many internships as you can through your undergraduate education. Internships are an excellent way for you to explore different industries and job roles. They will help you narrow down what you look for in the future.

For example, I have worked in an HR role as well as in a Market Research role. My 3-month internship in HR made me realise that it was not the path for me. At the same time, my experience in Media made me understand that I had a strong affinity to areas like Marketing and Public Relations.

Internships, therefore, not only help you to decide what to do in life but also answer that all-important “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” question. MBA colleges look for assertiveness and clear headedness during interviews. Showing that you have a clear picture of where you want to be due to experience is perceived to be more decisive than merely stating your career goals with no thought process behind it.

Coaching centres usually advise you to create a story about yourself that describes how you got to this moment in life, when you prepare for interviews.

People with work experience have an edge as they have substantial things to talk about in their life that helps them express their story. For a fresher, this is only possible through internships. Even if they were internships you didn’t like or learnt very little, talking about it in your Statement of Purpose, or your interview allows the panelists to understand where you are coming from and enables you to establish a dialogue with them. I believe that my journey into IIM B happened as these experiences created a space for a vibrant conversation to flow during my interview.

Most importantly, it is vital to be honest and genuine about your life decisions. Even if the decision was a mistake, being upfront about it, shows that you have reflected upon it and you have made better decisions since. For example, my interviewer for IIM Ahmedabad asked me about my confusing career trajectory. I explained my thought process behind pursuing a specific internship on my resume as well as what I learnt from each of the roles. The conversation flowed smoothly because I was open to discussing my missteps. Three months later, I received an admission offer from IIM Ahmedabad.

The moral of my story is simple: Pursue every opportunity you have. Learn as much as you can within and outside of your college. Write your story focusing on the journey and not what you want your end goal to be. Most importantly, be sincere and honest about every experience in your life. Some of my interviews were akin to a therapy session as I learnt new things about myself during it. So go apply to every college possible and give as many random interviews so you know yourself more. Have conversations about your growth and mistakes with the people around you and learn to be assertive about your decisions – good or bad. At the end of the day, we are still young. They do not expect us to make the best decision all the time. They do expect future candidates to be able to learn from their misgivings.

All things said, with classes going on in full speed, I am genuinely grateful for every single one of those decisions I made. It got me to the place I'm meant to B.

To give an insight as to how my life is now, I have to say that IIM B has been one of the most welcoming institutions I've been a part of. The subjects and professors are challenging and intriguing. Despite the Covid-19 crisis and not being able to be on campus, I have managed to make beautiful friendships these last three months, mostly because of the efforts of helpful seniors who are there to guide you through the sometimes rough seas of MBA life. I think I can conclude by saying that it is now that I finally feel like my life has really begun.


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