The internship at ICICI Bank came with many extended meanings of life, says Pragya Bang, IIM Indore (PGP Mumbai)

Internship experience at ICICI Bank by Pragya Bang, IIM Indore (PGP Mumbai)
Google defines internship as a temporary position with an emphasis on on-the-job training rather than merely employment.

True, but that wasn’t all for me. April 8, 2014 – May 30, 2104 were days that I call my shooting for a movie called, My Life to Come. When the news came that I was selected as summer intern 2014 at the prestigious ICICI Bank, Bandra Kurla Complex (the corporate headquarters), my elation knew no bounds and for some time I couldn’t even believe it.

A snapshot:
I knew that an internship at ICICI Bank is famously known as the ‘roller coaster in a grinder‘, what I didn’t know was that these two months were about to take me through extreme enthusiasm, shocks, fear, anxiety, an exposure to the India’s most celebrated bank’s working methods, a sickness that won’t let me sit for a week, a physical pain like never before, a journey of self-discovery, success, lauds at the final presentation and a confidence like never before.
The beginning:
Like everyone, I too forwarded my CV, but had never expected to get a real call for this prestigious internship. But somehow, one day, the HR in charge of summer internships called me up, and broke the news that I was selected. After a minute’s silence, I could barely utter ‘Oh! thank you.’ She almost broke into laughter.
Then in a few days arrived my project outline. And it was the first shock. I had a background of Electronics and Communication Engineering and had given preference for a marketing project, but I was allotted a project to study online banking platform of ICICI Bank vis-a-vis its competitors from the perspective of online security and convenience. Competitor Analysis meant it had to do with marketing, but as for cyber security, I was clueless, which was natural since I had never even done an ATM transaction ever before. I didn’t have a choice but to pull up my socks.
Days of my life! – April 8, 2014 to May 30, 2014:
An extremely well structured orientation programme that went on for two days gave a good idea of what ICICI Bank stood for and their expectations from us. When on 10th of April, I met my company guide at BKC office, he amicably discussed project deliverables and we went to meet with my main guide who was the national head for the department. Struck with their humility, I was at my peaks of enthusiasm to work for this bank.
My task:
I was supposed to do a comprehensive study of ICICI Bank’s online platform vis-a-vis its seven competitors. We chose to include India’s leading private banks, large public sector banks, MNC banks and even co-operative bank to make the list as exhaustive as possible. It was to be followed by key recommendations for ICICI Bank that were to be implemented in reality.
The Method:
Studying retail internet banking for a person like me who had never done a single transaction online was daunting. But any ways, I started under the guidance of my company guide to whom I reported every alternate day with a progress report.
I started by opening multiple accounts in various banks and started from scratch by doing small online transactions. While we discussed parameters necessary to do bench-marking, my guide and I discussed topics like budgets, financial crime, fraud prevention, sales of financial products and life. I interacted with many employees at both BKC and Chandivali offices, and some of those interactions will remain with me forever as learnings and lessons. Meanwhile, owing to high humidity in Mumbai and daily three hours of travel by local trains, made me fall prey to a huge and painful boil injury. I was soon on four strong painkillers a day and yet couldn’t sit down without screaming with pain. My guide advised me to go for a rest break, but I chose to finish a small survey by the time I could be once again comfortably sitting in my office chair. I had a degree of fortitude that even I didn’t know, this internship deserves the credit for taking me through a journey of self-discovery. By the end, I had come up with a list of 45 controls used in online banking, a survey report for all the banks and a website layout analysis for all eight banks. The final report in its shortest version had around forty five pages. This was the shock of my life, I never believed I could do it !!
The final presentation:
I was asked to wait for my turn in a room at the ninth floor that was so posh that it left me gazing with eyes wide open. I had only a small presentation of six odd slides to make, a summary of forty six pages of findings and recommendations. In spite of having won an umpteen number of awards in debating, the thought of facing evaluation panel that comprised some very senior employees of ICICI bank and my guide made me jittery, but I never had to look back once I started speaking. Here’s is what happened:
-My laptop couldn’t be connected to the projector, I was the odd one to present on the laptop itself in a small conference room in front of four very senior officers, who were mostly National Heads of their departments. I had all reasons to be nervous but I was brimming with confidence. Couldn’t expect this from myself.
-I was allotted a 30 min slot to finish (like all others) along with question answers, the panel went on to ask others to wait while we took 1 hour 45 minutes to finish the thorough discussion.
-The panel wasn’t only impressed with the comprehensiveness of the analysis and my prompt response to their questions, but also lauded me for good communication skills.
-My guide sat smiling all the way, priding one me.
-Here was a girl, who had never done a single online transaction, who now stood answering questions on technical aspects like SSL coding, on website layout analysis from a psychological perspective, on eight different banks studied on more than fifty parameters, on quantitative analysis of convenience and security score.
-I ended by even advising the panel on methods of retail banking that had best trade-offs between security and convenience, which they appreciated.
-Outside the room, one of the female panellists congratulated me for a performance that was not common according to her. Her words were, “We exceeded the time, but it was worth. A very interesting research. Good luck.”
The journey of self-discovery:
These words have remained with me, who says we can do only certain things and not others. I went on to discover my own self during this internship. I know by now, there is absolutely nothing that we can’t do, the only hurdles are our own fears, I chose to throw them away on day-1 and by the last day, I really championed the art of beating my own fears with perseverance. Probably that is the sole purpose of an internship, taking you through a professional life’s snapshot, for me it came with many extended meanings of life.

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