Internship experience at Kinder Garden Preschool and Day care by Varun Kumar Srivastava, Indian Institute of Management, Kashipur
“My name is Varun Kumar Srivastava and I was an IT engineer. Yes!!! I was a software developer, working for a minimum of 10-12 hours and if you are not done with it, I have a work experience of around 3.5 years. You want more?? Well, I am a General candidate, Male, Engineer, with decent acads (which is very low compared to the current generation. Yeah, I haven’t scored more than 85% ever in my life, until one day CAT came to my rescue and told me that I may be talented enough to study in an IIM. Though, I am still confused.) Thanks for your sympathies!!!!! ”
I can bet that nobody would have been happier than me when I got a confirmation call from IIM-Kashipur PGP 2013-15  program (Of course exceptions are always there, I beg your pardon). Luckily for me, my CAT percentile was the cut-off for the general category in IIM-Kashipur and since this was the lone IIM call for me, I was in cloud nine when I got a confirmation letter. Being an engineer, I am very sceptic and always alert of hoax calls and emails, therefore I didn’t even bother to tell my parents till the time I made sure that there’s no chance of any kind of public humiliation, and then silently updated my status in facebook.
Everything was going smoothly during the first half of the second trimester when we were made to realise that we are no different from Lancelot, just born in different faces and in different times, and not to mention credit goes to none other than ‘PLACECOM’. I can say with utmost surety that students in PGP program across the country can think to miss the deadlines set by the professor, but they certainly don’t want to mess with the placecom. Very smartly, they didn’t tell us anything about the companies visiting for our summer campus, but they were friendly enough to inform us that  companies will be going to kick us in the interview, and we ‘good for nothing’ students are only going to spoil the name of the college. Interesting part about the placecom is that they seldom tend to forget that they are one of us. God forbid, but I don’t want them to see this column because I am yet to get a final placement, and I completely forgot they have my CV as well.
However, now coming straight to the point for which I am writing this article. Here comes my internship experience.
Failure to get shortlisted in some of the reputed and high paying companies made me realise that it will not be an easy way for me, considering the profile and previous work experience I possessed. So, I thought of applying to only those companies in which I could get sufficient opportunity to learn and enhance my skills. Also since management was altogether a completely new field for me I kept an open mind and persuaded myself to avoid any kind of inclination towards any particular subject for the specialisation. I wanted my internship to do this job for me, so that I could finally decide which specialisation will suit me the best.
Kinder Garden preschool and day-care is a start-up, instituted in the year 2012 by an IIM-Lucknow alumnus Mr. Soumen Das. The job profile which was distributed to us was that of a leadership profile and it required to prepare a marketing strategy and business development to enhance the expansion specifically in the north-eastern region. After thoroughly scanning the job profile and the background of the company I decided to apply and fortunately I was shortlisted for the interview round. It was pretty much a formal conversation where they wanted to know about us and our interest towards this opportunity. It was around 15minutes of interview where they started with some basic info about us, marketing opportunities for a preschool, relevance of my work-ex for their organization etc. It was the month of October in which our interview took place and Kinder Garden was the first company I got an opportunity to give an interview. After converting this interview, I was looking forward to be at ease for the next six months before the internship will start. Along with me three of my batch mates were also selected in the final round- Ajeet, Mona and Neelakshi. It was quite a diverse team consisting of equal ratio of boys and girls from different background, but here comes the twist, Ajeet was allocated Bhubaneshwar as his joining location and I was sent alone with two girls to Guwahati. Now believe me when I say, it is not an easy task for a guy to be in a minority, particularly in India, but I must say it was definitely a blessing in disguise for me. It was a completely a new experience and learning for me. It’s very hard to say but I think I became more responsible. “I learned COOKING”.
Our team during the internship- It was an amazing experience

Now, I had an opportunity to explore much of the northern and southern parts of India, thanks to the concentration of IT industries in these areas, and was really looking forward to explore the eastern part of India. Being a North Indian, the mental image which we have in our mind of North-Eastern part of India is that of a lush green environment in the lap of Mother Nature. And here I was fooled again. We were posted to Guwahati, which turned out to be the most commercial city of eastern India. This was a big blow for a person like me who is so fond of nature. However, it wasn’t so bad. After all, when we reached Guwahati in the month of April, the holy festival of ‘Bihu’, the biggest festival of Assam was just about to start.

Anyways, as soon as we reached Guwahati, our mentor and founder of the company Mr. Soumen Das, a very young person in his initial thirties, was waiting for us in his Innova. We had a delicious dinner; yes you are free to imagine how delicious it would have been for a vegetarian guy to have a dinner in a non-vegetarian restaurant with all the hard core non-vegetarians. Finally, we were shown our rooms which were in the school itself, that was supposed to be inaugurated in a months’ time. Please don’t be judgemental about the rooms in the school; it was actually quite a big room with all the basic amenities. And I was very happy with the fact that Mona and Neelakshi were also given the adjacent room for the time being, before they will be sent to girls’ hostel. No gender biased discrimination. Everything was turning out to be a completely new experience for me and I was really looking forward to the first day of our internship.
Next morning, we were all ready early in the morning by 8:00 to get on with our work. Our mentor reached well on time by 8:15 in the morning as he had told us earlier and took us out for a breakfast, the objective of which was to minimize the power distance and to make us comfortable. He was very cordial and started to inform us about the company and his background. He already had a plan for us and we spent almost two days on the induction program, which consisted of the history and idea for being in this novel business. We were made aware of the school’s curriculum, organization structure, functioning, the immediate expansion plans and what the company is expecting from us. We were encouraged to freely use our imagination and as a matter of fact, he explicitly told us that being an IIM graduate, he had high expectations from us and expects some major deliverables at the end of two months. Being from an IIM fraternity, he was quite friendly to us than our subordinates and was easily approachable for any kind of issues. Eventually, it turned out that my subordinates were two beautiful girls from Guwahati, and much to my chagrin Mona and Neelakshi were already giving me a wicked smile. I was really mesmerised by God’s plan. Thank you Papaji !!!
After our induction plan was over, we immediately started to plan for the launch of two schools at two different locations in Assam. One was in Guwahati, where we were residing and other was in Hojai, a small town in Assam, around 3-4hr drive from Guwahati. We were provided with the earlier versions of the brochures, invitation cards and the marketing plan that was used up till now and were asked to add some novelty to them as well as improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the existing process. Since Kinder Garden was basically dealing in the budgeted segment catering to the middle income class we were required to plan accordingly in a cost effective way.
Myself and Neelakshi were responsible for the marketing part of the company while our other friend Mona, was handling the operations for the company. The company had already acquired a designer in the company who was also responsible for same basic day to day functioning of the organization, was asked to report to us. We started to suggest some basic changes in the designs and came up with the idea of a three page brochure covering all the necessary details such as courses offered, activities etc. in response to the competitors. At the end of the day, we regularly updated about the status of our task. Being a new office, there were some infrastructure, power and internet issues which our mentor was well aware of.
Due to huge corruption at the state offices of Guwahati, it took us more than a month for us to get a broadband connection in our office. However, we continued to stick to the tasks assigned to us. During the last week of April, centre at Hojai was inaugurated and the marketing was done as per our plan. The billboards and hoardings were placed strategically at common market area where the footfalls were quite high while invitation cards and pamphlets were distributed for a wider reach. We also designed a generic program plan for inauguration event of a centre in future, which ensured the involvement of both the children and their parents. The admission process started from the next day at the centre and within two days of the inauguration around 4-5 registrations were confirmed. There were a total of around 20 students after one month of inauguration.
Soon after the Hojai centre was inaugurated, our mentor went to Silchar to inspect the operations accompanied by Mona. He assigned me and Neelakshi  the responsibility of inaugurating the Guwahati centre in a week’s time. It was a big task for us and we didn’t want to jeopardize this opportunity. Right from designing the walls of the classroom, fixing the billboards at various strategic locations, printing the invitation cards etc. in a weeks’ time -all was left for us. The situation was aggravated by the unpleasant weather in Guwahati. It took me around 2 days and 7-8 hours per day just to direct the workers to put 100 billboards and 100 no-parking boards at various locations. However, within a week’ time we able to successfully inaugurate the centre without any hassles.
In the month of May, after both the centres were successfully inaugurated, we focused on tie-ups with various formal schools as well as aunty schools, while generating leads for the prospective franchises. After preparing a business proposal, we made a plan to visit several locations and explore the opportunities in the market. The major issue which we faced was that most of the formal schools were central or state government schools which either were having their own preschool or their policy doesn’t allow them to open a new preschool. When we paid a visit to various aunty schools we realised that most of them didn’t want to indulge in a tie-up because they were already doing quite well in their particular location and didn’t have any plan to expand their business. Aunty schools were basically a part time venture for most of the owners. However, we were still able to convince one formal school and one aunty school to get involved in a tie-up with us within 15 days of the start of this assignment. As a matter of fact we signed an agreement with them during the last day of my internship i.e. 31st May 2014. This was our major accomplishment during our internship and our mentor was very satisfied with our performance.
During the second last day of our internship, we were required to prepare a report and a ppt for presentation. We summarised the initiatives taken and listed down various tasks accomplished during our internship. It all went as per plan, however, we both agreed that our productivity could have been more if there weren’t infrastructure glitches. I must say that it was indeed a good learning experience for me especially the part where you get to directly interact with your clients to convince them to show interest in your business plan. It gave me an important understanding that you need to cut the chase and come directly to the business within the first two or three statements, failing which you drastically reduce the probability of getting attention from the client.
My suggestion to the upcoming MBA aspirants is that avoid being judgemental and don’t go around with preconceived notions in your minds. Make full use of every opportunity present in your way, you never know what it unfolds for you in the near future.

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