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16 Mar 2020

How to combine an internship in a company and studying at GSOM Master program: interview with first-year student of MiM Polina Kireeva

Internships in companies are an opportunity for students to gain experience in solving real business problems in real work conditions. But combining training and internships is difficult. We talked with first-year student of MiM Polina Kireeva, who passed the selection for an internship at Unilever, and found out how the selection for an internship is arranged, whether it is possible to combine Master studies and work in the company, and what main skills she got during the year of intensive study and work.



Why did you decide to work for Unilever?

After Bachelor program graduation, I had work experience in a small company, and I wanted to find out how large international companies work. I chose the Unilever company, because I partially knew the brands owned by the company, and got the idea to learn more about the work of the Sales Department. At that moment, a suitable vacancy appeared on the company's website.


Was it difficult to get an internship? Did you worry that you won’t pass?

I felt confident in the initial stages. But when I left after an interview with managers, I was 100% sure that they would not take me! And the most interesting thing is that it happened at first. However, two months later HR called me and asked if the search for an internship was still relevant for me. Apparently, the managers remembered the interview with me for some reason, so in the end I got into the company as I wanted.


What kind of selection stages did you pass?

There were four stages:

●     tests in English for logic, mathematics, situational;

●     telephone interview with HR manager;

●     test task in Excel;

●     offline interviews with managers.


What tasks are you responsible for in the company?

The tasks are very different. I have a set of everyday duties, not very complicated, such as updating and sending out a sales summary, answering letters, sending out reports on the sale of company new products. But unforeseen circumstances always arise, for example, meetings of regional managers. For these meetings, I need to prepare the region’s sales analytics for various categories, which means analyzing voluminous Excel files with a large number of formulas, pivot tables and waterfalls.

By the way, I remember how, after two weeks at the company, they gave me one such Excel without specific instructions for filling in. I remember how I called and wrote to employees from different regions to find out the details. In general, the company's policy in this regard helps a lot: you can ask any employee a question and quickly get an answer.


How difficult is it to combine internship and study?

It depends on the periods. The most difficult thing is to keep up with everything during the session and the “hot” periods (they occur simultaneously). But everything is quite real. Time management can help.

By the way, there is an opinion that employees of companies from the FMCG sector do not work very much, always leave the office on time and enjoy life. Maybe they enjoy life, but the rest is just a myth! Even as an intern, I sometimes linger in the office or work at home.


What skills have you already gained through your internship?

First of all, stress resistance. My stress resistance before that was at a fairly high level, but after a couple of months of internship, it seems to have become unshakable.

At work, I constantly have to deal with a large flow of information and completely different tasks, therefore, in addition stress resistance, work skills in multitasking and time management develop.

In general, both the first year of study at GSOM and the internship gave me an understanding of what area I want to develop further and what skills I need to concentrate on.


What advice can you give to students who are looking for internship?

To not give up! Solve screening tests, pass as many interviews with HR and managers as possible. At first, it may be a complete failure, but it is an experience. One day this experience will lead you to your cherished goal.