Learn to convert Internship into a “Pre-Placement Offer/PPO” or a Training period into a “Permanent Employment”
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So you are done with the summer placement process, & got an internship offer at a prestigious company!
Now what? Don’t you want to convert your internship into a PPO!
Getting a PPO is easier said than done. It’s not just the skill set but also the right strategy which will help you win the PPO.
Why should you listen to me? Watch the video
I got PPO and Rs 1 lakh cash prize. Having worked in the industry as Mechanical Executive and HR manager for years, I have being on both sides of the table.
Hello everyone, I Am Sunny Agrawal. I am the founder of thinkers and Fillers, where we share knowledge and secrets with young professionals to accelerate their career and life. I am giving away my secrets on: “How to crack a PPO”. Whether you are an engineer or an MBA student, the philosophy and the guiding principle remains the same for all students doing intern.
In the year 2012 as an MBA Student, I represented IMI Delhi, to do my summer internship in CEAT Tyre’s HR department. I was assigned a project on designing an Induction handbook.
Let me be very frank. I thought with this topic nothing great can be done. Trust me guys, it’s not just about the project topic. It’s not even about the excuses like “It’s just a random process” or like “My mentor didn’t give me much time”. Yes, there are uncontrollable external factors, but with the right attitude and strategy, you can get the best out of your summers, and a PPO is just a natural closure.
So what’s the biggest challenge of the internship? The biggest worry of two months of your journey?
The final presentation in front of the evaluators.
Yes, it’s the presentation. Having worked in the industry for almost 10 years, I have myself been an evaluator several times. And also validated my assumptions and decoded the secrets to crack PPO. You will be evaluated on parameters other than technical knowledge. But I have rarely seen students sharing evidence of these skills and crack PPO without any debate. They only speak of their solutions and suggestions.
Your final presentation should be the summary of your 2 months of the journey and not just a few weeks of the project. Hence, it should summarise few questions in just 10 slides of the presentation. Yes, you heard me correctly, only 10 slides.
- What are your core capabilities and competencies?
- What tools and methodology have you used to do research? Not just “what” rather “why” and “how” of your work?
- Have you worked as a team player or just individually?
- What personal values you will bring to the company if you are hired?
- Will people be ready to work with you if you got hired?
If these are included in the presentation, then evaluators wouldn’t have anything to ask.
Let’s break this discussion in 2 parts:
Part 1: Where I will be sharing with you how to make a PPO presentation and what you need to speak. This will help you to do reverse engineering and plan your 2 months accordingly.
Part 2: Where I will be sharing some behavioural cheat codes and tips with glimpses of my internship journey
Ready? Don’t worry about taking notes or screenshots. The transcript and the presentation are available on my website. Please find the link below in the description. Just relax and enjoy it.
Part1: Decoding a PPO Presentation
You might have done lots of research and must be having lots of suggestions for the project. But you can’t share all in a 15 minutes presentation. Apart from this, you need to demonstrate your leadership skills also.
So, how can we strategise and make the best of it?
Let’s connect the dots by decoding a PPO presentation. This is how your 10 slides would look like.
- Slide 1: Project Summary
- Slide 2: Reason for improvement
- Slide 3: Current situation
- Slide 4: Analysis
- Slide 5: Counter measures
- Slide 6: Result check
- Slide 7: Standardisation
- Slide 8: Future plan
- Slide 9: Learning
- Slide 10: Feedback and thank you
Let know more about each one by one.
Slide 1: Project Summary
Don’t use a Welcome slide with just your name and project title on it. Evaluators probably know it from the assessment sheet. Instead, use the Project Summary Slide.
Tell me one thing. What we do before buying a book? We first read the details written of the front and the back to establish a connection with the author. Then only we flip the pages and start looking for something specific. With the summary slide, let the evaluators anticipate about the project for a while.
- There is usually a delay of 3-4 minutes before you speak the first word. Some evaluators are replying to an important message or having a final word about the presenter who was in the room before you. This is where the summary sheet plays a key role. Meanwhile, everyone gets settled, the audience can have a holistic view of your project.
- A well-crafted problem statement with justification. Project goal and Scope. Key members like the sponsor, facilitator and crucial people who supported the projects.
- Share the timeline and the way you have planned the whole project. This can serve as an index for the presentation too.
I personally feel there is no better way to start the show. A lot has been said without uttering a single word. It projects you as a visionary and compassionate leader. What else you need to get people charged for the next 15 minutes.
Slide2: Reason for Improvement
Just because the project has been assigned to you can’t be a valid reason. They want to know why this is a problem from your perspective? And have you truly understood the business or not.
3 essential things to be kept in mind.
- Identify the specific pain area. One which will have an impact on the customer, an unfavourable situation in need of improvements. You need to clearly communicate that the need is coming from fact and not from some biased or fictional source. You can use Theme Selection Matrix, Brainstorming, Multiple choice questionnaire or any suitable method to arrive at the reason for improvement.
- Define parameters and indicators for measurement. You need to speak the business language which they listen to every day. Doing this will help you evaluate the impact of the project at the end. In case there is no quantitative element in the project, think of designing a matrix and collecting feedback from stakeholders to identify the problem.
- Negotiate the expectations and stringent requirements: You will need to have a transparent and open discussion with the stakeholders. Ask for a budget if required. If you don’t ask, the answer will always be a “NO”. Narrow the focus to those requirements that they need.
Establish linkage with other business performance indicators, departments, customer or stakeholders. Convey that your project will play a more significant role in the organisation.
The outcome will generate a theme for the project and align different stakeholders and customers. Why take inputs from multiple people? Because People want to get heard. You will allow them to share. And create means for self to maximise exposure and strengthen the network.
Remember, more number of people know you, more is the chances to get PPO.
Slide 3: Current situation
People are interested to know how you arrived at the specific problem. You will be required to understand the current processes and investigate the pain area from a wide range of different data viewpoints. Many cuts and multiple levels of stratification is required to understand the problem. Evaluators are interested to know if you can see things differently and bring a new perspective in their daily work.
As an intern, you will want to solve all the problems. No doubt, you can do anything, but keeping the timeframe in mind, you need to limit yourself and deep dive to find chronic or specific issues.
Define the current situation in a structured manner by stratifying and prioritising the various pain areas.
To identify the root cause, you may use Process flow diagram, standard operating procedure, Check sheet, Stratification, Histogram, Pareto, and several other techniques. Once you have finalised the target, write a problem statement.
- A good problem statement
- will answer all the 5Ws and 1 H
- states the effect (what is wrong & not why it is wrong)
- focuses on the gap (between “what is” & “what should be”)
- is measurable (how often, how much and when)
- is specific (avoids broad & ambiguous categories)
- is positive (does not state as a question)
- And finally focuses on the “pain area” (how people are affected)
There may be hundreds of reason for the current situation. If you can understand the business as a whole, then you will make a significant contribution. Get to that important few root causes and define your problem statement. This is what management by facts is all about.
At this stage, you need to find out what are the probable causes and then identify/verify the root causes. A thorough list down of potential-to-probable-to-validated causes is required. Each validation requires additional testing and observation to provide a clear direction. I have seen people quickly jumping to the conclusion and rarely taking evaluators through the process. Evaluators would be really happy to know how you thought through.
There are several Methods of Identifying and Validating Causes and then to do an in-depth analysis.
You may use Cause & Effect, Brain Storming, Affinity / Relationship chart, Why-Why analysis, Hypothesis Testing, Histogram, Multiple Regression, SPC, Scatter diagram.
If you can communicate that you understand the business and the degree of impact each cause has on the effect, they would buy your suggestions.
It’s a good practice to invite more and more people to contribute to your findings by adding to possible causes. Remember, if you don’t add more people to your project, your personal learning curve will also not grow.
Slide 5: Counter Measures
It’s time to work on the Action items generated as a result of the Why-Why analysis, testing, observation or any method you have used earlier.
The objective should be very clear: To evaluate the effectiveness of the alternative solutions in eliminating or reducing root causes at optimum cost.
You need to develop potential countermeasures or solutions which would attack verified root causes, meet customer’s valid requirement and prove to be cost beneficial. Select the Best alternative and implement. Have a clear implementation plan with actions to be taken, person responsible with due dates.
You may use a tree diagram, matrix diagram, cost-benefit analysis or any other tool. There should be some official documentation of the intervention done. I have seen people saying, “I have done this and that,” it’s good if you have done but it’s time to show and not speak.
The solution should get linked with the current situation. If it is too aspirational or costly, nothing will get done. The more is the number of practical solutions which can be easily implemented, higher is the chance for PPO.
Slide 6: Result Check
It’s time to Check and confirm the root cause. You need to make sure that the specific problem is prevented from occurring again.
Start by listing both tangible and intangible benefits. How much is the target achieved compared to the specific problem statement? You may use before and after results using Histogram, Pareto or other charts to check if the results are satisfactory or not.
In case the results are not satisfactory, implement additional countermeasures.
Showing linkages with the planned objective and other business KPIs is essential. This helps the evaluator believe that you have tested the solution and made some significant contribution to the current situation. Your suggestions are not hypothetical but implemented and tested.
Slide 7: Standardisation
This is a significant step, and most Internship projects don’t have this one.
Understand that the Objective is to prevent the problem & its root causes from recurring. It can only be done when you help the employee manages the change effectively too. If you don’t support the company with this stage, your project would be just like any other printed document waiting to be discarded at any point in time. Act like an existing employee of the company.
Some of the major activities to be done here:
- You should Create/revise work process & standards like Work Instructions, PFDs, SOPs, Control Plan. If you can provide a snapshot of a few documents created then nothing like that.
- Train employees concerned on revised process/standards if any
- Establish a plan for a periodic check to monitor countermeasures
- How you can build the idea and implement it to other areas too
It’s essential to share the findings with all concerned stakeholders finally. Throughout your internship, you kept asking for data, data and data from multiple people. And when the result came, we only share with our mentor. A formal communication to all relevant departments about the new/revised findings become essential. This will help build an active communication channel for you to get PPO.
Slide 8: Future Plan
This is also a crucial step as students focus too much only on the hits. They don’t share misses or horizontal deployment scope for the future. It serves a definite purpose to justify why the company should hire you. If the evaluators have seen the benefit in the project, then they would love to have you in their team.
Analyse and evaluate any remaining problems. Share your Plan for future actions, if necessary
Review the task achieved & process adopted to find out
- What went right?
- What could be improved?
- What could be done differently?
- Where can the findings be deployed?
Don’t forget to share all documents, research done with the facilitator even before he asks. It leaves a lasting impression on him. If the project is worth, your facilitator would be asked to implement the project. The future plan, horizontal deployment ideas, and documents would help him take the first step. You mentor would be the first guy to fight for your PPO. He or she would love to have you in the team. Why? Because you have indeed collaborated with him and worked for his growth too.
Slide 9: Learning
This is my personal favourite slide. This will help evaluator to know more about you as a person and a Leader.
Add a few behavioural and Leadership learning from the internship in the form of personal learning or a story. Something like How this company has helped you to evolve as a better human being or helped you to have the refined skill set in a particular domain.
Few suggestions from my end:
- Examples where you have demonstrated time management skill
- Importance of creative thinking and collaboration
- How to work with different people and build a network.
- How to present thoughts and increase learning capacity etc.
I usually suggest students to share a story with personal learning from these 2 months and how they have already implemented that in life.
Slide 10: Feedback
Since we started with a unique welcome slide, similarly, why to use just a thank you slide. When you can add a lot more here.
Add some feedback of the people with whom you have worked on the project or some other assignments which were not accounted for in the presentation. If you have volunteered for some other work, do mention here. Like if you have anchored a birthday celebration, helped team in doing some audit or preparing some documents etc. communicate it as feedback from people and not directly brag about it.
This will be the static slide and would be there on the screen for a while even after you have left the room. It will speak a lot about how you spend 2 months in the company. It will convince them that you have really enjoyed your stay here and is definitely a cultural fit form them. And hence they will be motivated to give you a PPO and ask you to join.
This is the end of part 1 of the discussion.
Now, if you work backwards, you will be in a position to structure your effort and activities for 2 months. Isn’t it wonderful to learn how you can increase your productivity and win hearts in just 15 minutes of your presentation?
It’s time to move to Part 2 of our discussion. Some behavioural hacks or cheat code.
Part 2: Cheat Codes and Behavioural Hacks
Tip 1: Daily Management
You cannot have two sets of behaviours.
A summer internship is like a trial period, where the company can carefully observe the work ethic or behaviour and employ who they feel would be a good fit for the company’s culture. So daily management is essential.
Tip 2: Volunteer for Work
You need to get going right from the start. You are never sure of the result of the project. But if you can work along with the people and win hearts, that will serve as an excellent learning and brownie point for you.
Tip 3: Documentation
When sharing the complete data, add an additional note on how to use this data, what was assumed etc. You can use notepad to keep it simple. I did something unique and added a title for the document. If you hover the mouse over the document file, it gives a pop-up “I have a project, I have a dream”. Isn’t that too cool to influence people?
Tip4: Keep a log book
I used to keep adding all the questions whatever was going in my mind. It helped me big time during weekly reviews and meetings. I communicated that I am a guy with who practises self-reflection and keeps a check of all possibilities.
Tip 5: Have a script for your presentation
It’s important to speak more and not have too many details on slides. Many transition and change of slides will only distract the evaluator. Let me share some part of my presentation or the script.
Let me summarise the 10 slides for you.
- Slide 1: Project Summary
- Slide 2: reason for improvement
- Slide 3: current situation
- Slide 4: Analysis
- Slide 5: counter measures
- Slide 6: result check
- Slide 7: standardisation
- Slide 8: future plan
- Slide 9: learning
- Slide 10: feedback
Keep these in minds, and emerge as a visionary and people leader. As communicated, PPO would be a natural closure of your internship. Thank you so much for reading and watching the video. Hope this has helped you plan better and influence people effectively. Do let me know how you feel about this article/video/training in the comment section below. You can also find the links to download the presentation.
This is a part of 3-Days training program for college students. If required, please connect to customise training to your needs.
Singing off. All the best for your summers. Feel free to ask for any support or help.
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