To get the opportunity to pursue an internship at your dream company in today’s competitive world is difficult, even more so when it is at a FMCG giant such as Mondelez International. Divanshu Kumar, a 3rd year undergraduate student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at IIT Madras did exactly that – won a golden ticket to the chocolate factory which has made treats that have been a must at every joyous occasion. This summer, he was among a select few who pursued their internship at Mondelez International and we had the opportunity to hear his story first hand. Here is an excerpt from our interview of Divanshu Kumar based on his experience at Mondelez.
Cadbury needs no introduction, but could you tell us a little about Cadbury and what they do?
Though Cadbury is what we are familiar with, its parent brand is Mondelez international. Mondelez bought Cadbury in 2010, and in India they run their factory in the name of Mondelez International, via Cadbury. All international operations are conducted from United States, their headquarters. Its an FMCG company. Cadbury produces chocolates and they have 3-4 main branches in India.
So when they come for interviews to our college, they come as Mondelez, not Cadbury. It hires only chemical and mechanical dual degree students as interns and don’t take B.Tech students at all. It is only open for around 80-90 students. However, this won’t be as important to the next batch as they don’t have compulsory core internships.
What kind of work do you do as an intern? How does this benefit the company?
Most FMCG companies providing internships will give you a techno managerial role, where the job not only involves managing people but will also requires technical knowledge. So, it is not completely technical, compared to a robotics or automation company. This provides you with a mixture of both managerial and technical skills. Usually, they give interns a problem statement and they have to work it out during their period of internship. For example, most of the people in my batch who went to Cadbury got overweight reduction and scrap reduction in different Cadbury chocolates like dairy milk and five star as their problem statement. This techno managerial role encompasses many different responsibilities. You will have to understand how chocolate manufacturing works, right from raw material to crumb formation to finished packing. You will need to understand why chocolate has scrap or why it gets overweight. Thus the role does involve some amount of technical knowledge, but managerial part comes into play when you have to interact with people on the shop floor, and try to understand the manufacturing design.
Ideally, you should have a good communication skills for interacting with people. Everyone speaks English, so language is not an issue. The problem comes when they are involved in their own work and they have no reason to pay attention to you. You are nobody to them. This is where the managerial part comes in, you should have good interpersonal and communication skills so you can talk to them and make them understand that your work is important as well. So This is why when it comes to interviews, Cadbury or for that matter any FMCG people, they look for some leadership skills or the PORs. Not the number, but the kind of PORs that you may have done in insti. Whether you have really created impact in some way or had leadership roles in the past.
Now my project is little bit different from what they generally give. I have been assigned the supporting role to close the gaps in qualification of phase zero IL6S audit of the plant. Every company, when setting up a new plant have different kind of audits. So if there is a new factory set up by Cadbury, it will have different sectors, for example if there is chocolate there will be quality checks, safety checks, and many other bare minimum requirements. So all these checks have an audit every two to three years to make sure that the factory is progressing well. All this is done by the head of that role, from the headquarters/AMEA.
My project is basically about following the integrated lean six sigma principle to help the plant qualify for audit.
How is the overall work culture at Mondelez International? How was your overall experience?
Work hours are quite lenient. I stay in an apartment complex about half an hour from the factory, along with many other people from Cadbury. The general working hours for interns or anybody for that matter is 8:30 in the morning to 4:30 in the evening. From 8:30 to 9:00 they provide breakfast in the factory ( which is better than our mess food). Work is from from 9:00 to 4:30, and you are provided with lunch as well. They also have a bus service which drops people off to their respective locations. Since it is a factory, production goes on 24/7. Some employees involved in management also take night shifts. There are even some committed people who work till 10 in the night. If you wish to stay past normal hours, you are provided with a cab.
The best part about Mondelez according to me is the lack of hierarchy. In general when you go to companies you don’t get a chance to interact well with the seniors. Here, they do not have cubicles at all. There is a huge office, we call it the 7 meter office where everybody from the plant leaders to the interns work together on a single table. This is only true for a few companies. To sum it up, the company culture is good, you can interact with a lot of seniors and they don’t mind you asking questions.
In the factory here in Andhra Pradesh if you get an intern you have to work six days a week but if you get an intern in Mumbai or something you will only have to work 5 days a week. But there is no pressure. There were days when I went to the factory on Sundays as well, but I still had enough time to do whatever I wanted in his free time. But a small problem is the factory’s location itself. It isn’t located in the main hub of the city. So if you don’t have a cab or any car arrangement it becomes quite tough. You have to change 2 or 3 vehicles to get there. But as long as you get the work done properly nobody troubles you. There have been times where I missed the morning slot and came in the afternoon. My mentor didn’t mind because I was doing the work on time. They treat interns well.
My intern is quite different from the project based intern. The project for a project based intern only pertains to one department and solve a particular problem. So they are usually given a department like Cadbury dairy milk, and they have to work only for that particular department. On the contrary, I get to interact with all the members and all the leaders of the plant. So for me in depth knowledge is not a prerequisite, but my area of operation is broad. Others have to understand the intricacies of the chocolate making process but their area is really limited.
The best part about Mondelez according to me is the lack of hierarchy. The company culture is good, you can interact with a lot of seniors and they don’t mind you asking questions.
Can you talk about why you chose Mondelez in particular and how it will help with placements?
Mondelez comes to the institute every year. I was very interested in working with FMCG companies, so I applied for ITC, P&G and UNILEVER and got to final rounds in both Unilever and P&G. After that, I got Mondelez. Those were the only companies which I applied for. These are the companies which come in the first month of the internship process itself. For example if the internship process is starting in August, these companies will come in the first or second week. Mondelez comes a bit later in the month.
For any FMCG company the process is first resume submission & shortlist, then group discussion, then interview. In the group discussion they usually look for people who can interact well with other people and make them understand their viewpoint. The catch here is that you should stand apart from the crowd. Standing apart doesn’t mean you don’t give anybody a chance to speak or be loud. Standing apart means putting across a good viewpoint that gives you an edge over the others
Around 70-90 people applied this year, and 3 got in. FMCG companies come as core internships. Although the intern may not be exactly related to the core subject, in IITs they are counted as core internships.
Do you want to share same advice for people who want to take similar FMCG interns?
Any FMCG offers a very diverse role to interns. And maybe that’s why a lot of students prefer working in FMCG company (And also, their stipend is pretty good). So if you are someone who likes to explore different things and is not very core enthu guy, they offer the best opportunity.
Authors: Sanjeev Parameswaran (BT-ME ’20) & Hari Ramachandran (DD-MM ’20)
This is our first article in the series The Intern Guru. Stay tuned for more such articles where we bring you amazing stories from students who got a sneak peek into how life is working at some of your most favorite companies and universities. To get updates on more such articles like and follow us on facebook at Chennai36.