THE HR INTERNSHIP
Being in an MBA course, candidates usually turn towards “seniors” for guidance for the summer internship and well, I did the same. Most of the things I heard revolved around how interns are not given any importance in companies or how I should be careful with companies lest they dupe me. But what I experienced at OODI was nothing like what I had heard about “summer internship” experiences.
Cut to my first day at OODI. I felt intimidated by the new environment, everyone looked so busy chilling in their work and here I was, an MBA student, an “HR aspirant” with no prior corporate experience, trying to find his place in a start-up.
One of the plus points of my internship was that I had no job description, I was free to contribute what I wanted to. Of course in my selection interview I expressed some ideas regarding a few challenges the company was facing with their human resource management which got me the position. But I didn’t know head or tail of where and how to start.
I love being professional. Whether it is wearing formals or sending out emails, I like establishing the fact that I am a professional. And, that’s the vision I had for OODI; to turn everybody into a professional. I had identified this as my top priority and major challenge. I have to agree that being a professional I definitely expected the employees to be professional even in their appearance.
Employees chilling, bonding over coffee, wearing whatever they like to, not having strict supervision and basically working in a casual style is something I was not accustomed to. And I believed that turning everyone into a hardcore professional would make things better for the company. But boy was I wrong. As time passed by, I began to see the beauty of the work culture at OODI.
Surprising to me, not having strict policies and protocols turned out to be the strength of the company which led to higher employee satisfaction. And, as an HR professional, I still believe that, the one reason why the employees at OODI are satisfied with their work life is because of the freedom given to them to choose the best course of action to execute their job responsibilities.
Now, my major challenge was to bring out required levels of formalization in the company without stealing away its unique selling point as an awesome work environment.
As challenging as it may sound, most of it was a cake walk for me. Why? Because when you have a founder who supports your ideas, employees who are willing to experiment & embrace change and a company whose foundation is based on creativity challenges won’t seem like challenges. They will seem more like milestones to achieve.
One thing that occupied most of my time was researching and drafting internal policies to improve governance of employees. By the end of my 2-month internship I had drafted and re-drafted (with employee support and feedback) so many policies that I was given the nickname “policybazaar.com” by my colleagues which is by far the most treasured nickname I have been given, second only to “fluid” (also given to me by OODI).
What I’m trying to say is, the work culture at OODI is like a near perfect balance of freedom and accountability. Attending so many guest lectures at college, I have heard the following countless times.
“don’t forget to have fun at work, because if you’re not having fun at work, that means you’re not enjoying what you do, and if you don’t enjoy what you do, your success might keep evading you indefinitely”
But when you have a work environment like OODI, it becomes really hard to not fall in love with your work and contribution.
My biggest learning through this internship is how to keep the fun alive even while maintaining unshakeable professional standards; how to be professional in a casual work environment. Work doesn’t always have to be boring and people who wear formals aren’t the only ones who are professional. I’ve learnt to build meaningful connections with employees and with their help develop solutions to critical organizational challenges.
As they say, having a bad job with a good boss is much better than having a good job with a bad boss. I believe at OODI one can find the good in both; the job and the boss.