An Intern’s Perspective: How Internship During The Pandemic Has Shaped My Agility

Are you an ambitious person looking for a meaningful experience to hone your agility during (and may be for after) this pandemic? Go ahead and read my story on how my internship at Danone did just that.

#Career Story #Meet Danoners #Internship #Work From Home #Agility
31 August 2020

“Always do the extra miles.”

This simple sentence, yet deep in its meaning, has been echoing since I joined Danone in early 2020.

My name is Raihan, I am a fresh graduate from the Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Indonesia. Earlier this year, on January 13th 2020 to be precise, I started my journey as an intern in the Cycles and Procurement (C&P) Department at Danone Indonesia. I was assigned at the Raw Material Ingredients (RMI) category and worked under ingredients and dairy buyer.

For those unfamiliar with the function, C&P is a part of the upstream business process. The role itself is to ensure the procurement process of all ingredients in all Danone Indonesia’s products run well. To describe it clearly, the simple end-to-end process of our job are: contract signing and dealing with the suppliers, ordering raw materials and tracking them until they arrive at our plants. Moreover, we also maintain the supplier’s sustainability through Sedex account tracking, solving the quality issue during the production phase, and being the spearhead of Danone Indonesia’s product innovation. I myself have a personal project to analyse the mitigation plan related to the demurrage issue of fructose procurement.

 

Everything was so fine at the beginning of my internship. But, everything changed since the Covid-19 outbreak hit. The global supply chain was badly affected, and so we have to bear the brunt. Why? Because we have so many global suppliers of raw material! Nothing we can do about that; we only could work so hard to find a way to contravene this issue. Despite being an intern, the team involved me in every process to deal with this very complex issue. Here are how things went:

First, we mapped the contingency plan. We needed to do this in order to get a bigger picture and a wider perspective of what we were going to do. We didn’t want our contingency plan to have a bigger severity than the original-affected plan. “How long is the extra lead time?” “Will the product’s quality change if we choose this plan?” “Does this plan meet our sustainability principle?”. Those are questions that we asked to ourselves in parallel with mapping the contingency plan.

Second, re-dealing with suppliers. How the price and lead time changes are the most crucial questions to be asked to the suppliers. For the most part, it ended up between reducing the order quantity or changing the shipment method.

Lastly, we counted to look for another supplier. The supplier itself could be either a brand new supplier or supplier who already supplies to another Danone in the world. The pain point of this part is to harvest supplier’s documents to be added to our system so that we can release the purchase order. I call it the hardest part because most of them are global supplier, which means that we have different time-zone and yet we had to make the order released as soon as possible. So, it was normal for me back then to check emails at 3 AM and send the feedback immediately. If I recall those memories of sleepless nights, I can only laugh at myself. But it’s not as bad as it may sound though!

Yet, those hours of working my fingers to the bone was one of the most unforgettable moments of my life. I am forever grateful for this meaningful experience and the reminder that you have to go the extra miles to achieve great things.

After 5 months, I wrapped my journey at Danone Indonesia. I have learned many things, but if I may tie-up, these things taught to me the most during my internship experience:

1. Be agile

Sometimes, you were given a task that even your boss doesn’t know how it’s done. Hence, you must find a way yourself. You could have liaised with supplier, legal team, IS/IT team, quality team, global procurement team, master data team, or even DanTrade. I was overwhelmed, but I can assure you it’s all satisfying in the end.

2. Be assertive

Most of the time, I was being the bridge between supplier and buyer. Not all supplier’s issues should be escalated to the buyer. Sometimes, the issue should be solved by myself. The problem comes when you can’t be assertive when you need to. You will be underestimated by them and it feels bad, truly. There is time you can be casual to them, but you should know when in time to be assertive.

3. Understand what you are going to do

At Danone, you will be faced with many projects and daily activities along with abundant information. There is a time when my day was filled with meetings of different projects and I got distracted in meeting A with meeting B preparation. Guess what? I ended up under performing in both meetings because I didn’t record any specific information. Then, I should ask again the information that I needed, and it became such a waste of time! I think it is a must to record all the information until it is clear and can be used as basic data for your next strategic action as well as deliverables of the next meeting.

4. Always do the extra mile

Last but not least, that’s my recommendation for your charm. Exceeding the expectation of what you were told will bring you a good point and a safety net. Sometimes your boss will challenge you more from what they asked for in the beginning. This sentence was implicitly attached in every Danoners here. This is also what has shaped me after I finished my journey here.

You may think this now: How do Danoners keep hanging on in this situation?

Easy. It’s the peopleThe working environment at Danone is so fun that I never felt overwhelmed by my tasks! They gave warm welcome when I first step my feet in Danone, they celebrated my birthday, they gave me some motivation to counter unwanted feelings, and I have got the finest emotional support in here.

Thank you, Danone! It is not a goodbye, it is a see you again, pretty sure we will cross path again in the near future.