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Helping Achievers Accelerate into the Future

by Eddie Rayner

The economy is changing daily, and with it, the talents and skills required to be successful are evolving too. The job market is a competitive one, and often that is a demanding learning curve for young people. This is a big reason behind the growth of internship opportunities, which provide real-life experience and exposure. So, if you’re lucky enough to be offered a beneficial internship, it can be extraordinarily valuable for your future career.

Recently, for example, Al-Futtaim Automotive ran an exclusive Ramadan Internship programme for its Al Futtaim Education Foundation senior school students. The role was advertised on ‘A Future with Us’, and interested students had to submit a virtual application and were then scheduled for one-to-one interviews with the respective Branch Manager.

Seventeen interns were selected from the Deira International School and the Universal American School

Seventeen interns were selected from Deira International School and Universal American School in Dubai Festival City. The two sister schools are owned and operated by Al Futtaim Education Foundation. The interns were placed in Al-Futtaim Automotive’s Honda, Volvo, CJDR, Toyota, and Lexus showrooms as Customer Experience Representatives. The students reported to their respective Branch Managers on the first day of Ramadan following a two-day training and orientation run by the Automotive Academy. They also received uniforms and badges and, upon finishing the programme, a Certificate of Completion. The internship duration was from 13 April to 10 May, weekdays from 8:30 pm to 10:30 pm.

Today’s Talent, Tomorrow’s Success
The students learned the ropes ‘on the floor’ of the various showrooms for one whole month, until Eid. Ramadan is the busiest time of the season for automotive dealerships, but the students were definitely up for the challenge and eager to get some hands-on experience in sales, communications and customer service.

After completing the internship programme, Malaika Malik, a Grade 11 student from Universal American School, was invited onto Dubai Eye Radio 103.8 to discuss her experience and why she chose an internship in a car showroom.

In the interview, Malaika reflected on the process and talked about how she learned about all the car specifications and selling points, as well as the consumer’s buying process. She was also asked about her thoughts and predictions about car sales in the future, giving a very thoughtful and considered reply that belied her age and experience.

Malaika Malik, a Grade 11 student from the Universal American School, was invited on to Dubai Eye Radio 103.8 to talk about her experience

It is not often that a 16-year-old gains real sales experience and gets the chance to sell the latest Land Cruiser – in less than a couple of weeks. The customers were quite surprised when they learned Malaika’s age, as she explained: “They were really shocked at my age; that I was 16, helping them purchase a car!”

The reaction from Ray Addison, the journalist behind the Motor Mania radio show, summed up exactly how we all felt after hearing Malaika’s interview: “I think there will be a lot of people listening in, who own their businesses, who will be thinking I need somebody like Malaika working in my company.” In fact, so impressed was everyone at Dubai Eye Radio 103.8 that they now feature Malaika’s soundbites as part of their current promotional ads for the Motor Mania show!

Hear the whole interview at https://omny.fm/shows/motor-mania/19-06-motor- mania-podcast

There is no doubt that Malaika impressed everyone in the showroom, including the customers and showroom managers. Her excellent customer service and communication skills were very clear from the start. She also showed a positive can-do attitude and applied all of the problem-solving skills the IB framework had taught her during her studies at Universal American School. She used these skills to navigate around a whole new environment and without having any knowledge about car sales beforehand.

It is not often that a 16-year-old gains real sales experience and gets the chance to sell the latest Land Cruiser

An Asset to Any Organisation
The feedback from the Branch Managers on all of the interns was extremely positive, with an average rating of 2.83 (where one is fair and three is excellent). Typical comments included:

“The intern was very supportive; she was punctual, approached the customers with a smile, did the basic qualification, and directed the customer to the right sales executive.

“I hope the current youth are all like these interns in terms of manners, behaviour, outlook and education. It would be safe to say the future is in good hands.”

“I hope the current youth are all like these interns in terms of manners, behaviour, outlook and education”

“The interns made a comparison chart on a whiteboard to better understand model specs and differences and would refer to it daily before we opened for business so that they were well prepared to interact with customers. They would be an asset to any organisation.”

An internship can be a real confidence builder for a student. Being successful in the real world can inspire students to work harder at school and be more willing to take on challenges or be outside of their comfort zone. It’s an opportunity to get real work experience, solving real tasks. And this year, everyone was a winner, not least Al- Futtaim Automotive!