On-the-job training takes on whole new meaning at PMFTC

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Interns visit PMFTC Inc.’s tobacco plantation as part of the program.

If you’re a college sophomore, chances are you haven’t even begun thinking about your on-the-job training, much less the specific company you’d want to spend a summer with to prepare you for employment.

It’s these students, however, that PMFTC Inc. (PMFTC), Philip Morris International’s Philippine affiliate, are looking to hire for its internship program called Inkompass, which is described by PMFTC’s talent acquisition manager Marvin Malabanan as a more “meaningful” on-the-job training for students compared to other companies’.

“[Inkompass is] unlike other internships, wherein we get feedback that they don’t really get to do meaningful stuff—just make coffee, set appointments or buy food,” says Malabanan. “The things we’ll ask you to do, your classmates won’t be doing it [in other companies], so you’ll have an advantage in terms of the exposure that you’ll get. Some of the tasks involve concepts which you will only tackle in your senior year.”

A global PMI program, Inkompass was launched here in the Philippines in 2015. Divided into two cycles, interns work with PMFTC for a total of four months, or two summers. There are no specific course requirements, so anyone is free to apply.

“We don’t even look at your grades. We do have an assessment; [interns] take online tests. Then we have a one-day on-ground assessment, where they also have activities and talks. There we see how they work with others. We invite our senior management there,” says Malabanan.

During Inkompass’ first year, Malabanan says the company received an overwhelming number of applications: 9,000 from different schools nationwide. From there, PMFTC narrowed down the selection to 100 students, from which 15 were finally selected for the program. The lucky few not only get the full corporate experience—they also receive an allowance of P27,000 for the duration of the internship. The company also takes care of their transport expenses, such as airfare, when needed.

“Interns then select their own projects. We give them a list of what’s available. We recommend, but they’re free to swap based on their interests, skills; it doesn’t have to be related to their course,” says Malabanan.

Loi Duma, an Accountancy graduate of the University of Santo Tomas who was part of the first batch of Inkompass interns, says she chose to join PMFTC’s corporate affairs function during the first cycle of her internship, despite her course’s financial nature. This allowed her and her co-interns to visit PMFTC’s tobacco plantations and participate in their various corporate social responsibility programs.

Duma then moved to sales during the second cycle. “I got to talk with the sales managers, and even the consumers,” she recalls. “In my course, internship isn’t required, so [joining Inkompass] was really my choice.”

It was a choice that paid off, as Duma was part of the team of interns whose project—a study on millennials’ behavior and its impact on PMFTC’s business—was chosen as champion of an international contest held every year among all Inkompass interns.

“It’s not just a local internship; although you’ll be working with PMFTC, the opportunities are really global,” says Malabanan.

Duma is also set to start work with PMFTC soon, as the company recently offered her a post as graduate trainee for finance.

Ultimately, what Inkompass offers college students, says Malabanan, is the complete experience of working in a corporate environment—and the chance to find out if such environment is where they wish to be once they embark on their respective careers.

“If you feel that an internship in a corporate environment will help you advance in your goals, then we will find suitable work for you,” Malabanan says. “Our focus is really the intern. We want them to have this journey of self-discovery. Because sometimes, students don’t really know what they want to do after they graduate, so this is a way to help them clarify what their aspirations and goals are.”

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