The More You Know | Ritika Ajmera

Jun 16, 2020

I was very delighted when I got this opportunity to pen down my internship journey. I would be more than happy to share it. Before starting, I would like to brief you about my profile so that you may decide whether this blog might be useful for you or not. I am a Y17 student in the Economics department. At the end of the second year, my CPI was 8.4. Major POR - Manager, Ritambhara, Antaragni'19. I'm currently interning at Deskera in the Software Development profile.

So, here goes my journey-
I was certain of one thing that I did not wish to apply for an academic internship. Till the end of my sophomore year, neither did I have any internship experience or significant project work in any particular profile nor did I have a specific interest, based on which I could take any decision (Though I would recommend if you can find an internship through LinkedIn or some connections it would definitely help you in making better choices). So I was among the majority club of students who were not really sure about which profile they wish to apply for. But this is not what I thought at that time. I had several friends who were very confident about their preferences, and their preparation was precise (which is a great thing anyway, you can give yourself a pat !). I was anxious about my uncertain choices. But seriously, trust me, this is the situation of most of your companions, and there is nothing to worry about. Just focus on your preparation, and you would sail through the internship process smoothly :)

What I knew at that time was I like Competitive Coding (I did ESO207 in my third sem and continued little bit of coding in my fourth sem), I really enjoyed the course HSO201 (Applied Probability & Statistics), and I was developing interest in Finance (I did Financial Economics Course in summers). So I decided to apply to almost all the companies open for our department in the profile preference order :

Data Analyst/Quantitative Analysis > Software Development > Finance/Business Analyst

Also, my branch did not allow me to prioritize among companies. So that wasn't a callous decision to make. But if you have that luxury, do not apply for everything! Avoid applying for your least preferred profiles.

Now let's come to the preparation part. The first obstacle you need to clear is the company's test and get shortlisted for the interview. I would talk about it first. I'll come to the interview preparation later on.

Preparation for Tests

I talked to a lot of seniors (Talking helps a lot!!). I went through the Internship Insights on the SPO website. You may also check it once and see what all was asked in the tests and interviews of companies you are targeting. So mainly, my preparation consisted of Competitive Coding, probability related questions, and puzzles. These form the major portions of the tests. Some companies also included sections of data science, aptitude tests, Machine Learning, Case Study, and language proficiency.

Coding: To achieve proficiency in coding, practice & consistency is the key! I was a part of the Microsoft CODESS program. They gave us a few coding assignments, which helped me revise my concepts of ESC101 & ESO207. I sincerely started coding daily in July. I would recommend InterviewBit for coding. Almost all companies test your coding skills. So if someone is planning to skip the coding part entirely, please don't do that! Even profiles other than Software Development have the coding section to test your basic coding skills.
One thing I would like to stress upon is practice implementing the code within a time limit. I was also advised the same, but I didn't take it seriously and had to regret it later. Basically, you won't find extremely difficult questions in tests. The challenge is to run your code within the specified time. So do practice that!

Quant: For the quant part, I mainly solved 50 Challenging Problems in Probability and puzzles from Brainstellar. There are some common problems which often repeat in the tests, make sure you know them. In the Goldman Sachs test, 3 out of 8 or 10 (I don't remember) quant questions were known to me. In JP Morgan's interview, I was asked an alteration of one of the problems in 50 CP.
You may check out this link for more resources:
[Credits: Prajual Maheshwari ]

Finance: Although most companies don't expect knowledge of Finance, its always better to have some prior knowledge if you're applying in investment banks or financial firms. Investopedia and Varcity are some of the sites which you may refer to.

I did not prepare much for the Mental ability and data science part as I was pretty confident about them. And I think I did reasonably well in the tests as well. You may practice some mock tests to boost up your confidence and speed.

Resume making: Most of the blogs have already covered this part really well. From my side, I would suggest get it proofread by at least 4-5 seniors and make changes accordingly. Also, make separate resumes for different profiles if you have enough content (I didn't have much, so I used two resumes only)

Here comes the real struggle!

In my case, clearing tests and getting shortlisted was not the toughest part. The interviews were! And here comes the most adventurous, and probably, I should say the most frustrating part as well of the internship season. But, honestly, once you would land up in a good company, every effort would be worth it. I was one of those people who had to face a large number of rejections before finally getting an intern. Okay, that might sound scary, it's not that getting an intern at first shot is difficult, I guess I wasn't well prepared & I made a lot of mistakes that could have been avoided. I am not going in too much detail of what exactly was asked in each of the interviews (you may dm me if you wish to know). I would briefly try to include the dos and don'ts for the interviews. I hope you guys would learn something from my mistakes and refrain from repeating them.

So, I was shortlisted for 4 companies in the first two days of the internship season. Deutsche Bank, Microsoft, and Gartner on Day 1 (Microsoft was not open for the Eco department, I was eligible for the interview through the CODESS program) and American Express on Day 2.

So, how did I prepare for the interview day? I revised short notes prepared for the relevant courses(ESO207, HSO201, Fin. Economics), reviewed some basic algorithms and some starred questions from InterviewBit(Well I guess all this was my plan, I didn't do much at the last moment. I was in a highly tensed mode....:P). But I didn't pay much attention to the project I did in the first year, which I mentioned in my resume. I guess I screwed up my DB and Gartner's Interview due to this. They started an in-depth discussion on my project, which I wasn't prepared for. My biggest piece of advice would be, please prepare your resume really well. You should be able to defend each and every point on your resume. Don't just write things which you are not sure about. A useful tip: try to get the interviewer's attention towards your strengths-whether it's your POR, some project, knowledge of a particular field, or anything which you're confident to talk about. The Microsoft interview went reasonably well, and I was pretty satisfied with my performance, but I guess they had more deserving candidates to choose from. They asked a couple of technical questions related to binary trees and strings. They will literally make you write the code on a piece of paper(mind it! 'code' not pseudocode).

Now here comes the challenging part! I wasn't very good at handling rejections. After being rejected from 3 companies on Day 1, I was utterly disheartened. I was very lucky that I had people around me who were there for emotional support. I completely forgot that I may have an interview with American Express the next day(the shortlist was yet to come). I woke up the following day to find that I have been shortlisted for American Express and have an interview in an hour. I had no clue what they were going to ask in the interview. I gathered all my confidence and went for the interview. In the first round, they asked me a known puzzle, and had a brief discussion on economics. In the second round, they gave me a guesstimate with some general HR questions in both the rounds. First round was fine, but I didn't do very well in the second round. What I realized after the interview was, instead of repenting the previous day, I could have been more optimistic and utilized my time to talk to seniors and prepare for the next day. I could have solved a few guesstimates if I had known earlier. I know, everyone would give their best shot on Day 1. But here's the advice guys....please prepare your mindset that things may not turn in your favor despite all your efforts. Don't lose hope at any point (I know I know ...kehna bht aasan hai ...:P). Few more things to keep in mind - even if you don't know the answer to some question, don't just sit and do nothing. Let the interviewer know how you're approaching the problem or maybe ask for hints. Sometimes they just wish to check your thought process. There are some basic HR questions which are often asked, like why do you want to join our company? Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? Your strengths and weaknesses? Etc, it's better to prepare these questions in advance.

Interviews are mostly organized on the weekends. Tests would be scheduled the whole week. After the first two days, you would have plenty of time to practice and improve yourself. The more you practice the more you're prepared! Just utilize your time wisely. Parallel to this internship season, I had to work for Ritambhara as well. Although some days were really hectic for me, but honestly, I learned to manage my time really well. So this series of tests and a couple of interviews continued for a few more weeks when I was finally selected for Deskera.

The selection procedure for Deskera was pretty straightforward. First, there was shortlisting based on the resume. And then there was just one interview of around 45 minutes. First I was asked to introduce myself and describe the major points in my resume. Then there was a simple guesstimate question followed by a couple of questions on linked lists. In the end, I was asked a few general questions like Why do I want to join Deskera? How did I manage to continue coding despite my branch? What are my interests? etc.

“The biggest mistake is letting the mistake demoralize you.”

In a nutshell, see this lockdown as a golden opportunity for yourself. Not just for intern preparation, but also for developing new skills or habits, exploring new fields of interest, doing courses, projects or internships. Even if you can fetch a couple of hours for intern preparation from your daily routine, that would be more than enough. Also, talk to as many seniors as you can. As I said, talking always helps! Learn from your mistakes and keep improving. You're gonna learn a lot from this internship season!
That goes without saying, feel free to reach out to me, not necessarily for intern gyaan, you're always welcome for some random bulla sessions! :P

- Ritika Ajmera