Bachelor's in Information Technology, Final year, College of Engineering, Guindy
Interviewer: Samhita Miriyala (GT)
Interviewee: Vasanthan R
GT: How did you land an elusive internship like this, and how was the entire interview process for you?
Vasanthan: How I got into Amazon is actually a really interesting story. Before Amazon, I had applied to five companies through CUIC and didn't get past the first round of selection for all of them. I knew I was missing something. So, the day before my first round at Amazon, I went through some interview experience blogs on sites like GeeksforGeeks posted by many students all over India regarding their interview experiences with Amazon along with the type of questions they were asked. This gave me a good overview of how the first round would be structured, and because of that, I was fortunately able to crack the first round. The surprising part of it was that including me, only two students were selected for the second round. The second round was a technical interview. To start with, I was asked to introduce myself and then explain the projects I had undertaken in the past. After that, I was tested on Data Structures; mainly on Trees and Graphs. With this, the interview ended. And luckily, I got selected for the internship.
GT: What compelled you to apply for an internship at Amazon and what did you do there?
Vasanthan: Initially, I thought Amazon was too far fetched a goal for me, so I concentrated on medium level companies. However, getting rejected by 5 companies helped me get on track towards landing a better company. I prepared hard for the Amazon interview because of that. Being one of the top companies, it is a great place to start one’s career. This is why I applied for the internship and I was lucky enough to get selected for the same.
GT: Would you like to be a full-time employee there someday?
Vasanthan: Yes, I have actually received a pre-placement offer from Amazon. I even remember the date; it was July 23rd when I got my results. I was extremely pleased when I found out that I would be continuing my journey with Amazon.
GT: According to you, how would you be able to achieve that?
Vasanthan: Two days before the end of my internship, I got the information from my manager stating that I would be going through two rounds of interviews immediately after my internship period. Since I had already prepared for my internship interviews, the process was quite easy for me. I just had to recollect what I had studied a year ago. I spent the next two days skimming through all the important concepts. Then I went through two rounds of interviews where I was tested on Graphs, Trie (an advanced data structure), and basic OOPS concepts. This was how I was able to receive a PPO from Amazon.
GT: Why do you want to work in this industry?
Vasanthan: Right from my higher secondary, I’ve been interested in Computer Science because computers have become a part of everything we do. I believe the most important aspect of Information Technology, in particular, is problem-solving which I deem my biggest strength. To be honest, I also heard that software engineers are paid well. Considering all these factors, I saw a good future in this industry, which is the reason behind my choice. So unlike most others, I chose the industry first and then started developing my interest in this field.
GT: What do you think your strengths are in this field?
Vasanthan: Firstly, I think my biggest strength is that I am a fast learner. A software engineer should be able to adapt to new technologies fast and I think I’m pretty good at that. Secondly, one of the most important qualities for a person to have in this industry is patience. Software problems can arise from even the smallest of errors, and a programmer will spend a larger chunk of their time debugging code than writing it. Thirdly, I started developing problem-solving and logical thinking skills on my own, because these are skills that I think differentiate skilled software engineers from good ones. Apart from these soft-skills, I’m good at Object-oriented Design, C++ programming language, Data structures, and a bit of Machine Learning.
GT: As your internship took place during the lockdown period how did you manage work and interacting with your colleagues?
Vasanthan: I had all the required resources, good internet connectivity and everything essential for the internship. I didn't particularly face any issues. Amazon, being an excellent company, took all the steps to make sure I was comfortable. My manager made sure I interacted with all my team members. It wasn't the same as physically working in an office but it was still great!
GT: Lately it has been hard for most of us to concentrate with so much going on, how do you prioritise your work and do it efficiently?
Vasanthan: To be honest, I don’t think I’m a person who uses time effectively. I’m the guy who binge-watches series at night and then wakes up and starts tings late - pretty much a night owl. I spend only a small amount of time effectively, but I make sure I utilize that time to the maximum extent, without distractions. Speaking about prioritizing, I am a person who believes that one should spend an equal amount of time on their interests and academic work. I’ve been a member of CEG Spartanz, the official variety team of CEG, since my first year in college. The time I spend on my passion indeed helps me to focus better on my academics as well.
GT: Tell us about a time when you successfully dealt with a difficult situation while working as an intern?
Vasanthan: The only difficult situation I faced was getting up early for work. I was used to being one of those people very often mocked in popular memes about their unruly sleep patterns. That was, however, until my first day at Amazon. My first challenge at Amazon was to change my sleep schedule. I didn’t try to deal with it actively. I started sleeping early because I was really tired at the end of each day. This helped me wake up early too, so my schedule fixed itself on its own. Another difficult situation I can think of was communication. Every day during those two months, they expected me to report my progress to my mentor. Initially, it was difficult for me to find the right words to explain what I did. So what I did was, every day before my meeting, I spent half an hour preparing a notepad wherein I wrote all the keywords and also prepared my sentence structures. So, during the meeting, I would refer to my notepad and explain my progress to him in a more efficient way than I did before.
GT: Do you have any tips or advice for our listeners so they can also achieve the same things as you have?
Vasanthan: First of all, I’m sure that most of them can achieve much greater things than I have. I don’t think I’m experienced enough to give solid advice or tips. But even so, there’s a famous quote I want to highlight, “What comes easy won’t last. What lasts won’t come easy”. Work hard and it will definitely pay off one day. Luck plays a major role in all this as well. But you’ll find that the harder you work, the better chances you have. If you asked me if I have ever imagined that I’d land in a company like Amazon someday, I would say yes. Though I knew it was a near impossible feat to achieve, I had always believed it would happen someday or the other. Lastly, I’d like to say that the best way to achieve something is to set up short term goals and work towards it. That’s all from my side.
GT: What do you have to say about the Intern Diaries series?
Vasanthan: I would like to thank GT for giving me this wonderful opportunity. I feel the Intern Diaries series is a great initiative and I sincerely hope that Guindy Times will continue this in the years to come. Thank you once again for this memorable experience.
The Guindy Times thanks Vasanthan R for spending his valuable time in sharing his internship experiences and wishes him all the best for his future endeavours.