“Do something that sets you apart from the rest of the crowd.”
Bachelors’ in Computer Science Engineering, Final year, College of Engineering, Guindy
Interviewer: N Ramya (GT)
Interviewee: Vivek John
GT: Tell us about how you developed a passion for Cybersecurity.
Vivek: I watch a lot of movies that involve cybersecurity, and the fact that cybersecurity has evolved in every field appealed to me a lot. If you specialize in this field, it can be applied to any area of your interest. In particular, cybersecurity applications using A.I is my latest interest.
GT: How did you get the internship opportunity at VISA?
Vivek: Usually, companies approach the final year graduates for placements, and take interns through a similar process. That’s how I came across VISA. The selection process had two rounds: coding and then an interview.
GT: What were the kind of activities that you indulged yourself in during the internship?
Vivek: My internship at VISA wasn’t a traditional one. The internship was molded into a learning experience where we were given three main challenges, out of which we could choose two to participate in and compete for prizes. For the first challenge, we were segregated into teams of six, with participants from Singapore, India, the US, and the UK. I collaborated with them to develop a theoretical paper (white paper presentation) on some innovative solutions to accelerate a cashless economy, since, in the current pandemic situation, digital payment is the need of the hour. The other two challenges were either to take up a hackathon and build an application to improve the customers’ experience; or to ‘capture the flag’ (also called CTF), a cybersecurity challenge where we were given a set of problems to solve and get a ‘flag’, usually a unique sequence of numbers to be identified. Apart from that, we were offered a huge summer scholarship along with which they organized multiple leadership programs, where we interacted with the senior members of the company.
GT: Did you encounter any challenges in your internship?
Vivek: There were several challenges I had faced, as it was my first time working from home. One of the main challenges was discussing within my team since my teammates were from so many different places and time zones. Each intern was paired with another intern who had prior experience in the field. We could converse with them and seek guidance throughout the internship, in both technical and non-technical aspects. We all read about theories in college but it is a completely different scenario when you implement them. I believe that as an intern, your mind should be open to all possibilities since perspective is subjective, but solutions have to be universal.
GT: What are some of the courses and certifications one can pursue to gain expertise in this field?
Vivek: If you are interested in learning Artificial Intelligence, you can start with the courses of Andrew NG, the founder and creator of Coursera. I predominantly used Coursera for learning. You can also check out various courses and specializations that the University of Michigan has to offer in the field of machine learning. In the case of cybersecurity, I would take any specific courses per se, but this internship has taught me a lot. If you want to experiment with cybersecurity, there are several mock websites like DVWA (Damn Vulnerable Web Application) that you can use to improve your hacking skills.
GT: What do you think, are the key takeaways from this internship?
Vivek: The first and foremost thing I learned was definitely to start planning more, because in a corporate environment even though the culture is relaxing and fun, you have to complete all your work on time. The second takeaway would be to start learning in-depth about whichever field you are interested in. Explore as much as you can. The last takeaway would probably be just to focus heavily on coding especially for CSE and IT, as it is the most vital area to learn about, no matter which field you are interested in.
GT: What would be your advice to your juniors?
Vivek: My first piece of advice is to do something that sets you apart from the rest of the crowd. You need to identify what your field of interest is within computer science, given that it is a huge field. This will help you in your interviews for internships and placements. You must be very clear with your basics, well before you reach the interview round since every internship has a coding round to begin with. So, practicing a lot of coding will be very helpful.
GT: Given that you are a professional tennis player, could you share your tips on efficient time management.
Vivek: Most people feel that sports and studying cannot go hand-in-hand. However, in my case, tennis was my break from studying and vice versa. In fact, playing sports teaches you how to focus entirely for an hour in anything you do. This ultimately enables us to optimize and prioritize, even on a time crunch.
GT: Finally, what do you think of Intern Diaries?
Vivek: It’s an inspiring initiative as students will be aware of various aspects of internships. It helps them to prepare beforehand for the rounds in the selection process.
The Guindy Times thanks Vivek John for spending his valuable time and wishes him all the best for his future endeavours.