Intern: Citi Corp
Sri Siva Murugan V (GT)
Srihari (Bachelors in Computer Science and Engineering, Final year, College of Engineering Guindy)
Sushrut Vinayak (B.Tech Information Technology, Final year, College of Engineering Guindy)
GT: How did you land such an internship and how was the interview process?
Sushrut: The entire process was through CUIC, of course. Companies kept coming for recruitment and Citi was the 3rd or 4th company to visit our campus. They went through the regular process of CUIC, where the companies come and conduct various sets of tests to analyse people. That’s pretty much how we landed up there.
Srihari: He pretty much summed it up. It’s the exact same process that we follow for all other companies. Initially, we had an online round after which we were called for the interviews.
GT: Have you been targeting Citicorp in particular, since the beginning of the internship season or was it the same as all the other companies you attended?
Srihari: It wasn’t about targeting any companies. It was more about wanting to improve myself in problem solving, which is required in the real world, wherever you go and whichever company you go to. I was open to any company and it so happened that I landed in Citicorp.
Sushrut: I had a similar experience as well. To be brutally honest, I was looking for any company that I would get on my first attempt. It wasn’t specifically a choice here. Before Citi we had, Arcesium, SAP Labs, and Amazon come in the middle of the season. Citi was not my target company, in fact, I didn’t even know there was a company called Citi; most companies were new to me. After the first test went well, I thought to myself that I should crack this internship.
GT: What do you think made yourselves stand out from others in the selection process?
Sushrut: With respect to my experience, I felt like it was mostly because of my ability to communicate. I have a piece of advice for people applying for internships. The first online test round is the hardest part of the selection process. After that, it mostly relies on your communication skills and how you express yourself, along with what you have put in your resume. My standout feature was, I had done an internship in college in Neural Networks and Natural Language Processing. That helped me talk for a long time during the interview. The activities I participated in during college by joining a lot of clubs also helped with this. I think that would have been my standout feature.
Srihari: I would agree with Sushrut. The first round is all about technical questions and you need to practice for them. My technical interview went on for 45 minutes, more than the scheduled time. I was questioned a lot on whatever I felt were my strengths. They asked a lot of questions on problem solving, even though I was expecting a bit of DBMS and OS. Just as Sushrut said, the one thing I would urge all people to improve upon is communication skills. Especially in the HR round, what they look for is how bold you are and how well you gel with others. This is because moving as a team is very important in the industry, which is also why communication skills play a very vital role. You need to have a story behind whatever you have mentioned in your resume be able to elaborate upon it. Even though this is not an onsite interview where body language is also a factor, the way you present yourself online your ability to make an impact in a short period is very crucial.
GT: Besides the hard work we put in, do you think luck plays a role in getting the internships?
Srihari: I would agree with that. To a certain extent, luck plays a vital role for sure. Despite how much hard work people put in, there is always a bit of luck involved.
I won’t say luck is not involved at all; you do need a bit of it. However, hard work will take you a long way.
Sushrut: I agree with that. The part where luck comes into play is when you look at a particular question and the first approach you try happens to be the correct approach. In most of the programming questions, you can go about it in different approaches. In most of the tests, it is only after the test that we realize the correct approach. When you get the correct approach in the first attempt for a question, you’ll have more time for other questions. That is the extent of luck’s involvement in the selection process in my opinion.
GT: Could you brief us on the project that you worked on?
Sushrut: The project I worked on briefly was based on making a job scheduler, or job automation. Making systems wake up on time, go to sleep on time, and distribute the load accordingly. These are some of the samples we did, before entering the main project. Because of the Non-Disclosure Agreement, I can’t go much into the details of that one.
Srihari: I dealt with a number of different things. During the 8 weeks, I got myself involved in many different areas and learned a lot of stuff from each one. In general, being strong with your fundamentals will help you to a large extent. Whatever I learned at the enterprise level, is nothing more than an application of what we learn in college. So having a good foundation will make things go much smoother. You can learn the technologies needed for the internship, along with the flow of the internship, but having a good foundation will help.
GT: Would you like to work as a full-time employee at Citi someday?
Srihari: I am happy to work at Citi. As a fresher, what I focus upon is the knowledge I receive and the competitive environment in which I get to apply it. Citi does satisfy those checkboxes and I feel it’s a good place to move in as a fresher.
Sushrut: I feel the same too. When you step inside a new tech environment, you are very unfamiliar with what’s going on. As Srihari said, I was very blank for the first few days. They talk about a lot of terminologies that you wouldn’t have heard of during your time in college, and I was confused about them. However, you will have a set of people who’ll comfort and explain them to you and they’ll help you throughout. That’s one reason why I would like to pursue a full-time career at Citi. They provide a friendly, competitive environment where there is no pressure to do stuff alone. You’ll have a lot of people who’ll help you when you face obstacles.
GT: How was your work from home experience?
Sushrut: I would have loved it if it would have been an offline internship. But I didn’t face problems in my work from home environment. We had complete support from the tech team all the time and fortunately didn’t face any connectivity issues. The only thing which made it a bit hard is that you need to be a bit self-motivated. You need to wake up on time because there is no pressure with the working hours. You don’t have to step into an office, so the entire burden of finishing the work falls into your hands. Some people start working at 5 pm and work until 4 am. They are flexible with their working hours. In the urge to work in different hours, you must not fall into the trap of it because the work will keep piling up. That’s one thing I learned during my first week, but I got accustomed to it quickly.
Srihari: I was looking forward to going to the office and working as well. While I am disappointed that missed that experience, they still gave us a very good experience. I faced one major challenge, which is collaborating with your interns and getting to know them. I didn’t have any co-interns so I had to make an effort to socialize with people. Another thing was the technical difficulties; I faced numerous IT issues. While the tech team was always there to help, I had to constantly seek their help. Anyway, it was fun but it could have been better if it was an offline internship.
GT: Could you tell us about a time when you successfully dealt with a difficult situation during your internship?
Srihari: Initially we didn’t have a lot of pressure. They allowed us to gel in and see what was happening. I felt pressure mainly during the last phase of the internship period, where we had to get the job done on time. That’s when a lot of IT issues started to come up. I faced numerous technical difficulties with the frameworks I had, but they helped me with the issues and helped me to finish the work on time. My advice is to be curious, only those who ask their doubts will get the answers they desicer.
Sushrut: I would agree with Srihari. The last 2 weeks of the internship, were the most pressure-filled sessions of the internship. I had a co-intern, and we had a total of 8 managers to satisfy. They all gave different feedbacks and we had to get them all on a common ground and explain things to them. We did face a lot of technical issues which were errors that couldn’t be solved with Google’s help alone. Even the managers used to sit with us and analyze our errors; one of mine took 8 working days to resolve.
GT: Do you have any tips for your juniors who might be listening to this interview, to achieve the same heights as you?
Sushrut: We did a very humble job, I presume. One thing I would stress on is to be very confident about what you know. During the internship period, do not hesitate to ask questions, even the most trivial ones. In the interview side of things, only put things that you are confident of in the resume. If you can talk about something for about 6 minutes without repeating information, then it’s valid to put in your resume. They’ll drill into your resume and if you put fancy stuff like machine learning you have to justify your knowledge and expertise in those fields to them. That’s what advice would be.
Srihari: Sushrut pretty much summed everything up. One more general piece of advice is, try to explore a lot of things. Now we have very little pressure to explore things, but as you move into your career, you’ll have a lot of responsibilities and pressure. So, be curious and explore a lot of new things.
GT: What do you think about this series of Intern Diaries by Guindy Times?
Srihari: Right from my first year, I anticipate for Intern Diaries every time. I didn’t miss out on any of the editions. It gave me a lot of insight and hearing from your college seniors is way more satisfying than reading anonymous blog posts. I thank the Guindy Times for enriching me with this series for the last three years. Now I feel really happy to be a part of this.
Sushrut: Last year was a very tough year for most of us. We weren’t used to studying from home and there was a general lack of motivation for studying or doing anything productive. However, I never missed any episodes of Intern Diaries. Intern Diaries was one of the starting points which gave me the thrust I needed to prepare for the internships. It gave me a lot of confidence going forward.
The Guindy Times thanks Srihari and Sushrut for their valuable time and wishes them all the best in their future endeavours.