Interviewee: E. Asmitha Shrree – Intern at Morgan Stanley
Interviewer: Shreya Elizabeth Franklin
GT: Today we have with us Asmitha Shrree, currently in the fourth year of the IT department. She is a diligent and energetic individual, who has plenty of experience in coding and app development. Owing to her remarkable skills and dedication, she has successfully completed her internship at Morgan Stanley. Welcome, Asmitha!
Asmitha: Thank you!
GT: Asmitha, can you please narrate to us your journey to CEG? Have you always known that Information Technology was the best choice or the right one?
Asmitha: To be honest, like everybody else in school, I didn’t really concentrate on Computer Science that much, because it seemed like PCM was the most important. As a consequence, I was also not scoring properly in it and didn’t get confidence in it. Choosing CS or IT was a decision I took on the spot. People usually talk a lot about the opportunities available in the IT field and that's why I ended up taking it, it wasn’t because I was passionate about it. In fact, I was scared that I might not be able to do well in it. That apprehension was always there. But after spending enough time on Computer Science in college, I realised that I actually started to like it. So, it indeed turned out to be a positive experience.
GT: What is the right time to start preparing for the internships and which particular areas should be our strong points?
Asmitha: A lot of students, even from my batch, don’t know that we have off-campus internship opportunities. Even before you start the third year, companies will start arriving for campus placements. Personally, during the lockdown, I explored LinkedIn posts and found that there were a lot of opportunities even for second-year summer internships. I started preparing for this in the month of December in my second year. Along with preparing, I also became aware of all opportunities available. There are a lot of mentorship programs that you can join where you learn a lot. I joined them and I started understanding what kind of resources I should be using for the preparation.
I also have friends, who started preparing two or three months before the companies were announced, and they also did pretty well, so it depends on what the students are aiming for. I would say 2 or 3 months before the internship would be a good time to start.
With regard to the strong point, I would say that Data Structures and Algorithms is the most important. You need to be thorough with everything starting from Arrays to Dynamic Programming, Graphs, and Trees. Learn the time and space complexities properly, and you should be able to start from the Brute force approach and then finally arrive at the optimal solution. Apart from DSA, the core topics you should concentrate on are DBMS, OS, and OOPS. This is true for any company you are preparing for.
I would suggest everyone to pay attention in class when these topics are being taught, as it does help a lot.
Your resume also plays a crucial role. You should be thorough with all the Tech Stacks and Projects listed on your resume, as you will be extensively questioned by the interviewers on those areas. You should be able to answer questions such as - why you chose a particular Tech Stack, what are the advantages of choosing that Tech Stack over the others, etc. You must be proficient in all the programming languages that you mention on your resume as well.
GT: That was very insightful, thank you! Moving on, how was the road leading to your internship? Were there any ups and downs?
Asmitha: There were two mentorship programs that I joined during the lockdown period, one was called Codess Café and the other was called Women Who Code Delhi. The mentors in these programs were people who had completed their internships at top companies or worked in those companies as software developers. With their guidance, I understood what I have to focus on. On campus, the companies started coming around August in my third year. Since my semester hadn’t started by then, I could prepare well.
With regard to ups and downs, I’m a person who generally gets stressed very easily. Applying to internships continuously and not getting shortlisted made me very sad and I was worried about whether I wouldn’t get an internship at all. Apart from the pressure that I put on myself, there were no other obstacles that I actually faced. I believe that if you put in the hard work, it will definitely pay off at the right time. Even if you don’t get the internship, you will definitely get the placement. The preparation is definitely going to be useful.
GT: Tell us about your interview process at Morgan Stanley. What did they expect from you?
Asmitha: After the online assessment, I had two interviews. The first one was purely technical. With regard to Morgan Stanley, apart from the topics that I mentioned earlier, it is also important to know High-Level System Design. My first interview lasted about one hour, and a major part of it was devoted to a System Design question. After that, I was given a DSA question and had to code it on an online compiler, run it and show it to the interviewer. After that, I was asked to solve two questions from Operating Systems.
Within a few hours, I got my call for the Second Interview. The second interview was a Technical and HR round. It started off with questions from my resume and it lasted for about an hour. I would say it is all about communication skills. It’s important that you sound very confident when you’re answering the interviewer. If you don’t know the answer, at least give them your thought process. Keep thinking aloud, so that they know that you’re trying to reach the solution in some way. Don’t hesitate to ask for hints, because sometimes they turn out to be very useful. It will never turn out to be a disadvantage for you, as asking for help is a very important quality
GT: How did you feel when you got the internship? Were you elated or were you just satisfied?
Asmitha: I was extremely happy when I got the internship because as I said, I had put a lot of pressure on myself for preparing for this. I also felt relieved as I didn’t have to practice with that much vigour anymore. This internship opportunity was in Bangalore. Since I haven’t spent time in any hostel away from home, I was really excited to go to a new city, explore it and live on my own.
GT: As we know, Morgan Stanley is a financial services company. Being an IT scholar, what were the roles and responsibilities assigned to you during the internship?
Asmitha: Any intern who joins Morgan Stanley will be assigned an Intern Manager and a buddy from your team, who will be there to help you throughout your project. Before the internship starts, you will be given a bunch of courses to do. However, what exactly your project is, you will know only once you join the firm and when your internship officially starts.
I was assigned a Data Analysis project. It was a standalone project; it didn’t depend on anything else that the team was doing. So, I was able to work on my own, at my own pace. With respect to roles and responsibilities, I just had to keep updating my Intern Manager and my buddy about my progress. If I got stuck with anything, I would ask them for help, and they would help me out. I had to attend many training sessions, where I was taught new technologies, and also helped us learn about Morgan Stanley as a firm. Side by side, I had to keep working on my project as well.
GT: How was the work culture at Morgan Stanley? Have you faced any challenges during your time there?
Asmitha: The work culture at Morgan Stanley was extremely good. All the people to whom I talked over there told me that they have a good work-life balance. I could actually experience it in the two months I was there. There was no cause for me to get stressed out at any point in time. The campus was very beautiful. Within the campus, they had games like table tennis and foosball, and there were also provisions to go for walks in free time.
I actually had my End semester exam, right in the middle of my internship due to the COVID lockdown. I had to go in the middle of my internship to write my end-semester exams offline. The company and my team were very accommodative, and they let me concentrate on my exams when they were happening. They didn’t put any pressure on me to work on my project during my exams, as they wanted me to do well in my exams as well. There is no concept of Sir or Ma’am in Morgan Stanley, so there was no feeling of intimidation due to seniority that I actually felt. I could openly ask for help whenever I wanted to anybody, even if they are not a part of my team.
With respect to the problems, I would say that I faced some difficulty in the beginning with respect to operating within the company's network since it was a bit different. In my case, all that I had to use was Python. But even the basic Python installation works differently in the Morgan Stanley network.
Though I had problems with the installation initially, because the internship was offline, I was able to voice out my concerns to others and get help from my peers. I was able to sort out the issues eventually and after that, it was a pretty smooth journey
GT: What advice would you like to give your juniors regarding internships?
Asmitha: Firstly, it's very important that you don't take any rejection personally, as this process of selection is extremely unpredictable. During my year, there were a few companies that shortlisted people even before writing the online assessment. The fact is that we don't know on what basis the company does the final shortlisting. If you take it too personally and let it slow you down, then you won't be able to concentrate on the next interview that you are going to give. Just trust the process and go with the flow.
GT: Thank you Asmitha, it was a pleasure having you with us here today!
Asmitha: Thank you so much!