I’m Gavish Saraf, a Y18 in the department of Mechanical Engineering. I’m writing this blog, not as a guide to cracking the summer placements, but, as a record of my experiences. Some of the readers might find them useful in which case I’d be thoroughly elated. In the course of this write-up, I’ll touch upon my motivation for applying for specific profiles, preparation journey, selection process and some general advice.
(For those of you interested in detailed ITC and HUL application and interview experiences, feel free to look at this document.)
YOUR PERSONALITY IN TEXT!
That’s right! Your resume is your personality in text format. Let me share the key points on my resume at the time of application. I had a 9+ CPI. I had done one departmental project by then. The best PoR on my resume was that of the Manager, Research Wing, AnC Council. I did not have any internships by then which was my fault and if you have the opportunity, you should do one in the summers before the 5th semester.
Here I would like to point out that resume making process is very tedious and at the same time extremely important. Start preparing your master resumes ASAP and get them reviewed by as many seniors as you can. Polish the document as much as possible. It took me 18 iterations before I could confidently settle on the final resume.
WHAT’S MY TRUE CALLING?
This question still haunts me. It will probably haunt you as well if you are as normal as me. Before diving into the preparation process, you will have to decide what profile(s) to apply for. The ideal way to do this will be to either decide upon or rule out some of the profiles by doing relevant internships in the first two years. However, if, like me, you too did not do any internships in the past, then, your best bet will be to contact as many seniors as you can. Understand the nuances of various profiles through their experiences and try to establish if that profile suits your liking. Participating in club activities, student bodies and projects is also a great way to gauge your liking or suitability to various fields.
In my case, talking to many seniors, working with AnC, and engaging with friends in preparation-related activities helped me realize the right options for myself. I realized that software and finance-related profiles are not for me. So that left me with two choices Techno-managerial and Quantitative interns. Working with AnC caused me to develop a liking for the managerial aspects of any task; hence, techno-managerial interns offered by ITC, HUL, and P&G became my first preference.
THE GRIND TIME
Now that you have decided on your profile, you need to find out what to prepare and how to do that. That can be done by contacting seniors who cracked the internship processes of your target companies or by reviewing the preparation material available on the SPO website. It is important to talk to as many people as possible because every company that fits your target profile will have a slightly different selection procedure than the rest and hence there will be some company-specific prep involved.
Since I was going to appear only for Quant and techno-managerial profiles, I prepared accordingly.
For the quant, I studied MSO201 notes and solve many puzzles from multiple sources. I found the most engaging puzzles in the book titled “50 challenging problems in probability”. I also solved the problems on Brainstellar and those given in the youtube videos by TedEd. Since most of the quant companies also involve a little bit of coding in their tests, I practiced standard questions from Interviewbit and GeeksForGeeks. However, since I did not like coding that much, my practice was mostly superficial.
For the techno-managerial roles, I was aware of ITC and HUL only. P&G was unexpected, yet, a welcome addition to the group. Thus, my prep mostly focuses on the process of the first two companies. Since both of them are known to be GD intensive, I attended all the mock GDs organized by AnC to get the flavour of what actual GDs are like. I also formed a prep group along with a few friends and we met regularly to practice GDs and to discuss HR questions. GD topics for practice came mostly from the SPO’s preparation resources. For case-based GD, I used Hitbullseye to find relevant cases for practice.
RUN UP TO THE D-DAY
Around 20-25 days before day-1 interviews, companies started to appear on the internship application portal. HUL was the very first company to be listed on the portal. ITC and P&G followed closely. The selection procedure for ITC and HUL was very similar. The first step for both was shortlisting based on a resume and an HR questionnaire. The final criteria for shortlisting at this stage were a well-balanced resume and a rigorously answered questionnaire. This round was followed by a GD round in the case of ITC and an on-demand-video-based case interview round for HUL.
The final shortlist for interviews was released on the day before the interview. My interview for ITC and HUL were scheduled back to back within the same hour. Both the companies had one round of interviews only. Having thoroughly prepared for HR questions with my friends, I was not worried about those. To practice the technical questions, I used to stand in front of the mirror and interview myself. This might seem weird but proved to be very effective for me in terms of improving my confidence. I also talked to some seniors on the night before my interviews to get some ideas about the potential interview questions and for much-needed pep talks.
THE JUDGEMENT DAY
On the day of the interviews, I was nervous, not only because I had 2 interviews scheduled, but also because I had to worry a lot about my laptop’s camera, audio quality, and stuff like that. As told by various seniors, the interview for HUL was a stress test. They grilled me on every point of the resume. The ITC interview was much more relaxed, especially after that HUL grilling.
I felt that I had completely bombed the HUL interview and was almost certain that I would not make the cut. For ITC, I thought exactly the opposite. Since both these interviews were conducted on the day before the official day-1, I had to wait for one day for the results.
After 24 mind-numbing hours of waiting, I finally got an offer from HUL.
I had a few “rules” that I followed during the interviews that helped me keep the interview from getting too ugly. It is necessary to greet the interviewers with a smile because the first exchange sets the mood for the rest of the interview. Be clear with what you know and what you don’t. If you encounter a question that you do not know the answer to, try to think about it but do not reply randomly. It is better to confess that you are not aware of that particular topic. And more importantly, try to maintain control of the interview by directing it in such a way that it remains in your safe zone.
CONCLUSION AND GENERAL ADVICE
I honestly feel that the summer placement drive at IITK is a bit overhyped. People give too much mind space to it and end up not enjoying the process. It doesn’t matter if you get a day-1 internship or you do not get an SPO intern at all. What matters is your learning from all the experiences you had in the process. Do not take this internship season as a make or break point of your career. Take it as a new experience, a part of your college life that teaches you a lot of new things.
Be humble if you get an offer on-campus, be patient if you don’t. You need not wait for the right opportunity to come to you. You always have the option to find work out there yourself. Do not settle for a profile that does not excite you or a company whose vision does not resonate with yours just because that was your only option on-campus. And lastly, don’t get too anxious, things eventually will fall in place.
Thank you for reading this far. It was a long one.
In case you need some help or advice and feel that I might be of use, do not hesitate to contact me.
All the Best!!