Hey everyone! I am Jahnvi Tripathi, a Y19 UG from the Material Science and Engineering department. I am currently interning at American Express, or Amex as it's generally called. After months of procrastination and multiple attempts at writing this, I am with my two cents on the internship preparation.
First off, a bit of a background about myself, I joined the institute with Chemistry as my major but later changed my department to Material Science and Engineering after the second semester. I interned at an ed-tech start-up, Doubtnut, during my first year summers and did an online web development course
during that time. I did two self-projects. The first one was Sorting Visualizer, which was based on web development and the other one was a finance-based project. I targeted analytics and finance-related profiles, so my preparation account would be based on that.
I began preparing for the internship season two weeks after the endsems. I hadn’t done the data structures and algorithms course, so I had very little or no idea about DSA. But because coding tests are an integral part of the screening process, I had to start from somewhere. So I began with ESC101, solved problems on Hackerrank, and moved to Leetcode by the end. Because I was not preparing for software roles, I did not do coding very extensively but focused on the skills I needed for the roles I was aiming at. Although I didn’t prepare for aptitude tests specifically, I gave some mock tests on Prepleaf. For Probability and Statistics, I solved the book “Fifty Challenging Problems in Probability” and the problems given on Interviewbit. Learning from my mistakes, I would advise, don’t just focus on solving problems in probability but going through the concepts and important theorems as well. The interviewer might ask you the concept you used while solving a problem. You can go through MSO201 slides or use the various resources available online. Now coming to puzzles, they are an integral part of the interviews, and you mustn’t miss them while focussing on other things. I started with puzzles in July beginning and solved as many problems as I could on Brainstellar and Interviewbit. And trust me on this, you are going to get asked about the same puzzles in your interviews or their modified versions, and solving a puzzle correctly can really boost your confidence.
I won’t be talking in detail about “How to make your resume,” but a few things I would recommend doing are, 1.) start making the resume well in advance. 2.) You must at least have an idea of the content you’re going to include in the final copy one month before the submission deadline.
It would really help if you have one or two projects or internships relevant to the profile you’re aiming at that can be discussed during the interview. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a project under a prof, an SnT project, or a self-project. If it’s relevant and justifies your skills, it works.
The selection process
Before Amex, I had given interviews for Proctor and Gamble (P&G) and Goldman Sachs. First, I’ll briefly go through both of these interviews and then my Amex interview in detail.
P&G had a psychometric test before shortlisting, and the interview was mainly HR-based. It was a kind of group interview with two other candidates. Questions asked were –
1.) What is your most significant achievement so far?
2.) What is the biggest challenge you faced till now, and how did you tackle it?
3.) Have you ever taken a creative approach to solving any of your problems? How did it make you feel?
Goldman Sachs test had two parts – general aptitude and quant questions and three coding problems. The first one was easy, the second one was somewhere between easy to medium level, and the last one was a bit hard.
I could only give one round of interviews. It started with a basic introduction and discussion related to my projects. The interviewer then asked me if I would prefer software-related or quant-related questions. I chose Quant. He then asked me two probability questions, one easy and one hard. He also asked me to name and explain the concept I used to solve the hard one, which I couldn’t tell because I had not prepared the theory properly:( After that, he asked me about the famous “Ant in a cubical room” puzzle.
Now coming to Amex, again, the test had two parts – Aptitude and ML. The second part was optional. After that, there were two rounds of interviews; in the first round, the interviewer asked me for 5 puzzles, and 2 of them were directly from Brainstellar, the third one was a little modified version of a puzzle from Interviewbit, and the other two were new, but because I could correctly solve the first two, it gave me the confidence to solve the following three too. After this, he asked me two probability questions, both easy to medium level. Then we had a discussion over credit cards (because Amex is a credit card company) and how the business model of Amex is different from that of VISA and Mastercard. We also discussed my projects in detail. In the second round, I was asked two easy probability questions, one guesstimate, and a credit card fraud risk analysis-related question. For the guesstimate, I was asked to find out the approximate number of private schools in my hometown.
Prepare your introduction and resume (especially the projects and internships) well so that you don’t hesitate while speak at the beginning of the interview.
Don’t ignore the puzzles, they can really make or break your interview.
Read about the company, what they do, and read in detail about their products and services.
Don’t shy away from asking for hints while solving the questions; don’t say a straight no if you can’t think of an answer. It’s perfectly fine if you ask for a bit of time to think.
For Amex specifically, practice a few guesstimates before the interview.
You will hear people say a lot of different things about the probability of you getting an internship based on your department and CPI but don’t get scared by the stats, believe in yourself because your journey is not going to be the same as everyone else’s.