Hello everyone, I am a junior undergraduate student here at IIT Kanpur. I am majoring in mechanical engineering, and my interests lie in dynamic systems, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. I have penned down my experience during the SPO intern season and some tips given to us by our seniors.
I am currently interning with Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories as a technical intern.
I prepared software, data science, techno-managerial, and core mechanical profiles. I had previously done a project as a part of SURGE and a project in machine learning under BCS, IITK. I was majorly interested in data science profiles, to be honest, and my inclination towards the same was much higher than my core mechanical profile :) In the institute, I was a Manager for the Research Wing, Academics and Career Council.
So, I started exploring different domains right after my first year. I gave a shot at coding and liked it. I was highly fascinated by data science and kept exploring it by making submissions on Kaggle, understanding various notebooks already present there, doing projects under SnT, and doing some self-projects with the help of friends. After my second year, I did SURGE under Professor Ishan Sharma. Although it did not progress much in the given two months, I gained a genuine interest in dynamic systems and developed a tiny stake in mechanical engineering. Due to my managerial role at AnC, I was also heavily inclined toward techno-managerial positions.
Resources that I used during my preparation
I was focusing on Techno-Managerial, Data Science, Software, and Core profiles in the same order of preference; hence, the preparation level decreased in the same order.
I practiced a lot of GDs because that is where I felt I was pretty weak. I also familiarized myself with product supply terms like B2B (business to business), 3P (3rd party), etc. Other than that, one needs to revise their departmental courses as well, ESO201, ESO202, ESO203, TA201/202, ME231, etc. (I can only cite mechanical courses)
I brushed up on the basics of ML from the Andrew NG course notes on Coursera. Most of my projects were in the data science domain, so I prepared them by checking for any loopholes or how we could have improved the efficiency of our results. The one thing I did not do was look for its practical applications in various disciples, which I believe was why I got rejected from AB InBev in the technical round.
I majorly practised through LeetCode and Codeforces contests to improve CP and did DSA practice from GeeksforGeek and LeetCode. Seniors also stressed focusing on concepts like OOPs, DBMS and networking, so prepare it well through CS courses or some GATE resources.
I did not revise my departmental courses much (ironic!) because I knew my low CPI wouldn’t lead to good shortlists in the core profile. For courses, seniors told us to focus primarily on the practical applications of what we studied. For instance, the practical application of thermodynamics (ESO201), where and how the Rankine cycle is used, fluid dynamics (ME231), working of pumps, all about gears (TA201/202), and a few ‘bazzarbatti’ (ESO203 - introduction to electrical engineering) as well. ESO202 will also be crucial, mechanics of solids, so do revise them well. In my case, however, before Dr. Reddy’s technical interview, I changed ESO201 (thermodynamics), basics of engines (dunno why), and mass transfer specifics. In the technical test for mechanical students in Dr. Reddy’s, there were questions from ESO202 (MOS), Manufacturing, and ESO201 (thermodynamics).
Seniors suggested Brainstellar and 50 challenging problems. However, I couldn’t devote much time to it. I was simultaneously doing the basics of CAT, so the DILR and Quant section helped me in the aptitude section.
That is all for my preparation, which was random and all over the place.
Group Discussion Preparation
Filled with enthusiasm in April, I decided to form a group for Group Discussion and added all the friends I knew who were aiming for techno-managerial in it. And then, the group remained inactive for a month. We seriously started with moderated GDs after our fourth-semester end sem exams. So, we’d ask seniors interning with techno-managerial firms to intercede with our GDs. Gavish, Arjun, and Shloka were some seniors who helped us with the GDs. Learning where you went wrong in a mock GD is crucial and how you could have improved your points. Seniors also provide an individual review, which helps immensely. Apart from our collective efforts, AnC also organized weekly GDs with seniors, Suyash, Kartik, Harshit, and many others, gave us wonderful time breaks on how to structure a GD (intro-discussion-conclusion)
We kept track of each GD, which led to a significant improvement by the end of the month. I feel that 5-6 good GDs are enough to prepare.
Here’s a repository containing some mock GDs and their analysis.
Interview Questions and other insights
Technical Test: It comprised three sections, the first one contained the basic CAT DILR type questions, the following section had CS basics like polymorphism, and yada yada yada (dunno much about it xD), and the last area contained two coding questions (CP types).
I was shortlisted for the GD along with around 35 other students.
Group Discussion: The topic for our GD was “The perception of Beer in India and what can we do to improve it” It was during the GD that I found out that AB InBev was a company associated with beer. So always do your research and company background check beforehand. The GD went quite well, in my opinion, and I was shortlisted for the technical interview along with 15 others (cheers xD)
Interview: It was a bizarre interview because they kept switching between technical and HR questions. So, prepare HR questions in advance (why you want to join AB InBev etc.) They asked me about the correlation between mechanical engineering and data science, which I could hardly answer. If your significance and interests differ, you can expect such questions; again, prepare well in advance. They also asked me about how the Indian Government could use the machine learning project that I had done.
All in all, I would say that they were checking how clear I was about my interests and how serious I was in pursuing them. I was very nervous and underconfident throughout. I wasn’t selected for the internship (sed)
Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories
Technical Test: There were analytical questions (CAT DILR types) and core questions based on simple thermodynamics and MOS.
I was shortlisted for the GD along with around 55 other students.
Group Discussion: The GD was very technical, unlike the GDs I had practiced. So, for such a GD, think and structure your points carefully to avoid any loopholes. The topic may look complicated, but the arguments were based on elementary scientific principles (for example, surface area, laws of thermodynamics, etc.)
I countered a fellow student’s point by arguing that using a propellor for non-newtonian and highly viscous fluids is not a very good idea as the friction caused between the liquid and the surface of the propellor would lead to wastage of energy. I am not sure if I am 100% correct. It sort of steered the first half of the discussion in a specific direction. However, for the homogenization problem, I could not give any input.
I was shortlisted for the interview along with 20 others.
Technical Interview: The interviewee was a Ph.D. in molecular science or something (a very high profile senior xD). He started with my introduction and then asked me why I, a mechanical engineer, would be interested in joining a pharma company. So, do your research about the company's domain before the interview. Then he quizzed me on my resume and focussed solely on my SURGE project, which included a lot of simulations using LAMMPS and OVITO. He then asked me how such simulations could be used in a pharma company. Hence, you must be very clear on your projects, anything and everything you write on your resume, and its practical applications. He then asked me a bit about the robotics experience and a couple of questions based on the robotics project I had done. Further, he asked me why I wanted to join Dr. Reddy’s, to which I replied with enthusiasm about their excellent work culture, the various opportunities one gets to work on, etc. Prepare such HR questions before so that you appear confident in your interviews.
I was selected for the HR round afterward.
HR Round: It took place after around 15 mins of the technical round. I wasn’t prepared at all. It started with my introduction, where I come from, and what I liked the most about Odisha (my homeland and birthplace). He then asked me why I had such a low CPI, to which I replied logically. He thanked me for my time, and the HR round was over. Do prepare such questions beforehand. The only thing they probably check in the HR round is how confident you are and how good you will be at work in a team. So be confident, be cool and be calm.
I finally secured an internship with Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories and got the confirmation mail in an hour <3
Stress and Anxiety during the Intern season
I was pretty stressed out during the entire intern season. All of my friends got an internship on Day 1 itself. I was pretty happy for them, but it indeed led me to pressure myself into thinking that I won’t be able to get an internship. I was furious at CEM students (which is ethically wrong) as they had this plethora of opportunities while we, the non-CEM students, were struggling to get to the interviews. And in the case of the low CPI, I doubted my choice of taking up mechanical engineering at IIT Kanpur. I had a mental breakdown in front of my family once, telling them I couldn’t take it anymore. The pressure of managing ten courses, preparing for an intern drive, and juggling projects is just too much for me.
My father asked me to take it easy during the intern season and not stress out much. However, I wouldn’t stop. So much so that I wouldn’t talk to anyone apart from my department peeps. My friends were worried sick, and a few days later, I got a box of chocolates from (who else) Dhriti. I talked to them about my fears and what was causing the anxiety. The thing is, your close friends will understand, and they will be there for you. Each one of them was there for me and motivated me to a great extent.
The seniors were the perfect people to call and cry in front of (not literally). I would call Gavish and rant about the intern drive, then text Pushpesh and Sameer about getting rejected from an interview. I troubled the OPCs beyond the limit, including Amisha and Utkarsh.
My friends have been a constant moral support, telling me what and what not to speak in an interview, last-minute topic brush-ups, and everything. Thanks to Harsh, Diya, Aryan, Dhriti, and Parth (of course!)
Advice for students sitting for an internship next year
Low CPI: If you have a particularly low CPI like mine, you must be patient. Wait for those with high CPI to get away, and then you will have a good chance of getting shortlisted for interviews. CPI is essential in getting shortlisted but after the shortlist, it is all about your efforts, skills, knowledge, and communication skills.
Branch Restrictions: If you are from a circuital branch (CSE, EE, MTH), then sit back and keep filling the flood of applications that will be pouring in. However, you need to be patient and resilient if you are not from CEM. The big tech giants won’t open up for you, and even if they do, there is a high chance that they will keep a high CPI as a shortlist factor. So don’t lose hope; these restrictions don’t occur at the time of placements (except for a few companies, the rest are open to all the departments)
Have faith in yourself and be well prepared. SPO internship drive is a very random process, in my opinion. You may be a good match for a company and yet get rejected, so do not fret about it. Keep going with the preparation. Be patient; not everything needs to happen in two days. Your ultimate goal is to secure an internship, which matters the most.
Another important thing is talking to seniors, not just about preparation but also about any fears, doubts, or anxiety you might face. They understand all these things and are there to listen to you. Keep in touch with your friends, and no one can cheer you up how they can. It gives a boost to your confidence.
It will all work out in the end for sure.
All the best!
Edited By: Gauravi Chandak