This is Parth, a Y19 from the Department of Aerospace Engineering. Tbh, I was really confused if I should write this blog down or not( I’m super lazy now), but finally decided to write it down, as it was some of these blogs that motivated me when I was low and helped me a lot, and therefore decided to contribute my bit. In this blog, I’m gonna cover my Journey from Aerospace Engineering at IITK to an SDE Intern at Amazon, which then changed to an Applied Scientist Intern role. Before starting, I tried to look at some of the pre-published blogs to get a basic gist of what to write, and I was frankly surprised when I kinda found out that all of the blogs contained internships that had been obtained from the SPO. A Y18 once said to me- ‘SPO is Overrated, as its the easiest way to get a summer intern, but always remember it’s not the only way’. In this blog, I’m gonna cover how I cracked a Non-SPO Intern at an MnC, and try to give a basic guide to all the peeps on how they can try to trespass the barriers(if they wish).
My Background Before the Intern Season
Ngl, my background kinda surprises even me sometimes, ofc it’s a contribution of both luck and your work, but tbh, the luck thing can be minimized to a great extent. I started exploring the college after my first semester, gained some interest in electronics, and got involved with the electronics club. I soon found myself campaigning for the SnT GenSec during the winters, and got involved with the Web Division. That gave me the opportunity to learn full-stack web development, and I simultaneously joined the AnC Council as one of the two first Web Secretaries of the Council. These opportunities enhanced my development skills a lot, and simultaneously gave me things to write on my resume. That was around the time when we came home for the mid-sem breaks, and the seemingly unending wave of Covid started. I tried to explore what to do at home and decided to start learning Machine learning. It kinda fascinated me to a large extent, and the free Coursera subscription provided by the college just provided the perfect opportunity. It was around that time that I was contacted by one of the seniors, who was searching for a student or two to build a website for an International Conference they were organizing. I agreed immediately, considering I didn’t have much else to do. The website team consisted of 2 Y19s and a Y17, and we eventually became good friends. The Y17 was undertaking a project in ML under Prof. Ashutosh Modi and invited me to join the project. I agreed, considering that I had been learning ML at the same time, and it was just the perfect opportunity. The project was really interesting, and I learned a lot from it. A few days after doing the project, we received a campus webmail from AnC for an ML intern at a USA-based startup. I applied for it, as the requirements matched the projects which I had just completed, and after a few days, I was selected for it. And yes, that’s the point, when the domino fell, and when the first falls, the others fall almost effortlessly. I was then kinda involved in other internships and projects till the summer of 2021, and this gave me plenty of content to write down on my resume. It was during this time that the seniors, both at SnT and AnC, helped me a hell lot. They were always there to guide me throughout, and I owe them really so much. They taught me the importance of stepping outside my comfort zone, and stretching myself to the limits - ‘If you can’t push yourself to the limits, you’ll never get to know them.’ So given all this, I was pretty confident that Data Science was the field in which I wanna pursue my career, and more specifically Indistiral ML Research, as I always wanted to create something novel, which sees the light of day in the production. All my experience till this point in time had given me confidence that I’d land somewhere or the other in the Intern season.
The Intern Season
One important thing which people usually forget is that SPO is not the only way to get an intern at a ‘Good Company’ ( the parameters are subjective, ergo can’t go much into that). A large number of companies host many hackathons as well as off-campus hiring to recruit interns, therefore I believe that people should keep regular tabs on the hackathons being conducted, as well as have an active profile on LinkedIn, and connect with people. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of connecting with people. “Opportunities are manufactured,” says Biz Stone, and I really believe they are. So coming back, I had participated in a hackathon by Amazon named ‘Hackon with Amazon’, along with my two other teammates from Y19(Shubh Agrawal- #Kholu and Gurbaaz Singh Nandra, Y19 Senator - #FlyWithBaaz). The first round of this hackathon was a DS round comprising 3 questions over 180 minutes, and each member of the team had to do it. After we were selected for the second phase, we had to build our prototype of the solution. My earlier experience in full-stack development and ML came in handy, and we made a decent enough working prototype of our solution. After a few days, we came to know that we were in the top 50 teams that participated in the hackathon(though couldn’t make it to the finals). A few days later, we were offered a PPI by the recruitment team, which meant I only had to clear one round of interviews to get the Summer SDE role at Amazon. I never did want an SDE role, and I had been in contact with some people at Amazon on LinkedIn, and they told me that an Internal Switch was the easiest option to switch to the Applied Scientist role at Amazon, and therefore I thought that I’d follow suit. I had done some coding practice from Codeforces Archives(A2oJ), and that really helped me a hell lot, it builds up one’s aptitude for CP from the ground 0, and gradually raises the bar. Finally came the D’day. The interview was scheduled around day 1 of the intern season, while Amazon for on-campus recruitment arrives often late. The interviewer said that I had to solve two questions in a time frame of 1 hour. I was kinda tired on that day, considering that the previous day was completely involved in the interview with GS and that I had an upcoming interview with Nomura the next day. The first question that the interviewer asked me was on Graphs, we had to detect cycles in it, although I gotta hand it to him, he framed the question really nicely, but it was intuitive. The other question was based on DP, a very simple one. I was able to solve both of them. Next to the next day, I received confirmation from the SPO that I had received an offer letter from Amazon, and I was really happy, considering the circumstances and other things.
My General Advice to the Peeps
The most important piece of advice which I believe that I can give to anyone is that - “Connect with People”. Be it your seniors, alums, or anyone who you find worth connecting with, and ask them questions, because if you wanna manufacturing opportunities, then you need to have as much information as possible. I truly believe, IITK is filled with LEGENDS. Seniors, alums as well as people in the same batch, there’s soo much you can learn from them. The other thing is, whenever you’re low in life, always try to find a silver lining, and go for it. Even if you can’t see it, try to create it, you’ll always be able to find it down. This was my anecdote on the Internship season, and tbh, I really feel it’s ‘overhyped’. If you wanna know more about any of the things, be it off-campus hiring or prepping for the ML role, or any philosophical discussions, I’m open to it, feel free to contact me. Hopefully, if the college opens, you can find me at my favorite place, RM 3rd floor, or maybe at one of the eating places, otherwise, you can always contact me or my Bois(who’re always ready to mingle xD) on Messenger.