There are countless investment management companies across the world but DE Shaw is one of a kind, being unique in its approach towards investments and technology. Arjun Krishna, currently a 4th year in the department of Computer science had the unique opportunity to experience the functioning of this mammoth of a firm through the summer of 2017.
Arjun Krishna, has great passion for Computer science, particularly ML. In the summer of 2017 he interned with the renowned investment banking firm, DE Shaw as an analyst. “I liked the analytics profile and wanted to explore it as I had completed a core intern already and wanted a change of subject. In the real world, I saw a lot of anomalies that went against my theoretical beliefs. I want to pursue higher studies to gain some more theoretical vigor, explore some more into robotics and ML keeping close to analytics.”
DE Shaw is an investment management firm. The company makes investments in technology, wind power, real estate, and financial services firms. It is a hedge fund managing assets worth around 40 billion dollars. They invest the money received from people, trying to maximize profits, minimize risks and make more money for the firm and the investors. Arjun Krishna is an analyst in the firm. His work includes getting data sets and analysing to see if they are valuable enough to predict how a particular company or an investment would perform (can’t get into details due to a NDA). Being from an engineering background he didn’t have much financial skill, and as it turned out, he didn’t need a lot of it either.
We always think of the investment banking sector as an elite one, with a lot of buzz and people working under stress for extremely long hours. Arjun says, “The work environment is really different from what the general public notion is, and people are really casual. There is no fixed time between which you have to work, It’s not a strict 9-5 job, but the given job has to be finished within a given deadline. There are no restrictions to finish a particular amount of work in a day or to put in a specific number of hours until you adhere to deadlines. Keeping to deadlines is pretty important. People around are really friendly and the campus is amazing. The practical world is not organised, it is a lot more random than you expect. Things useful in practice are way different when put to use in reality”. Arjun Krishna remarked, “I was taken aback when I saw what I had learned and what he was being applied is not exactly the same. Here, I understand and feel what is actually happening in practice, more than what the theory says or what data I had seen in examples. This kind of an exposure is really valuable.”
In DE Shaw, the analyst profile counts as a non-core one for Computer Science, for that matter any other branch. The firm hires people for two profiles: IT and Financial research. In 2016 only Computer Science and Electrical engineering students were allowed to apply for DE Shaw. They shortlisted a lot of people having good CGPA in general. The First round was a programming round. The programming round went on for an hour and had 3 questions. It was a technical in nature, the questions were of moderate difficulty people who solved 2 out of 3 made it to the next round.
The second round was a group discussion (GD) round. The GD had 10 people, a topic was given, as the name suggests a discussion had to be started by making valid points. “It is important that you put forward your thoughts clearly and don’t raise false points and always have well supported claims. Something in the recent news is an appreciated point. Always research the company before you sit for the interview and connect what they have been doing to the topic and put it forward.” The topic he got was internet of things and future investment areas. “Your points should be powerful. They look for the validity of the points you make and how differently you think. You do not have to always speak something, take a pause and let the other person speak too. You can also encourage a person to speak up if he was trying to say something. They look at how you can contribute to the group and bring the best out of the group too. You should be decent in speaking, don’t stammer a lot, and prepare a bit to speak fluently and you should do well in this round.”
There are no restrictions to finish a particular amount of work in a day or to put in a specific number of hours until you adhere to deadlines.
In the third round, the Personal Interview, you will be asked to walk them through your resume. It is very essential that your resume reflects your interests. Then they ask you some questions, for the IT profile they ask you programming questions and in the Analysis profile questions about data sets and probability are the main focus, some of them are hard, some questions, in his interview were discussed for 20 mins. “Don’t work the problem all by yourself, walk the person through your methodology, keep them in the loop always otherwise you are always working and they are just sitting there. You can take some time think about it and then start telling them about your thought process, they are more interested in your thought process than the final answer. If you are stuck or cannot think of a way to do the problem ask for help instead of just blankly looking at them and thinking about ways to solve the problem, it really leads to nowhere. So be brave and speak up, ask for a hint. This helps you get comfortable with the interviewer. The lesser the time you take to get comfortable with the interviewer the better it is. They are always more interested in your approach and how you think. Apart from this they look for a basic course in economics, a Principles of Economics course should suffice.”
“Day one of the internship interview is the most hectic day. You have to keep moving to different places for different companies. Do have breakfast because you will not get time to have lunch, carry a water bottle and keep copies of your resume as they generally tell you to walk them through your resume.”
Arjun Krishna had interned at a start-up called the Sportscafé in the 2nd year as a backend coder and wrote a lot of the company’s back end code as they were transitioning. He also worked on algorithms on article processing for the company which interested the interviewers. He did a Machine Learning and Data visualization course in relation with data analytics. As he had already done a core intern in his 2nd year he could chose to a non-core intern now. He strongly suggests doing a 2nd year core intern as you get exposed to the real working world, you gain some experience related to your core subjects, you complete the curriculum requirement and can try for a non-core profile. He says, “It is easier to get an intern next year if you have something to put on your resume and the companies are always more interested if you have more experience.” He did not do an intern in the first year and would not really want to push anyone in the first year summer to do an intern. He also did a project intern under a professor after 3rd semester. In the institute, he was only a part of NSS and had no other PoR’s. In his free time he experimented with code bases and did work in deep learning. It worked for him as DE Shaw wasn’t interested in anything apart from the technical skills and basic life skills.
I strongly suggests doing a 2nd year core intern as you get exposed to the real working world and gain some experience related to your core subjects.
All his co-interns were from the CS department, from different IIT’s. Apart from work they went on a lot of trips. They had a 5 day working week and Saturday Sunday was off. There were two 3 day weekends which gave them enough free time to explore places nearby and go around the city. “I did not realize how the two months went by. I had a lot of fun with some amazing people. Hyderabad is a nice city and the DE Shaw campus is great.”
“If you want to work in such a company, don’t let your CG drop, CG does a play a part in getting an internship. Above 8.5 CGPA should be decent, above that it is all fine. Be passionate about the work you do. Identify what kind of a job you want to do and apply to the companies offering the profile. Don’t fly with the flock. Courses you take should align with what you are interested in. Keep engaging yourself with your subject of interest and playing around with things. If you are interested in Data analysis take up courses like probability, or Data visualization. You should not over exaggerate your resume, keep it real and reasonable. “
Authors: Paridhi Khowala (BT-CH ’20) & Hari Ramachandran (DD-MM ’20)
This is the second article in the series The Intern Guru. Stay tuned for more such articles where we share the stories of students pursuing their interns in various companies and universities across the world. To get regular updates like and follow us on Facebook at Chennai36.