Pooja Kumar from the Department of Chemical Engineering did her summer internship with P&G. Pooja had grabbed internships in four day one companies. In an interview with Chennai36, not only does she talk about the key takeaways from the internship but also about the selection procedures of all the four companies.
Could you tell us how your second-year internship helped you?
My second-year intern was an off-campus internship. It did a lot in shaping me as a person and helped me in deciding what type of an internship I want next. It was based on ML. It gave me an insight into data analytics and ML sector.
It didn’t have a direct effect on my third-year internship but it was just another experience that added to my resume. It gave me a chance to talk about my intern experience in my interview.
In what ways have your PORs helped you?
The activities you do on campus affect you in a way. There were a lot of HR questions where I had to answer things like could you give an instance where you had to decide in a team of people where a majority was against you.,How did you go about it? I was directly able to relate to things that I had done on campus. So being a part of the various clubs helped me in showcasing how teams work, how people work together, that is something companies look for. Most of the PORs on campus are similar to the corporate ladder in top tier companies are also in a similar manner. So being a part of teams will help you understand how to act spontaneously, how do you prioritize things when you have a lot of things in hand. It helps you learn stuff in a less damaging way. I personally believe that the team you are a part of is really beneficial if your leader is a really influential person and if you are able to learn something being a part of the team. So if you take up something just for the sake of interns and placements it not going to add value. Have a reason for the work you take up. Have a cause. Don’t take up PORs for the sake of taking them up or just because your friends are taking them up.
How did you prepare for your interns and how did you choose between the companies you got shortlisted?
I got shortlisted for 4 companies. It was a tough choice to make. The companies I got were Goldman sacs, ITC, P&G, and American Express. I was equally passionate about tech (Goldman Sachs and American express) and management (ITC and P&G). The way I decided on was my experiences. So I had already interned in tech. Hence, I wanted to try management so the choices left were ITC and P&G. Having interacted with my seniors and understanding the culture of the company I decided to choose P&G.
Intern preparation doesn’t begin one month before your interns. It begins from the day you enter campus. Everything you do in campus counts hence use your time wisely. Figure out the opportunities available for you on campus and grab the ones you are interested in. There are so many clubs which keep offering chances to participate. There are so many seniors willing to teach you things say it a new skill, technology or a sport. The crucial aspect of intern preparation begins half a month before your internship season begins. Firstly you need to focus on your resume preparation. The major reason it is important is that it is the first impression that the company is going to have about you. Say bad formatting or too much repetitive stuff will show you didn’t care enough for the resume which means you are not serious about the important stuff in your life. Ensure you finish your base draft at least two months in advance put whatever you have done and talk to a lot of seniors about what the company looks out for etc. For example, if you know you are a management person then take PORs which give that role of heading people. So that you get the exposure you need. For resume making, there are a lot of websites which help you in finding powerful words for your resume and try to make it as creative as possible. Going through your resume should give people a feel about your life. Verify your resume with a lot of seniors as they will be able to offer another perspective. Once that is done some companies have a group discussion (GD). The branch counselors will be conducting mock GDs. Also, do watch youtube videos which have tips and tricks on how to perform in a GD. During Gds every single aspect of yours is noticed (like body language etc). Maintaining professionalism throughout is essential. It might look a bit difficult to comprehend that at this point of time but these are small things that you should be taken care of.
Company-specific selection procedure:
It had a written test completely based on aptitude. A general piece of advice, focus a lot on aptitude. We have done a lot of things during JEE but we have lost the speed in the past years of campus life as it practically not possible to live like that throughout. So these puzzle books like “herd on the street” and “Geeks for geeks” are very helpful for the improvement of aptitude. Doing your probability course in your second year is one big advantage as you won’t have to spend time separately learning it as they are part of any quantitative aptitude test for any company. These tests basically focus a lot on your skill and speed. So practice a lot of online questions, practice from books and make sure you get the speed that you had during JEE prep. Getting back to AmEx it had a technical test, one technical interview and one HR interview. The interview was majorly based on my resume. I had a few machine learning projects on my resume, so they asked me about how I went about with the project, what is the impact of the project, what were the difficulties that I faced during the making and how I overcame them. They also asked me about math questions and there were some very basic HR questions like what will you do if you become a part of the company etc. For any kind of HR interview, prepare a week ago. Discuss with your friends on what you are as a person. What all have you done in the past two years and even during your school days. You should know what’s your USP. Defining yourself and knowing your USP is the most important thing you should know. Be very clear on what your plan of action is going to be.
Goldman sacs has a hectic interview schedule. One personal advice for all the people who have multiple shortlists in a day. Have a friend with you who can do things which are necessary for you to process. Like getting your lunch delivered, getting printouts and last minute documents etc. Have plenty of snacks and water with you. Know your intern coords well so that you know what you are to do next. Make sure your phone doesn’t switch off because after every interview you will have 15 missed calls asking you for different interviews. Ensure you prioritize your choices beforehand. Like I had to face a situation where both Nomura and P&G were calling me. So I had to take a call as to which company I wanted to go to first. Spending mental energy on these things is not recommended at that point.
They have a technical test which really vigorous. It comprises of three parts quant, ML and competitive coding. I felt competitive coding wasn’t my strength. I revised basic algorithms just to cross the threshold in there. Their selection criterion is to major in one or two and be average in the other. Don’t skip it completely but know the basics and get an average score. It’s a section wise time test. Don’t waste unnecessary mental energy there as you will anyways be short of time. I had mentally planned everything in mind beforehand. I knew what my priority order was going to be.
Every company will ask you a introduce yourself question. Make a doc and type out what you are going to talk about. I knew that say a company X would like to hear my tech experiences so I would pitch them my tech stories. So that planning really helps and the best way to do it is to type it out.
ITC will have resume shortlist, GD, tech interview and an HR interview. The tech interview will be very intensive. They will focus a lot on your projects and courses. Be clear about the points you put in your resume. Make sure that you are comfortable with whichever 4-6 courses that you have put. Make sure you understand every concept and its derivation completely. They do focus on JEE stuff also based on the topic mentioned in your resume. Another piece of advice, be very very thorough with your resume. HR interview will have questions like where do you see yourself in the next 10 years? To answer such questions you need to know a lot about the company. Google and talk to the seniors about the work culture, job profiles offered by the company. Talking and discussing all this will tell you about the company and how your life would be in it. Every company will ask you if there is any question you want to ask them. If you genuinely have some questions, you should shoot out, don’t hesitate as they are here sell their company at the end of the day. And if you don’t have anything because you are either mentally occupied or too tired after the interview then prepare a couple of questions beforehand. This will show that you are truly interested in the company.
P&G has a psychometric test, aptitude test, and an HR interview. It has no technical test. It is completely based on your interview. They aren’t going to judge you much based on your resume. There is no CG cutoff for this company. The aptitude test is pretty simple. It’s just to check your speed and ability to handle numbers and how fast you are without silly errors. Then the psychometric test is to see how you are as a person. If you know yourself well enough you will be able to ace through it. Thus Know your strengths and what your value systems are. If you are prepared with this, the psychometric test is just a cakewalk. The toughest part is the HR round. You will have situations questions which really test your leadership abilities. Understand them and answer them calmly. The interviewers are chill people they are here to understand you before they can evaluate you. So be calm, composed and truthful about whatever you have in life so far.
How is the work culture there and how hectic is it? How was your work experience and what sort of project did you work on?
I was allotted a project in P&G goa. I was very excited about the place like everybody else but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to experience much in goa though because the intern project was pretty hectic. I had to work for two projects thus I was able to get a mix of both tech and managerial work. From my understanding, I can tell you that most of the work will be techno-managerial. Generally, there are not many prerequisites. The people are very friendly and they make sure that their interns get enough support and guidance to take their project forward. The biggest thing I liked is the culture of the company. The people are very helpful and the experience was cherishable. I was situated in 3 different places during my tenure but they made sure that they made my travel very comfortable. They really understand that if the people are happy and comfortable they will be able to deliver results. Amount of learning I got from people around and the plant was really great. The learning curve is really steep. Overall it was a very good experience and an interesting project.
Any last thoughts you would like to share with us?
Take your internship project very seriously. Make a lot of contacts in the company. See if you would like to work in the company for the rest of your life or at least the beginning of your career as it gives you an understanding of the kind of work you would like to do. One thing If you were an employee there what was it that you would do better. End of the day, an internship is a two-fold process. You give back the company and you get back something from the company. In my case. I feel both things were equally fulfilled. Whichever company you go into, it doesn’t matter. At the end of the what matters is how you perform there, how much you are able to deliver. So don’t get disheartened if you don’t get the company you are looking for. Things will converge at some point in time.
Author: Divika Agarwal (BT-CH ’21)