One of our correspondents, Meghna, caught up with Vaibhav Kashyap, from the Civil Engineering Department, IIT Madras, about his recent internship at Paypal. She presents a condensed version of their conversation.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sure, I am Vaibhav, and I am a fourth year undergraduate in Civil Engineering. I am from Bangalore. Generally, I am interested in web development and coding, and play video games, cricket, and hang out with my friends.
Could you also give a brief introduction to PayPal and also, why you chose this?
PayPal is a leading online payments company. Their base is not entirely in India, even though they have been around for a decade here. They are still mostly based in the U.S. I chose Paypal mainly because I wanted to explore this area. The e-commerce sector is a booming one, especially the online payments industry. The stocks of these online payments companies are rising manifold. So, you would want to be in a company of which the stocks are rising, right? This was my reasoning for the choice.
Please tell us about your work profile and location.
My work profile is coding, basically. I had to develop android applications, had to work on web development, machine learning and natural language processing. My profile was a mix of these. They gave me a project and i happened to finish it in the first two weeks. Then they gave me another project, which I finished in the next three weeks. Right now, they have just given me another project, and they have also extended my internship for about two weeks. It’s mainly multiple projects combining all these areas.
My location is Chennai itself.
You have done three internships before this. (Tell us briefly about those). Do you think that your experience there has helped you in this application and the work later on?
My first internship was in HAL. It was related to project management and monitoring. That didn’t help much in this internship. My second one was web development in TallyX. That did help me a bit in this internship, when I had to build a server and in some other things. The next was in an insti start-up, also in web development. That helped me as well in this one. I think that if you are interested in, and have some experience in coding, it could help you a lot in these types of internships since most companies do come for coding and IT profiles after all.
Could you walk us through an average day of your internship?
I get up at around 9 in the morning and leave my PG at around 9:45. I reach my office at 10 and start my work. By 11-11:30, I’d take a break and would go have some snacks in the breakout room. There are rooms called breakout rooms in the office where you’d get free snacks, coffee, tea, cakes, juice and everything, just kept there. You can go grab something, have it there, and come back to work.So, I’d come back in around 15 minutes and resume my work. At 1, I take a 30-40 minute lunch break, after which, I’d continue working, with a break at 3, until 4:30, at which point I go to the gym. My office has a gym, so I go there. And at 5:30, I leave for my PG. There were some days where I even went to the pool table in the office. There are a lot of companies that don’t have much of a work-life balance. PayPal is definitely not one of them. My manager and director doesn’t force me to work for a specific number of hours. There’s no required 8 hours or 10 hours condition there. I have seen some interns in my PG who leave in the morning and come back late in the night. I don’t think this is a productive style, and it impacts your efficiency and mind. Paypal, according to me, believes in giving back to its employees. Different companies have different areas where they spend their money, PayPal spends it on their employees.
Please tell us about the application and selection process.
The company appeared on the portal in the second week, probably. They put up a test. It was a coding test. There was no specific resume shortlisting. Through the entire process, they never read my resume. I had copies of it in my bag, and they just stayed as simply copies in my bag. They had given a programming test, on HackerRank. There were 2 or 3 coding questions. You had to get a minimum score on that (you get some marks for each question). I happened to be the top scorer in that, and got through. It was open to all branches. If you pass the test, you get called for an interview.
As for the interview, it was a two round process. Both were technical, not much of HR. They grill you, basically, on everything. They asked me about myself, just general HR questions. ‘Why do you want to do this?’, ‘What do you want to do in five years?’, and the likes. They weren’t too serious, and didn’t actually judge me on these answers. They did ask me about my branch though. I’ from Civil, and so, they wanted to know about my interest in coding. They had a couple of questions that required me to prove my interest in the area. It should be chill, if you’re really interested in, and know coding.
What do you think stood out in your profile? Are there any criteria like specific PoRs or a high CGPA, or the previous internships that helped you with the selection? (Do you think these are particularly required criteria?)
No. Definitely no. They absolutely don’t care about your CGPA. They didn’t even read my resume. So, I think these wouldn’t matter in any way. You just need to score well in the coding test, and you get called for an interview. And in the interview, they ask you practical application questions, where you apply coding. As for the topics they focus on, they are Dynamic programming, Arrays and lists, and Data structures.
Do you think there are relevant courses that you took that helped you with the selection?
I had zero computer science courses until my third year. But I had been coding for a long time, so I had enough experience in that. I didn’t specially prepare for PayPal. But if anything, I’d advise students to have experience in competitive coding. The questions on HackerRank are basically competitive programming based, so you need to be fast and get optimal Algorithm to get all the test cases right.
Also, are there any particular incidents/events that you believe you have learnt a lot from during your internship? Also, any fun experiences as well?
Ten days into the internship, we had a party by the colleagues. A team treat. And, every Friday, we have something called Knowledge Sharing session. There, people would talk about what they are working on, their product, how it’s impacting PayPal, how PayPal could impact the community and such stuff. After that, there’s a buffet, and you get drinks and everything is free. That’s a custom there. Then we have something called Kids@Work. On the 31st of May, all the employees’ kids come to the office. Everybody was roaming around, there were many fun activities and games for the kids. I even went on a trip to Kodaikanal from PayPal. It was a four day trip, a team outing. They took all of us together. We were around 22 people, and we had booked a complete resort. We went trekking, boating, and such. We had lots of fun. Everyone is young- in their early 30s, late 20s, and so on. So, it’s a very good environment. There are even people older than you by a year or two, so it’s a great place to work. I am the Campus Ambassador for PayPal, so that has been a good experience as well.
Could you tell us about what insight this internship has provided you with, as to what you want to do in the future?
During this internship, my first project gave me a good insight into how to address the payments problem in India. In India, we see Paytm as a more popular option. But Paytm requires internet for you to send money. What my co-intern and I developed there is that you can tap and pay, even without internet. So, that’s something I got to learn. In my future, I want to do an MBA. Being in the financial sector, I think, will be a plus to my profile as well.
Do you have any advice for students who wish to apply for this internship this year?
Aside from the technical details mentioned earlier, my advice would be to not look at the money and apply. Going for the pay wouldn’t guarantee that you’d enjoy the work, or actually benefit from it. So, I’d suggest that they look into the kind of work, ask seniors who have done this already, see if you are a fit for the company and then choose.