Our correspondent Meghna caught up with Shilpa from the Electrical Engineering Department, IIT Madras, about her recent internship at Samsung. Here are a few excerpts from the interview-
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Shilpa, a BTech student in Electrical Engineering. I have completed my third year and this summer I interned at Samsung R&D Bangalore. I come from Kochi, and my hobbies would include watching TV series, movies, and I play badminton, and table tennis.
Could you briefly introduce Samsung R&D? Also, do tell us about why you chose it.
Samsung R&D is Samsung’s research and development centre located in Bangalore. There’s another R&D office in Noida as well. Coming to my internship, Samsung R&D in Bangalore has people coming in from Computer Science, IT and Electrical Engineering backgrounds. The various teams working here include Visual Intelligence, Voice Intelligence, IoT, networks, communication protocol and more. Each team is located on a different floor and each team is divided into sub-teams and sub-teams can be further divided based on specific projects. And as to why I chose this, Samsung was listed as one of the core companies for us and I had an interest in software/coding and machine learning profiles.
Please tell us about your work profile in Samsung R&D.
I was put into IoT R&D and within this, was in the Smart Living team. My field of work was data science, and I worked on sequential pattern mining on big data.
What is a normal day like in your internship?
Samsung has a 9-hour policy, so every day you should clock in for at least 4 hours, and by the end of the month, you should have an average of 9 hours every day. You could come at any time, but an average of 9 hours a day is a must. I stayed at a PG in Bangalore. There was transportation provided by Samsung. My bus was at 8, and I used to reach the office in fifteen minutes. We had breakfast from the cafeteria, and then we started our work. We had weekly reviews which involved all the team members and managers. Then at around 6 in the evening, we took our return bus. The people in my team were very approachable. Most of them were from IITs and so we could relate with each other and they would help us out with everything, not just on say work-related stuff, but I could approach them for career advice as well.
Could you tell us about the application and selection process?
The application is through the internship portal and you have to upload your resume. They shortlist you by your CGPA, I think the cutoff was around 7.5. And then we have the Samsung coding round and if you answer 2 out of 3 in that, you will pass (though people who answered just one also were also selected). And then you’ll get shortlisted for the GD round. This is again a coding round, except you’re asked to code on paper. We had to write a pseudo-code. They had given us two questions and on passing this, we were advanced into the interview round. My interview was pretty much technical, but some people had an HR segment in that interview as well. They asked me about my courses and such, and that was mostly all there was to the process.
You’ve done a research internship at CEWiT before. You were also a webops coordinator for Saarang. Do you think these helped you with any part of this internship -selection or the work? Do you think that such criteria like high CGPA, PoRs, previous work experience and such are necessary for this?
Not much, but one thing common among all these was the immense amount of coding. So the coding culture is very much required for any engineer. In CEWiT, I was working on the 5G testbed simulation and we were given separate modules to code according to 3GPP specification. We were coding in C++. It was almost entirely a coding intern but we got to know about the 5G protocols and all about the 5G data link that is being set up. So it gave us not just a coding practice but also some level of knowledge on digital communication. And the WebOps part- I don’t think it helped me in this in any way other than providing me a coding platform. The work here in Samsung R&D was entirely different as I was involved in machine learning and data science. About these being necessary, I don’t think a high CGPA is necessary at all. PoRs aren’t that important unless it’s directly in the field of the work of the company. Previous work experience, of course, matters. They don’t want a blank resume. They would want to see some level of competency in you, so it does matter.
Are there courses relevant to this offered in the institute that you took, or you think would help other applicants?
Yes, so there’s the course Data Structures and Algorithms. This course is offered in the Electrical, Computer Science and Biotechnology departments. There’s an NPTEL course on this, too. It can be taken from any department and it’s a basic course that is required to even write the coding round for this internship. And it’s required after coming here as well. Without that, it would be very difficult to proceed. Also preferably, one could also do a Machine Learning course- at least an introductory course. Some people had done courses on Deep Learning, too. That is also very helpful. It depends though. I am from Electrical, so people don’t expect me to know much. But people from Computer Science are expected to know Networks, DBMS, Object Oriented Programming, and so on. These are almost core to Computer Science, so they would know. Students from Electrical are expected to know at least the Data Structures and Algorithms course. Of course, there were people here who didn’t know it and came here and learnt.
Could you share some fun and memorable experiences as well?
Most of these were with college mates and going out with our team members. Once we went to a restaurant in Bangalore with our team, two days before our internship ended. We had a fun time there. Others include playing carroms with friends in the pantry, watching the ICC World Cup matches and tennis matches on the big screen in the cafeteria, playing darts, and so on. The first seven days we were given accommodation in a five-star hotel. That was really nice, we had a good time there.
Could you tell us about the key takeaways you’ve gained from this internship?
I have never worked in a fully corporate office before this. So I was able to see how corporate life is and how it works. So it gave me an insight into what a company would want from me. Initially, I was under the impression that only some level of technical knowledge would be enough. But through this internship, I have come to understand that a company would want what’s best and they would want us to market the company and be enterprising.
Any final message for future applicants?
Keep the coding culture alive. It’s always required. Be good at this because that’s the basic criteria for any technical field. So just be very good at it.