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Utkarsh Kumar is a 3rd year Undergraduate pursuing a B.Tech in Computer Science and Engineering.
Hi there, I am Utkarsh, just finished with my third year at Computer Science & Engineering department of IIT Bombay. I am a summer intern at Xerox Research, Bangalore. Do not be misled by the name Xerox, the company is about much more than just photocopying machines. 😉
(Fun fact: They just launched a travel app for Bangalore by the name of ‘Go Bengaluru’).
The internship season:
Having explored my options in the financial and development profiles, I had been on the lookout for a research internship. No wonder Xerox Research was among my top priorities.
As the internship season approached, everyone was busy brushing up their data structures and algorithms. I was a little out of touch with my coding skills, and ended up messing up the coding round of the first company I sat for. Funnily enough, the next company I sat for didn’t have a coding round or interview. Yes, even though Xerox Research mentioned they would be taking a round of interviews for selection, they selected students based on their resume and CGPA. Spending time building my resume paid off handsomely here.
(Sidenote: Third year is usually a good time to take up research projects under a professor. I didn’t take one under the impression that research wasn’t my thing; only to end up trying my hand at a research project here and absolutely loving it! Takeaway: Do not form impressions without trying out things.)
The summers arrive:
On arriving to the office on day 1, we were welcomed by our HR at the company, and promptly introduced to our mentors. The first thing we noticed in the office was the bunch of equations and other geeky stuff written on the whiteboards of the researchers, makes you feel you’re in the right place. Within the first half of the day, we were given project topics to choose from, which were then finalized by the next day and we were on our way! This was in stark contrast to what my friends at other companies were going through, multiple days packed with sessions introducing the company, the teams and policies, and what not. It was also great to see that the company took full care of the accommodation and the transportation, to ensure our projects are the only thing on our minds. The accommodation is particularly noteworthy providing double beds with single occupancy; you come back to your room at the end of the day and find the room cleaned up, the bed made up; that is a great feeling. There is also a mini bus to take care of the commute to and from the office. The breakfast is complimentary and lunch is available in the office for ₹70 a plate; you also get sandwiches, dosas and maggi for a cheap ₹20-30.
The work atmosphere is very relaxed, with the focus on the progress made and not on the hours spent. In fact, plenty of professors from IIT Bombay work in collaboration with the researchers here. As is the case with most of the tech companies, hardly anybody wears anything that can be called formal.
I am working on something on the juncture of mobile computing and machine learning, the details of which I cannot disclose here. And the level of freedom I have with the project is simply amazing. I am solely responsible for my project, the mentor is there to give suggestions as and when needed. The first few weeks were spent reading plenty of research papers and getting up to date with the latest developments in the field. Thereafter the real fun began as I ventured into the uncharted waters! There are days when I feel totally lost, making no progress at all; and then all of a sudden, there come a few very productive days when a lot of ground is covered. Since it is not a coding intern, there are no hard deadlines to meet; meaning one has more leeway to sit back and read stuff. On the other side, lack of deadlines also means the onus is on you to stay motivated.
Lastly, being in Bangalore means having countless number of friends close by. And there is no lack of places to visit, both in and out of the city. There are amazing restaurants, pubs, clubs, breweries to spend your evenings. And there are caves, treks, waterfalls to sate the adventurous ones (Nandi Hills, Chikmagalur, Hogenakkal, Ooty, Gokarna, and the list goes on and on). There are enough places that you might tour around every weekend, and still have many left on your bucket list.
The weather is amazing too, with pre-monsoon showers hitting the city as early as May. The temperatures have been pleasant. But the one horrifying experience among all of this is the Bangalore traffic. The hotel to office distance of 3 kilometres is covered by the office bus in a painful 20-25 minutes.
Overall, it has been an amazing experience exploring new work fields, meeting new people. If you are into research and theory with a strong practical bend, you will surely enjoy this internship.