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Kewal Bhat is a Second Year Undergraduate pursuing a Dual Degree (B.Tech + M.Tech) in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science.
That one cold morning in the spring semester when I woke up to the sound of my buzzing alarm as usual for an 8:30am class and checked my phone for notifications, turned out to be one of the best days ever! All the efforts that I had put into apping had finally paid off. The professor said that he wanted to have a telephonic interview to gauge my interest in finance. After a brief chat with him, I was told that he would inform me about his ongoing projects, in a fortnight. So after a few restless days, they informed me that I had been selected for this internship. An opportunity to do my second year intern at a Business School like ISB was indeed a dream come true!
Cometh Spring, and I was still in a dilemma about where I should be headed for in my summers. With quite some interest in Meta, I had previously done a project in dental ceramics in my winters. I was planning to do something on solar cells time around, but wasn’t sure if summers were the right time for it (pun intended). I wanted to get a taste of what non-core and particularly the finance field has in store. Economics was once course I had thoroughly enjoyed in second year and some extra reading did make me feel interested and inclined towards working on a project in this field. And what better way of gauging my interests than working on a research project at a B-school. Just as every other mainstream research intern, I spent the next couple of weeks apping to a few professors in B-Schools whose research interests matched mine.
A few weeks later, ISB also visited insti via the PT cell. It was, however, open only for third year students. With 18 selections via the PT cell and two of us sophomores, we were all set for a summer in the City of Pearls.
The Day-One Blues:
Being a Mumbaikar, I had never had an experience of staying away from home unlike most of my friends. So, my first day in Hyderabad felt like a bit of a challenge. Finding a PG-hostel, negotiating with autowallas, language problems and a longing for home were all a part of it. But my south Indian roots greatly helped me adjust to the food that my PG served. After all this chaos, I finally went for work that day even though I was a bit late. Nervously entering the NSE-ISB Trading lab (where I was going to work for the whole of my summers), I was dumbstruck by its awesomeness. That surely was my ‘Alice in wonderland’ moment!
Work Experience @ ISB
Being a team of around 20, we were divided into groups on day one and each group was given work to be finished before the set deadlines. The timings were flexible and we could work from anytime between 8am and 2am. Our work basically involved reading research papers on the trading strategies that they talked about, and implement them for Indian companies given that most of the renowned papers in finance had tried out their strategies only on US companies. We also worked on a few text scraping methods on a daily basis. For working on similar projects some coding was needed, but whatever was required, I learnt all of it during my intern itself. We coded in SAS, Stata and a little bit in R.
My Professor used to be busy for most of the time in the day. So all the interns were working under the guidance of his Research Assistants (RAs). A lot of his RAs were from engineering backgrounds and a couple of them were IITians as well. Our batch of interns was also given a lecture on the research opportunities in finance along with the pros and cons of being a part of academia (the payscales too :P). The lecturer also quoted one of his professors during his PhD days saying that, “If you succeed here you are going to become good professors, and if you fail, you’ll still be stinking rich”.
A Beautiful Campus:
The ISB campus is in Gachibowli, a fast-developing suburb in Hyderabad. The campus has large boulders, open fields, landscaped areas and lush greenery, combining the elegant buildings and facilities with a scenic landscape. A few days after our arrival, we were given temporary ID cards for the two month period, with which we could use all the facilities available in the institute. I used to go for swimming everyday for an hour after work. So, even though our work timings were flexible and the work being not at all stressful, we ended up staying in the campus for more than 10-12 hours every day.
The Cafeteria was really good and it served all types of dishes. It was a bit pricey as compared to our hostel canteens, but the food was way better both in terms of its quality and taste. When I landed in Hyderabad in mid-May, the atmosphere felt as hot as an oven, but it started raining a few weeks into my intern and the weather became very pleasant.
Being a vegetarian in Hyderabad and that too in the month of Ramadan did keep me away from outside food for prolonged periods. But one can’t deny the fact that it’s the delicacies that after all define Hyderabad. For instance, a famous brand of eateries, called ‘Chutneys’ gives you six types of chutneys to choose from and is a must visit. Apart from that, a weekly stopover at the nearby Inorbit mall to watch latest movies had become routine stuff. I would also recommend visiting the landmark Hussain Sagar Lake and the Birla Mandir for sure.
Overall, the experience has been an enriching one and truly worth it. I would recommend anyone who is enthusiastic about finance to try out research in finance and analytics as it helps one build up his fundamentals in the field. While roaming around the campus, I’d notice people passionately talking about their respective subjects, something obviously missing in our institute.
Well, this pretty much sums up my wonderful journey from Meta to Data