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Rahul Ramchandani is 3rd year Undergraduate pursuing B.Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science
As I’m writing this blog, almost at the end stages of a memorable internship experience at Capital One and with only one week left, I’ve realized that I’ll probably miss this place more than I had anticipated. Great work at office, a bunch of intelligent new friends plus a bag full of memories have left me satiated and grateful for the entire journey.
Capital One was visiting our campus only for the second time for internships and hence there was very little awareness about the company. Whatever I had gathered from seniors and a previous year blog had me intrigued since the internship experience at Capital One seemed too good to be true for a big bank and the kind of image that is associated with corporate life. At the expense of being ridiculed for using internet-cliche, I’ll say this; what came next blew my mind. More on this later.
The hiring process at Capital One for interns was the same as that of placements and consisted of an aptitude test followed by three rounds of interviews. The aptitude test was fairly straightforward and tested your ability to answer data-intensive questions in a short time. The first interview is a guesstimate case where you need to perform back of the envelope calculations, while the final two are case rounds, wherein you are supposed to solve a business problem which in context of Capital One are number-intensive. I’d almost slipped up on a silly error during my interview but was quick to correct that and pick up where I’d left off. So a major tip would be to focus on your number crunching skills for the interviews. Some basic knowledge on case solving and credit cards would be a plus point.
I was the last person to come out of the interview rooms and was surprised to see the selected candidates already waiting outside. To my delight, I’d also been extended an offer which I then accepted gleefully. As someone who likes spending alone time, I went straight to Hiranandani and packed a sumptuous pizza along with desserts from Theobroma which I then ate silently near lakeside, replaying all that had happened in the frenetic internship season so far, feeling a little proud and relieved at the same time, enjoying the cool breeze that lakeside offers.
Work, Play and Rest
The internship at Capital One was an all-inclusive affair. Starting from cab transfers, flight tickets and even serviced apartments for the entire two months I felt pampered right from the beginning. Pleasantly surprised after arriving at our apartments (one was a penthouse on the top floor), we settled in comfortably and were invited for an ice breaking session at Taj, well because they don’t do normal here. The first few days were devoted to training sessions on the essentials, like Excel, SQL and creating presentations which were hands-on and relevant to our daily work. A session called Breakthrough was organized at this nice little place outside Bangalore to increase team bonding and to teach us how to apply life lessons to corporate culture.
Capital One had hired 17 interns this time, a first for the company and were segregated into the two divisions here at the Bangalore office – Data Labs and US Card, names which are pretty self-explanatory. Data Labs focuses on managing the data processes involved in running a huge analytics company where data is king. US Card has teams working on various aspects of the Card business in the US and Canada like Collections, Fraud, Customer experience, and smaller teams that were subsets of the businesses in the US like Small Business Banking, Commercial Banking and Partnerships. There was even a team called SLQ2CQ, well figure that one out. The work on both floors was different; Data Labs had coding intensive projects whereas US Card had analytics-based projects.
My team was Commercial Banking and I was involved in a project related to Delinquency Management using predictive analytics. Funny how life works, since I had done a classroom program on Business Analytics last summer (which probably helped me secure the intern) because I had missed out on internships due to a botched up travel plan and was left hanging because I hadn’t applied for any. Although apprehensive initially, I soon realized that my work was important to stakeholders in the US (since most teams are cross functional and work in collaboration with teams in US) and could have a huge impact if I successfully complete it. Although the internship experience varied slightly with the team that you joined, most of us were satisfied with the quality of work and the end-to-end ownership of projects that were given to us. I personally found my team to be excellent and very helpful in all aspects of work and even outside, something that Capital One takes pride in. There was a lot of startup culture visible within this big company including the use of Kan Ban boards, open floor plans, 10 minute catchups, Summer Games, weekly sessions on interesting topics, monthly sessions by experts and plenty of knowledge sharing across teams.
The office space was designed beautifully and had all perks interns could ever dream of with PS4s, Foosball tables, TT tables and even actual Lazyboys and a mini library for breaks. Combine this with hot chocolate available on demand and subsidized vending machines, I never felt a lack of comfort while working in the office. Another great perk was the flexible work hours and cab service to office, after which we had practically everything taken care of. A much awaited event at office was the snack cart which was a monthly, themed food fair and the interns were responsible for organizing one of them. Weekly football sessions were commonplace and we’d head out for play after a long day which was awesome. Phew, too many perks, eh? I’m not complaining!
Life in Bangalore
Bangalore is a pleasant city to live in but there’s not much to do in the city as such. Going out usually entails pubs and dinners that are usually very crowded, plus the traffic is a problem. Treats from mentors, buddies and the team happy hours ensured that we had seen most of the good places in the city. There are however a lot of places like Coorg, Kodaikanal, Pondicherry, Pichavaram, Nandi Hills which were ideal for weekend getaways. Apart from that IPL matches in the summer, music concerts and standups are regular features here and can be visited as per interest.
Wrapping it up
The final week consisted of presentation rehearsals and working on our decks that were to be presented to senior leadership for evaluation. I was pretty excited to showcase the work I had done and was amply questioned on it. The final day of work was mostly formalities and paperwork followed by High Tea at a terrace lounge in Taj. We were again showered with some mementos (excluding the ton of T-shirts we were given throughout our stay and which would probably be our wardrobe for next semester) and an informal talk then ensued regarding our future plans which predictably turned awkward and then funny. I, surprisingly was awarded the best project award along with a fellow co-intern which validated all the work I had put in and I was incredibly happy to be recognized. To all would be aspirants I would say this, if you want to work at a place where you want to be recognized for your work, be independent with your project, maintain a healthy work-life balance and are interested in analytics or coding based careers in the banking industry, then Capital One is an excellent place to be. The amount of effort they’ve put in to ensure that we feel at home has to be applauded and is a big reason why I said I’ll miss this place more than I’d expected.