Lazily waking up from my sleep, I look around as my dad calls out pointing that we will be reaching Hazrat Nizamuddin station in 5 mins. It isn’t that I haven’t been to Delhi earlier, but it was all very different this time. Usually as is the case at my home, I was the first one who was going abroad. That day passed very quickly as if it took no time at all and there we were, me and my father standing at the airport, bidding the final goodbye. We parted ways and I headed for check-in; butterflies fluttering in my stomach as I looked forward to the experiences at my internship…
Hey Everyone, I am Abhinav Jain a going to be fourthie of Mechanical Engineering, and you are going to read about my experience as an intern at GFK (Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung), I am framing this blog into a question-answer format, for you to feel an interview of sorts!
How did you find out about this intern and what got you enthu about it?
My introduction to GFK was as usual as any other company that came through the placement cell. During the peak of the internship process, we noticed GFK in internship portal. GFK is Germany’s largest market research institute and the fourth largest market research organization in the world. On the day of presentation from GFK team, we were informed how GFK is undergoing transformation to have more data science-driven approach to analytics and this was where it got my interest (apart from the stipend of course ;p). As a student who fell for data analysis and python in the first year I saw this as a massive opportunity to explore data science as we had the opportunity to work in teams from level 0. Having some experience in the same through the previous internship and through coursework, I was enthused as I seek to pursue a career in data science. And GFK was the perfect place to me given my experience and opportunities ahead.
Can you describe the interview/selection process and your preparation for the same?
Honestly, there wasn’t much preparation time for this internship. I did try out for some coding at the start of internship season but it did not matter much. So yeah, not much of a preparation I’ll say. As for the selection process GFK had a short selection procedure. Quickly after the presentation, we were asked to take out our laptops for a small objective test that was based on questions related to python programming, SQL, and statistics. The test results were out soon. The first interview started 2 hours after the test. We were all called up at the interview venue at the same time. But I was relieved as I realized that I had some time for taking rest as I had my turn in the evening. Each interview took around 45 mins. And this was the only interview before the final selection. My interview went okay-ish. I was asked some puzzles like the Tower of Hanoi and also some problems that required us to find ways of utilizing given data to solve problems. I was also questioned about my previous internship in detail and was asked about the project, the methods used and the overall experience there. The final results were announced on the same night. Thus the whole process of selection got completed within 24 hours.
(At my office in Nuremberg)
What were your first impressions about your intern?
Internship at GFK is pretty chill, to be honest. I was surprised to find a lot of Indians working in my team as my manager introduced us to each of them. The people here are jovial and make sure that you do not face difficulties with your work. As Germany has strict working hour policies, the people are much more tension free while working. The most impressive of all is that people still work hard. There is no distraction permitted during work and you would not spot people sitting at their desk and using their phones while working. These, along with a couple of more steps that GFK took for our pleasant stay during training made quite an impression on me.
Accommodation / food ?
This is the hard part of my internship actually. Having a habit of not worrying about food at the hostel or at home made me realize quickly that getting food is not an easy task. As a vegetarian, I’ve been able to keep myself away from Non-vegetarian food, even though I clearly remember my friends teasing me at the challenge of eating vegetarian food during my period of stay.
We are provided with an apartment from GFK where I reside with my co-interns. As for travel, Nuremberg has a pretty good public transport system and we usually travel on trams, chuckling every time at the sweet voice announcing “Next Haltestelle…“
What kind of work have you been allocated?
My work at GFK involves looking into Consumer purchase dataset and another dataset involving the internet searches made by the customer before buying the product, and to look for any relationship that can be defined between the two. Ultimately we aim to predict consumer behavior and the influence made on the purchase by internet searches. The task involves the use of heavy feature engineering and NLP for identifying keywords in search strings so as to establish any meaningful comparison between searches, landing page from search results and final purchase.
So far we have been able to successfully predict the brand of choice for a purchase given the search data. Me and my co-interns also took part in internal hackathons conducted by GFK and bagged third place in the same. A feat that awed all of our mentors and colleagues in the office 🙂
Travelling around the place, interesting places to see
The internship provided a very good opportunity for what I call as scratching the surface of Europe. We(me and my co-interns) have plans for every weekend to cover Europe at its breadth, using the Schengen visa to its full potential. So far I have managed to cover Nuremberg, Munich, Interlaken & Luzern(Switzerland), Prague(Czechia),Budapest(Hungary), Barcelona(Spain) and Paris(France). Next up in the queue are Rome(Italy) and if possible Amsterdam(Netherlands).
(Memories from visits in Europe)
People/Culture, new things specific to the location and surroundings of the intern
There are a lot of cultural shocks I experienced in Germany. The very first being the amount of diversity in Nuremberg. Although I am accustomed to diversity back home, never did I expect so much diversity here. People here are from all countries and continents. We have Americans, French, Brits, Spanish, Africans, Asians, and many Indians. And this diversity seems to add its own flavor of culture in this melting pot. GFK, in addition, is a lot more diverse where people from other cultures are in greater number than Germans. This makes the environment here a very good place for learning about different cultures. Apart from the people, Germany also has a lot of different Beers(well this was expected). Here in Nuremberg, we have a place in the Nuremberg Castle where people from the city gather every day and just sit and have a beer while talking with their friends and family. A very unique experience indeed!
(Sit down and drink Beer)
Other interesting things about the intern you’d like to share
This year, GFK re-initiated the process of hiring interns after a long time. This gave us an opportunity to meet the top executives of the company as they look forward to a good experience for both the company and interns. Hence, I had the opportunity to have lunch with the CTO and will soon be meeting the CEO on call. All in all, it was amazing to see how top tier management also seems to care about interns and how hierarchy seems to diminish in such interaction.
Any particular experiences you had
Well, this internship provided me with a load of experience of working in an office environment, managing your own home, cooking your own food and planning your international travels. My best experiences involve tidbits from here and there, but I can share one here.
So on our visit to Prague, we were crossing the Charles bridge to walk in the old town. We noticed some shops that were selling something like ice-creams. Not knowing what exactly they were, we decided to try them as a part of our quest to try traditional foods from all cities. Turns out that they weren’t ice-creams. They were some delicious whipped cream dessert that came in a rolled dough that is wrapped around a stick, then grilled and topped with sugar. Later as I sought to search its name, I got to know that it is called Trdelník or Trdlo, and is NOT a traditional dessert. In Fact, it’s a tourist scam and became famous only in around 2010. I’ll bet it is the best tourist scam to fall for.
(Trdelník or Trdlo; it’s not ice-cream)
As this blog comes to an end, it reminds me of so many interesting experiences I came across. From meeting the CTO and CEO of GFK to having chai breaks, this internship gave me a lot of experience of what is “working in an office environment”. For my last few words I would like to say just be yourself and keep moving.
There’s always something good ahead!