ABInBev – Shubham Bhardwaj

And what exactly do we want in our life? No really, take a moment here, read that again, and think for a minute! It might be a long shot to say at this age xP. So maybe I’ll scale it down, what exactly do we want in our Insti life?

  1. A branch that we actually like? I couldn’t do a BC to my preferred branch by a small margin
  2. A good CPI? My DR has been consistently dropping for the last one year 😛
  3. A famous third-year PoR? I lost Athletics Secy elections by a significant margin
  4. Day 1 internships? I had a month long dry spell before I got my first shortlist
  5. Getting six-pack abs? Okay okay, not getting too personal 😀

As you would probably be thinking by now, I don’t quite fit the definition of those ‘machau’ (perhaps a double quote would be more apt, but anyway xP) people in Insti which everyone wants to be called as. Contrary to what you’re thinking, my Insti life has been very fulfilling, and if I were to do it all over again, I’d do it the same way! The point that I want to emphasize from this instead, is – that ‘Flashy success targets are a feeble motivation for happiness in life!’ (More lessons coming up, so better put those reading glasses on! xD) And the same goes with internships, so let’s dive into it right away!

About Me 🙂

Welcome, everyone! I’m Shubham Bhardwaj – a final year undergraduate student in the Department of Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science. I’m also pursuing a minor in the CSE Department (actually completed it now). I’m a person who loves trying a lot of different stuff, coz even if you mess up in a few things (doesn’t mean I did xD) you still gather a lot more experience than others. So, I’ve been a part of the Student Satellite Team in my first two years, have been the Web Nominee in UGAC in the third and a part of the Institute Athletics Team all through! In this article, I take the onus of walking you through my internship journey and providing some valuable lessons here and there!

Same time, last year

Let’s hop back in time to August 2019. Life was good – I was back from Australia after two months (I did a research intern at Monash University in the summers, mostly traveling and some work xD). A new semester had started, I was sitting in the H1 canteen having aamras with my friends, and discussing our internship expectations (yeah, same old Day 1 and >1 lakh package shit) which brought excitement, and a slight sense of fear. And then came the PT Cell, with all the forms, deadlines, and resume submission. In a flash, we were caught in what seemed like never-ending cycles of pinging seniors for tips and resumes (still don’t understand how they all look so stellar in the beginning, and surprisingly, we reach the same level but never quite realize it xP), practicing coding problems and puzzles, preparing for HR questions; all with managing acads at the same time!

Shortlisting which sectors I’m interested in didn’t seem to work out for me. So I started crossing out the ones which didn’t attract me enough, which in my case were IBs, finance, and supply chain. I had done a research intern already, so that and a core internship got ruled out as well. Since I was open to exploring, I signed all the other JAFs which came (not the best practice, I know xP). I was hopeful of getting shortlisted for at least one consulting firm (ever heard of a secret recipe to get consult shortlists– 8+ CPI, inter IIT/ decent 3rd year PoR and some sports/cult involvement? Not True xP). While it is natural to have some expectations for yourself, an excess will certainly weigh you down. But remember, despite any situation that comes up, only WE have 100% control over how we respond to it (or simply if we don’t want to). And that’s what I did, I let go of my expectations and started attending all company presentations (and bulk signing of all JAFs xP).

A bit about ABInBev, and the selection

Frankly, I had never heard of ABInBev (I was always more inclined to Software/ IT roles). I attended ABInBev’s presentation because that was a prerequisite for signing the JAF (you never know what’s in store for you xD). But what energy in the room! As soon as officials started talking, I could see the happiness they had while working for this company. What attracted me more was that they weren’t anymore competing to be better in their field (read the World’s No. 1 Beer Company xD ). Instead, they were focussing on excellence and building a company that would last for generations to come. This ideology resonated deeply within me, and I applied for the company just on my gut feeling!

The selection procedure, as could be seen from last year trends, consisted of a coding test + interview. Coding test was pretty easy, following which a shortlist of ~30 students came up for the next round. Last years’ blogs indicated selections of ~15 people (1 in 2 chance of getting selected, good eh?). But when does life fail to surprise us? On the interview day, a preliminary GD round was announced, for which I hadn’t prepared a bit. When only 15 people were shortlisted for the next round, chills ran down my spine! All sweaty and hungry, I still mustered up all my self-confidence for the interview, only to see it getting over in just 10 mins, while an average interview lasted ~30-40 mins for other candidates. Although filled with doubts from the duration of the interview, I knew I couldn’t have done any better (and hence I was satisfied). I was elated beyond measure after seeing my name in the selections (for one full day, what else do you expect? xP). 

Jumping ahead to March 2020. Corona created a rift in our peaceful lives, and all of us rushed home when Insti had to shut down. And life has been giving me (actually all of us xP) bouncers ever since! As summer vacations got preponed, having an internship seemed feasible only if it started right away (of course that couldn’t and didn’t happen). My co-interns and I coordinated between the company and PT Cell and finally settled on a one-month long internship starting May 1 (which later got converted to 2 months 😉). We had some introductory sessions starting January itself, where we were informed of the verticals we would be working in, along with our project charters (which were later modified… Go Corona xP). I was supposed to work in ZX Ventures, the innovation vertical of ABI (short for ABInBev) Analytics!

60 Days of Work (From Home)

The internship started with a day-long induction session re-iterating the core principles of the company, and introduction with our managers. The first week went into knowing about the company, understanding what I was supposed to do and the impact it’s going to have (read impact creating live projects ❤). I was supposed to work with a Brazil-based firm Ze Delivery on two projects at the same time. I can’t disclose the exact work due to confidentiality clauses, but briefly, the first revolved around refining a ML model by feature engineering, and the second related to simplifying and migrating data to a faster database.

I won’t be doing the article justice, if I don’t talk about Work From Home! This was the first time even companies faced a new challenge to provide virtual internships with the best possible experience, and ABInBev did nothing less than a marvellous job. All of us (me and the team I was working with) were very excited about WFH in the beginning (and were even thinking of shifting to this mode permanently!). For me, it meant no more searching for a PG in Bangalore, no more cooking for yourself, and at the same time having the comfort of home with tasty dishes and sweets (North Indian houses, you know! xD) made my mom! 💖 But as the months progressed, the other side of the coin started becoming prominent. The boundary between work and rest times started blurring, and people started getting drained out from day-long video calls. The company was quick to step in, suggesting a day off or even cancelling unimportant calls to bust off some stress.   

ABInBev Culture and My Experience

Overall, working at ABInBev was a fun ride! It has a flat organisation structure, meaning I could ping even the Global Directors (which I did xD) directly for help or informal talk. Work-life balance is also heavily emphasized upon and we had Fun Fridays, wherein, the entire team got together and played games like Tambola, Movie guessing and what not. Even on the professional front, we had 1-2 talks every week from new joiners to veterans in the company who shared their experiences, perspectives and general advice for our career and growth. On the work side, it was certainly a bit hectic for me but the learnings I amassed certainly made it worthwhile! For me, this internship struck out a perfect balance of work, learning and fun 🙂

Fun Fridays.. time to bond with the team 😀

Still confused?

I was explicitly told to not make this too long, but here we are (and congrats if you read up till here xD). To finish it off, I would like to give some tips for acing the internship season which worked for me:

  1. Know your resume like Sherlock knew the map of London (for those who don’t relate, here’s a nice recommendation xD). On a serious note, the least you’re expected to know  is what you’ve done and that too in-depth. 
  2. Confidence. Confidence. Confidence. There might be a 100 reasons to doubt you’re not good for the company or you haven’t prepared something. But just stick to the 1 thing you know you’re good at and muster up all the self-confidence you can. This can do wonders (even generally in life)!
  3. Perseverance. Understand that you’re competing with the best minds of the country, having equal to or more caliber than you! Despite the cut-throat competition, never get bogged down by a rejection (or even 10 for that matter) and just keep going!
  4. An emotional support group, of friends/ wingies/ family,  is very important, especially to deal with setbacks and quickly bounce back on your feet to fight again. When we’re feeling low, we let opportunities slip out of our hands (which may never come back).
  5. Remember that it’s not just you who want to get selected in a company, the companies themselves have come to recruit IITians. So fear not, but don’t let this statement of confidence turn into arrogance either.

And if nothing works out, remember you’re still 20 (or 21) and it’s just the beginning of a long life ahead of us. Just be sure to capitalise on opportunities that do come your way, and those which don’t… well, there’s no point regretting or dreaming about them anyway. Coz in the end, even if we get an internship on Day 33 or just 4 pack abs, life’s still pretty sweet, isn’t it? 😜

Signing off! Best of luck!

5 months ago