I, like most people in insti, had very little clue as to what kind of internship I wanted to do, and even lesser guts to actually wait before such an opportunity presented itself amidst the immense pressure that accompanies the internship season. So, on the midnight of 15th August, I received a phone call from the ICs to essentially grant me independence from having to check the internship blog every hour.
The selection process consists of an offline aptitude test and two rounds of interview (although some of us had to give just the one round).
The test had a number of simple math problems and one case study with complex conditions. The case study was checked only if you cleared the cutoff for the initial problem set (this is something I found out after joining) and the shortlist was released after the PPT on a rainy Monday evening.
I was only called in for one interview. It consisted of a few resume based questions, a range of clichéd HR questions and one fairly simple case study.
There was almost no contact with the company after selection (mid-August) except for when they asked us to fill out lengthy, greatly annoying forms multiple times. I think I get why nobody likes the HR department.
The office is located in Nirlon Knowledge Park, Goregaon East. The work timings are 1 to 10 pm, which, if you ask me, is not a boon, as it prematurely seems to be. Though nobody really keeps a tab on you so you can afford to be fashionably late. The company shuttle will pick you up/drop you off at the main gate. However, you could use the cab service if you want to be dropped off in front of your hostel gate (just give a second’s thought to the environment before you make that choice. I did too. I love the bass in a certain Innova). The onboarding process could use some innovation, and so can the canteen on the 8th floor, but there are many franchises nearby so I’m not going to get hung up on that. You shall all be working in Citi Retail Services, albeit for different teams (mostly). Many of your co-interns are going to be IITians and the same goes for the employees so you’re gonna feel right at home, ensured by the informal work culture (whatever little of it there is).
Your projects will be assigned to you within a week’s time from joining. Because it’s a bank and everything is extremely confidential (including Google Chrome, for no reason), expect to spend considerable time figuring out how to ‘raise accesses’ if you’re not tech savvy, which I am definitely not (this is where the onboarding team could have scored a few brownie points). We were promised a floor walk to introduce us to everyone in “the team” and considering it’s been over a month, I’m not really expecting one anymore (once again, the reposing onboarding team).
Citibank is among the top ten largest (Forbes) and the only standing global bank in the world (our floor president). We attended various sessions on how the company makes money and manages its various portfolios. So if you’re into banking and finance, here’s an opportunity to learn from the best. You are encouraged to ask for sessions on topics not covered in the planned ones (I completely made this one up, but I’m positive it’ll hold). Your project will involve machine learning so it won’t hurt to get a taste of it beforehand. I didn’t and it didn’t hurt anyway so it’s really up to you. You will be told to “learn” a lot of algorithms and methods but they don’t expect or need you to understand how or why they work. You just need to get a feel of what it does and when you can apply it. The algorithms themselves can be called through existing libraries so you don’t have to really do anything on that front. To be honest, I was a little disappointed by it, but since it was a relief in workload I’m not really adamant about the disappointment. The amount of work you’re given varies significantly and depends almost entirely on your supervisor (or his/her supervisor, depending on who likes making life harder).
Because it’s a data analytics profile, your work is back end so you’re going to be staring at a computer screen for long hours pretending to make sense of loads of data (the algorithms do that for you). A major chunk of your work might include downloading and sorting and cleaning and brushing and generally fondling the data till the code is convinced it looks pretty. If you’re a person who thrives on human interaction (I mostly talk about myself), you MIGHT want to rethink before you apply for a similar profile. But then, it’s up to you (and peer pressure) how choosy you want (or get) to be. On a very serious note, an earlier intern does not necessarily mean a “better” intern. I know it feels like the sooner the burden is off your shoulders the better, but if you feel like you can take it a bit longer, don’t just let the antecedence be the deciding factor.
The teams occasionally go out to celebrate (either I’ve been in the ‘prosaic’ team, or I wasn’t invited. The latter less likely, I like to believe). You can go on treks and road trips near Mumbai but I’m guessing if you were the type, you’d already be doing that. Citibank offers its employees, among other things, it’s card that one can use to avail various offers and discounts. Sadly, but not surprisingly, interns are not treated as employees. However, on an interesting note, Citibank does give out PPOs to interns who do well (terms, conditions and algorithms applied).
Things to take away from the internship:
Citibank provides flight tickets from your location to the location of internship so DO NOT book your tickets beforehand like I did.
You shall also be provided accomodation in a 5 star hotel (Hotel Trident in our case) for a couple of days. Take it. And the shampoo and body lotion (it’s technically FOR you).
Jokes apart, there is a lot to learn from this place and I’m looking forward to the second half of the internship. Work can be tiring and maybe not as exciting as life at IIT so be prepared for that. The people are friendly but the only real conversations I’ve had have been with co-interns or alumni. What I’m trying to say is just have very realistic expectations and you might end up actually liking the place. If there’s anything else you would like to know, feel free to contact me.