Hi everyone! Hope all of you are doing just fine. Right now, I’m not. I’m writing this article just after my mom cut my hair short, because apparently half of my problems can be traced back to me having long hair (the other half, to me using mobile ‘all the time’ – I know, parents are really good that way!). I was obviously unwilling to get the haircut, but I’ve been told that this’ll be a substantial weight off my head, and is for my own good. Ummm, doesn’t really feel so. Nevertheless, moving on to the introduction.
I’m Akshat Raj Lad. And that’s the introduction (explosion heard!).
Damn, it sounds pompous. Maybe one day it’ll be enough. This was intended to be cheeky, and not narcissistic/rude. Sorry for this, like legit apologies😅. Now the actual introduction – I’m Akshat Raj Lad, third year undergraduate student (Dept. of Mechanical Engg.). I’m also pursuing a minor degree in Management from SJM School of Management. I’m a member of Team AUV-IITB, and have been associated with Insight’s Data Team in the past. I enjoy pretty much all kinds of creative activities, but am not exceptionally skilled at any of them, and am extremely unskilled when it comes to sports – one thing I’d like to necessarily improve upon. This article would (at least, should) revolve around my third-year internship with Deutsche Bank (broadly speaking, around the internship selection process).
I was a little unsure about what kind of audience would turn up for this article. I even asked this to the Insight PoC. And then we were both unsure😐. A broad classification (of the audience) I could come up with was –
- Here for internship insights and selection-process/interview tips
- Here for a good/decent read
- Have nothing better to do 🙂
To the best of my capabilities, I’ll try to engage all of you. This attempt invariably opens me to an exposure, where failing everyone’s expectations is the most likely outcome. I’ll try nevertheless, cause ‘we miss 100% of the shots we don’t take’ (that’s lesson number 1; I won’t explicitly point out other ‘lessons’ :P).
Rolling back to late-July/early-August 2019. God those days were good! The fifth sem begins with the internship season over your head. There’s a decent amount of excitement in the air (a decent amount of nervousness and fear as well). Few weeks into the semester and the deadline for resume submission starts closing in. Soon enough, there are introduction sessions of a few companies. And before you know it, you’re waiting outside a room, sweating in your formals.
I did not have it all sorted regarding what kind of internship I would like to do. Wanted to explore a new territory (experienced Business Analytics in the sophomore year, and Mech-core was kinda covered by being in a tech-team). The first set of companies that come to IITB for internships are Consult+IB+FMCG (+Software/IT, which I knew would be a long shot for me). I couldn’t really make up a clear preference in my mind, and ended up applying for all of them.
A bit about Deutsche Bank (DB). DB is one of the consistent companies which have been coming to IITB for recruiting summer interns. This year DB came for hiring interns in the Investment Banking Division (not confident about other years, but I’m pretty sure it is always so). DB came on ‘Day 1’, along with FMCG and consulting firms. Funny how the ‘Day 1’ was itself spread across 3-4 days (and then another ‘Day 1 (IT)’). First, DB took a test to determine company fit. And then a resume based shortlist was released. Post this, there were 3 rounds of interviews. The first round included a few questions based on my resume and some questions on probability. Second round – a quick discussion over the resume, few questions related to stats, and 2-3 puzzles (recall being asked about my coding proficiency in R1 or R2 – and also them stating, in the interview or in the presentation, that it isn’t a necessary requirement). As far as the puzzles are concerned, what I’ve heard, and it does feel so, is that the interviewers tend to focus more on the interviewee’s approach, rather than the answer. Third round was almost entirely HR based – again a quick discussion over the resume, and then why finance, motivation, key strengths, and likes.
I recall this interview week being one of the most hectic weeks I’ve ever had. Had FMCG GDs and late-night interviews on Tuesday, then another set of interviews on Wednesday morning. DB’s interview process on Thursday. And then consult interviews on Friday evening, for which I wasn’t even half prepared (literally just read a few case interviews). Had missed almost all meals for quite a few days, and boy, was I missing my sleep. Not to mention that the academics were not on hold – so classes and labs were still in place. And therefore ended up messing a quiz too. My DB interview was initially scheduled for around 10 or 11 in the morning, which got delayed, and then shifted (now the last slot, around 1 PM), and then again delayed to around 3 PM. I kinda broke down waiting, realising how I could have used this time for so many other things, and called home saying – “…I’m not sure whether I want to sit for this interview…”. Funny how things work out. That was probably hunger, lack of sleep, and frustration talking, but I had to vent it out, and be re-motivated before I stepped into the room. Breaking down once in a while is fine, as long as you know how to fix it.
Post knowing the results, I was most certainly elated beyond expression. I wanted this opportunity to explore the finance industry and to find out whether I’ll be a good fit or not. Apart from offering me the experience of working in an IB, it would have also helped me narrow down my choices (paths to pursue in the future) to some extent.
Fast forward to March 2020. Corona created an oblivion atmosphere where everything seemed unpredictable. Insti had to shut down, and then the summer vacations were preponed. Things were a little uncertain for a while, but I must say that DB did a commendable job. We (me and my amazing co-interns!) informed DB about the decisions IITB took. They were extremely understanding and almost immediately shifted our dates. We were merged with the IIM interns and were now supposed to join them from 6 April, virtually (WFH – through Citrix Virtual Desktops).
First week was basically online training sessions covering various concepts of finance. And for the next 7 weeks, we were supposed to work with our desks. I was assigned the FX Trading Desk (all interns had different desks, and therefore, quite different work). I got an extremely amazing guide, also an IITB alum, who diligently explained to me everything our desk does. Exact specifics of my project are irrelevant (also, compliance issues). Broadly speaking, I was involved in development of a tool for traders (on Excel), and an exploratory project (involving forecast methods). The Excel tool required implementation of macros/VBA, something I wasn’t even aware of, but also something which isn’t very difficult (some logic + CS101 knowledge + Stack Overflow, and you’re done). The exploratory project primarily consisted of time series analysis and vector auto-regression approach (all modelling was done using Python, but language was no bar over here).
The internship experience at DB was fun. Working hours were quite flexible. My guide used to be on the desk from 8 AM to 6 PM, I preferred 11 AM to 7 PM, and then 10 PM to midnight. Time wasn’t an issue as long as I could take up all the calls scheduled for the day, and complete all my tasks. I had daily calls with my guide, 1 hour +/-, where we’d discuss my progress, he’d clear my doubts, and then general discussion (mostly around the world of finance, and some random stuff at times). Overall work came in waves. 3 days out of 5 would be quite busy, and then 2 days, comparatively chill. Apart from work, we had various sessions with Managers and VPs of other desks, to get an overview of various divisions. Work from home did not pose any direct challenge per se. There were few connectivity issues here and there. Installation and set-up was a big pain initially. But in hindsight, those troubles were trivial. I guess we might have had an even better exposure, and I might have got a chance to wear my suit🙈, had the internship been in-person, but given the times, I’m in no position to complain.
That would be a brief overview of how things went with DB. Some of you might also be interested in interview tips. Here are my few cents –
- Be extremely thorough with your resume. This is quite easy, as you’ve literally done those things. Maybe we can rephrase it like this – Avoid having content on your resume about which you aren’t confident.
- Be completely honest while answering. Some might prefer preparing for HR questions like ‘Why XYZ field?’ or ‘Why XYZ company?’, or ‘Strengths and weaknesses’. Some might prefer being spontaneous. Either way, just try to give a genuine answer, if asked. **These are questions you might want to think about even before applying for a particular internship😅.
- Manifest confidence works like a charm. However, it is also important to note that confidence and arrogance have a very thin line in between. Being humble and grateful at all times would help you avoid falling in the red zone.
And my last interview tip, probably the most important one, would be that you must make sure, and please do not enter the interview-room until and unless you are extremely, completely, one-hundred percent confident about it, that your pant’s zip is properly done.
To be completely honest, I believe failure is more consistently transferable than success. What worked for me, might not work for you; but you can surely learn from my mistakes.
- Try to clear-up your mind (what you want to do in your third year) in the summer vacation period itself. This isn’t easy, especially when quite a few fields seem unexplored and interesting. Nevertheless, try to put in some effort, and maybe come up with a priority list. It’ll help you in avoiding confusions.
- Try to apply only in the fields of your interest. Avoid getting driven by peer pressure, and least of all, the stipend. You’ll probably end up saving a lot of time and can prepare better for things/fields in which you are genuinely interested.
- If you’ve decided your field of interest, it is advisable to start the preparation early – maybe after you’ve signed up for that particular internship (if not before). Still, if it seems too early, for God’s sake please start preparing once the short-list is released. Do not wait for one day before the interview. You’ll just end up with loads of things to do, and a wish to do just nothing.
That being said, it is perfectly fine (and rather natural) to be unsure, underprepared, and for that matter, even rejected. It’s not a big deal, the opportunities keep on coming. However, being under-confident (about yourself) and unenthusiastic (about the process) are sins you should try to stay away from.
Lastly, the secret to eternal happiness (especially during the intern-season; works decently well in general). Cut short on your expectations (of getting ‘good’ results). This makes us uncomfortable; it isn’t easy to put in efforts for something, and then not be anxious about the outcome. But soon enough (much like me now), you would realize it is essentially a weight off your head, and for your own good. Work as hard as you can, prepare as much as you can, perform as well as you can, and that’s it. Try to control your expectations, and avoid associating your happiness solely with the results. Believe it or not, half of your problems can be traced back to it (the other half, cause you’re using mobile all the time, duh).
Thanks a lot for reading the article! Hope everyone gained some information, some inspiration, some motivation, or at least some smiles. If there’s anything else anyone wants to discuss, feel free to ping me. Keep smiling, stay home, stay safe :).