An Intern Diary
I sit here writing this blog on a pleasant Saturday morning with thoughts brimming about the last 6 weeks in Bangalore. The stay has been interesting and has thrown great light about the life of people in Bangalore – humongous tech parks, numerous MNCs, daily rains, horrible traffic jams, unruly auto drivers and bikers and myriad high-end restaurants.
In the fourth semester, I was looking for projects under professors in the institute for the summers. I was too lazy to app to professors in foreign universities and was not hoping to get an internship from a tech company. I was just filling JAFs that came from the placement cell and was least concerned about being shortlisted. But, I was shortlisted for a telephonic interview with Philips. The shortlisting (I guess) was done on the basis of CPI and coding projects done by a person. The interview was hardly 15 minutes long in which I was extensively asked about my WnCC Seasons of Code project related to image processing and about my knowledge of machine learning (which was considerably meagre). Philips came up with the first list of selected candidates in which my name wasn’t present and promised to come with another list. I was least bothered and life went on until the other list was up and it said I was selected. We were a total of 6 interns chosen from the computer science and electrical engineering department and we were all sophomores.
I was happy that I got through and I started preparing for the internship. Philips never communicated any specific skills that we were to learn before the internship. Out of interest,
I explored machine learning python libraries like scikit-learn and data manipulation python libraries like pandas.
The accommodation was not going to be provided by Philips. Fortunately, I have some close relatives in Bangalore who helped all six of us to get a PG near the tech park where Philips Innovation Campus is located. The internship was going to begin on 8th of May, so I had some time after the end semester exams to go home and be with my parents. Also, since the internship started off from the 8th of May, I had time to go to home and spend some time with my parents.
Working at Philips
Philips Innovation Campus is a piece of beauty with amazing exteriors and spacious interiors. The laptops (ancient HP laptops with Windows7) provided by the company soon reduced the awe of the workplace. Moving on, we met our project managers and were allocated projects. The projects were diverse and were of varying difficulty. They were majorly based on machine learning, web semantics, signal processing and AR/VR and their applications in medical sciences. I was expecting a project based on machine learning (the interview did focus a lot on machine learning) but I got a project related to web semantics. It is highly likely that you would have never heard of this term. To put it in short, web semantics is an amazing field of artificial intelligence to teach machines to understand data on web.
Philips hired about 20 undergraduate interns from different IITs and IIITs. The interns had decent amount of interaction with each other and we guys from IIT Bombay had a lot of interaction with interns from IIT Delhi (we share the same PG). A usual working day consists of taking a 20 minute walk to the office, having a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, working on a problem or learning the basics, having lunch at the cafeteria, working again and then sweating in the gym or playing table tennis or returning straight back to the PG. The work at Philips Research is usually not very fast paced, so it can be finished in the office itself which provides considerable time to pursue hobbies, do some online courses or watch TV at the PG.
Philips is an amazing company but there is a lacuna in the manner in which logistics, finance and other non technical things are handled. Important resources for machine learning applications like GPUs and machines with RAM greater than 8GB or virtual reality kits took days to arrive. The HR department takes a lot of time to reply to even important queries related to stipends or the ending date of the internship. I hope they’ll improve soon.
Enjoying in Bangalore
There are several places to visit in and near the city. We had a gala time visiting Mysore which is a three hour journey from Bangalore. There are many tourist locations like Puducherry, Ooty and Hampi which take around 7 hours from Bangalore and we plan to visit Puducherry soon. Pubs, restaurants and discotheques are abound in the city but many of them mandate couple entries. Thankfully, ….. that still leaves us with plethora of restaurants to visit.
Doing a research intern at a tech company provides a lot of insight about real life application of our academic knowledge. The ideas that fuel research come from the basics we learn in the institute but the implementation requires software skills that each person has to develop on their own. One also observes the lag between development of new ideas in academia and their acceptance in the commercial world. Moreover, one learns how soft skills especially communication skills add value to the work accomplished. Such an intern is essential for everyone who wishes to pursue a job in the core sector.
The internship at Philips taught me a lot. Philips Innovation Campus, Bangalore is a good place to intern if someone is passionate about applying computational knowledge to solve medical problems.