PricewaterhouseCoopers – Samarth Agrawal

The internship season, though a worthwhile experience, can be brutal. It hits barely short of the Kobayashi Maru test, so good luck living long and prospering. You got to attend the Pre-Placement Talks (PPTs), do the hustle, take the company tests, survive the bustle; all of this tussle is even before the interviews. I already alluded to the rejections, didn’t I? Lose hope do not, young Padawan for this is exactly what we are here for! I’d be exploiting the next paragraph to brown nose the company I am interning at so exercise your freedom to gloss over if you wish.

So, hello there! My name is Samarth Agrawal, a final year B.Tech. undergraduate from Mechanical Department. I am currently interning at PricewaterhouseCoopers Pvt. Ltd. which happens to be the second largest professional services firm in the world and when it comes to the auditing firms, also one of the Big Four. PwC is organised to work in three service lines- Advisory, Assurance and Tax; I serve the Advisory line. I was initially hired as a trainee in Technology Consulting but looking further into my interests, the firm deemed fit to let me into Management Consulting.

Getting There

I dived into the pool of internship season just like most of us do: wearing only the costume of cluelessness. The only thing I had decided was to not swim in the waters of Core! I had done a core project in my sophomore summer where I learnt many things but one that stuck was that Core was not my cup of tea. Most of the companies implicitly expect coding knowledge, at least those coming in the first month, and from my freshman year experience, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy drinking from it either. The first company having a pure consulting background was PwC. God knows why, but PwC opens only for CSE, Electrical and Mechanical students. I quickly signed the IAF and waited for the shortlist. How I almost missed writing its aptitude test is a story better aired another time and better heard from my roommate.

Nesco IT Park. Can you spot the Starbucks where my boss casually asked me for a coffee and I agreed?
Nesco IT Park. Can you spot the Starbucks where my boss casually asked me for a coffee and I agreed?

The company test involved simple math and aptitude. Nine candidates were shortlisted with my being quite possibly the ninth. That might’ve disheartened me if not for my love for Pipin, one of my all time favorite characters. At that time, Mumbai was drowning in rains so my first round of interview was taken via Skype. Slicing through the simple introduction and puzzles, I got selected in the second shortlist of four. Later, my exhilaration was also sliced when I was informed that the process would continue the following day. I don’t know about the grasshopper but patience is a skill I’ve yet to acquire. The next day, my IC informed of another aptitude test where all four candidates were shortlisted. The HR walked us through the company (a short PPT) and its expectations. This was followed by the second round of interview- the HR round. It involved the basic questions around my motivation for consultancy, that for PwC, my strengths and weaknesses, and some situational questions. I would like to dedicate almost all of my answers to the founders of Quora for providing such a great platform. A short piece of advice here, writing multiple answers (while preparing) for a single question definitely helps!

After somehow miraculously cracking that, my third round was a forty-five minute long telephonic conversation revolving around technical and HR, that roped in some not-so-simple thermodynamics and HR questions. The results were declared then and there itself.

Pre-Internship

At first contact, we were asked to fill out city preferences. I may be fatally wrong but it seems man has gotten so deeply entangled in his own entanglements that we have to prepare a pro-con list for a decision as reflective as getting placed in Mumbai. Then came the letter from Hogwarts aka my offer letter. One thing I hate is the company form that comes attached with practically every document and requires arranging documents, proofreading the quantum details, disturbing the HRs and co-interns again and again. If one ever forgets the definitions of ‘long’ and ‘tedious’, note exhibit A: company form.

Induction Program

Standing close to the window of a high rise corporate building, barely withholding the view of the sea is, for lack of a better word, breathtaking. Such was my mindset on Day 1 and 2 at the reporting office, twenty-two km from our campus. Oh, what I’d give to live again those days of youth! The excitement of turning a new page came coupled with the anxiety of beginning a new chapter. What to wear? What to speak? Good morning or Valar Morghulis? The 2-day induction program was an experience unto itself. The documentation process was bearable but if you are under an impression of escaping the boredom of 8AM lectures, the long presentations are then meant to surprise you, if that’s in their capacity. We were allotted our office locations, buddies and Project Managers. Then came our internship kits, which for a fact, deserved an instagram!

Workplace

My office is located on the 8th floor, Nesco IT Park, Goregaon(E) in a fourteen storied building that redefines elegance and beauty. The office premise is enormous with a slight hustle bustle. There are no cubicles, only tables and partitions with one team between two partitions. About the eateries, they have only one, sufferable. Maybe it’s the child within me but free biscuits and a coffee machine always work a charm!

Somewhere between the reception and my desk
Somewhere between the reception and my desk

The people here are genuinely helpful, sweet and caring. There’s a rumor that the Big Fours have a great office culture- you didn’t hear it from me but I think some rumors are true. The camaraderie here is something to vie for. 80% of the people here are millennials. My team harbors 5-6 permanent employees, 2-3 contract staff and one Project Manager.

Very comfy chairs near the reception where the clients wait
Very comfy chairs near the reception where the clients wait

Locomoting is a phase worthy of discussion of its own. This internship has led me to experiment with all possible permutations of the plausible modes of transport – cabs, BEST buses, AC buses, trains and auto rickshaws. Cabs (mornings blah!) were dearly exasperating, locals and buses trying, and AC buses can’t be found on Google Maps. Working for 9 straight hours and travelling in a packed local bus wearing formals can teach a man the toughest of the life lessons. If not, then one can always kill time plotting hypothetical murders of strangers!

Work

The working hours are pretty flexible: minimum 8 “working” hours a day, mostly 9:30AM to 6PM. The first week was mostly free, we ended up doing just nothing. In the second week, we got some elearns, and damn independence! These corporate firms really have some huge list of clauses and rules. The one port of salvation is your co-intern with whom you can chill and bitch about the company and the boss. Co-interns are one big, healthy part of the internships. I didn’t have any.

The view from the window near my workplace
The view from the window near my workplace

I was a part of BASIS- a team of technology consultants. We work on a software called SAP (Systems, Applications and Products). It is the world’s number one software in ERP market. SAP system consists of a number of fully integrated modules, which covers virtually every aspect of the business management. The modules I worked are- BASIS and Materials Management. The third week was basically understanding SAP software.

The role of a SAP BASIS consultant is to provide technical support and leadership on SAP BASIS systems including establishing standards and requirements, implementing solutions for performance monitoring, and systems configuration, design and implementation. My assigned role was very basic and rudimentary- System monitoring. System monitoring is a daily routine activity and this document provides a systematic step by step procedure for Server Monitoring. It gives an overview of technical aspects and concepts for proactive system monitoring. This was not what I was expecting from my internship, and so was understood by my Manager, so he shifted me to Materials Management.

Whenever you feel like sleeping, this is the perfect place
Whenever you feel like sleeping, this is the perfect place

Materials Management was the thing I was looking for- very interesting and useful. Materials Management is a technique concerned with the Planning, Purchasing, Inventory managing and Controlling the flow of Material in an optimum manner in order to minimise the cost. It took me around 2 weeks just to go into the core and prepare a presentation on the same for which I was critiqued by my team members.

Three weeks before the conclusion, I was allotted a real ‘project’. SAP Business Suite has launched a new product called SAP S/4HANA and every company working on SAP base has to migrate to S/4HANA by 2025. My project is to publish a white paper that helps companies not to tell ‘if’ they want to migrate to a different system, but when and how. This will involve preparing a questionnaire for the companies who already migrated and to analyse that data using different analysis methods and visually present the three simple answers- benefits, resistance and motivation. This project involves literature survey, market survey and data analytics.

The Final Words…

Overall, I can say, working in one of the Big Four Corporate firms can be one hell of an experience. Things I learnt here were how to pass time (in initial 2 weeks), and how to schedule the day properly befitting all meals, personal commitments, social life and above all, proper rest. There are two ends of the spectrum- Monday mornings and Friday eves, balancing the things between them can make things easy.

So now that only 2 weeks are remaining for the semester to start, a small piece of advice – never get depressed after rejections. Not all students who cracked day 1 are happy, neither the people who cracked the intern in the last week of April are sad. Building resumes can be tough, but after all, it is one piece of paper. The internship process for every company is different (and random) – just a way to shortlist one hand full of people out of dozens, and trust me not all selected are deserving and not all not-selected are non-deserving. Just contact the seniors who interned in the same company before preparing for it and be self-confident, you will definitely do your best!

All the best and thank you for reading!!

3 years ago