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How it all began:
I was one of those third year guys, searching in all directions for internships, and what kind of internships to do in the upcoming summers. For someone like me who was very desperate to have a corporate experience, Qualcomm came as a good opportunity through the PT Cell, in late September.
For the uninitiated, Qualcomm is one of those companies whose products you use everyday. They are the ones who design the Snapdragon processors, which are crucial for the running of almost any smartphone in the market nowadays. They also own loads of essential patents which need to be respected for the manufacturing of any smartphone.
The interview and selection procedure:
Qualcomm opened up their Software and Hardware profiles on the internship portal. They conducted an online test for the applicants, based on basic programming skills, logical reasoning and a few electrical topics. You might find the test somewhat difficult since the time will be against you. After the online tests, I had two rounds of interview – one technical and one HR.
The technical one focussed on a few of my projects done in my vacations and a few boolean-algebra questions. The interview was a ‘chill’ one, where the interviewer mainly checked your interest to learn and ability to adapt to what they want you to do. The interviewer saying “You look very interested to work at Qualcomm” during the interview, was enough for me to understand I had got through. The HR round was all about why I wanted to join Qualcomm, my strengths, weaknesses and about what my plans after graduation were. I got selected in the Software profile, and was posted to intern at the Hyderabad Centre. Life was ‘peace’, once again.
Pre-intern Preps? Zero!
This came as a pleasant surprise to me. I did not have to bother about any logistical issue of my intern. The company tries to give you the best experience you can ever get. They gave us free to-and-fro flight tickets, a 3 BHK air-conditioned flat (shared by 6 people) with TV and a refrigerator, 3 meals everyday and free transportation. The treatment they give you is in itself something which you would have never experienced and will make you wonder what you did to deserve such good treatment. The company will take all kinds of efforts to make the stay as comfortable as possible.
The internship started off with a few ramp-up sessions by the HR people and the senior-officials from the company. I had around 80 co-interns at the Hyderabad office from various IITs and NITs. For the whole of the internship, the interns were assigned a team, a manager and a mentor to whom we had to report to.
I was assigned to the Product Commercialisation Team, which essentially looked after the entire lifecycle of the product (here, chipset) which they manufacture. My work was to implement a few features in the tools they use to track or monitor these products’ stages, after they are released. Through the project, I learnt about the lifecycle of the chipset and the various processes involved in its manufacture. We would have regular online meetings with people from the San Diego office who would be reviewing our progress and guiding us in our project. With this project almost over, and roughly half my stay still left, I would be allotted another one in the same area.
Although the work is inclined towards the software side, I had regular and interesting sessions of technical trainings where we were taught about the various subsystems that went into the Snapdragon chipsets. Normally, these sessions were not publicised to the interns. But with my mentor being keen on me learning about the subsystems, he kept me informed about such sessions. Also, there was a vast amount of resources available on their intranet, which would be a good pastime as well. And apart from that, we had a few talks with the senior managers in the company, in which we were told about the organisation, its functioning, revenue models and so on.
As far as the work culture is concerned, the company is very casual and informal about it. You can often see your manager and mentor roaming around, having light chats with the me or other people in the team, and subtly asking for updates of the work in those casual chats. Before any modifications to the project, my mentor would always take my feedback about it, to ensure we were on the same side. He gladly accommodated the modifications I gave. Unaware about our characteristic to pull off great things in a single night, he took great care in ensuring I had a lot of time to learn and implement the stuff I needed for my project.
The other perks of the intern:
I cannot stress enough as to how well Qualcomm treats it’s employees. In our 2 month stay here, we were taken for an amazing day-long Wonderla (amusement park) trip, and will be taken for an NGO visit as well.
Apart from that, there is a competition called IdeaQuest, in which all the interns can participate, where you can pitch an innovative idea that has the possibility to benefit the company. If selected, a prototype of the idea has to be presented by a team in an exhibition of sorts, which a majority of the company comes to see. The winners of the competition have been promised a Snapdragon-powered device as a prize. Since my friend’s idea got selected to be presented as a prototype, a lot of time is spent working on that.
As if all this was not enough to like the company, the office also has Gym facilities, snooker tables and an unlimited supply of hot-beverages and cold drinks. It also has rooms with reclining sofas and bunk-beds where you could go and doze off for a while. Not getting laptops nor getting access to VPN meant that no work was to be done from home. All the time after office hours (which are usually short and unmonitored) was spent playing snooker or other random games back at the accommodation.
The only downside (for me) was the city. Having visited Hyderabad quite a few times before, there was nothing much for me to explore here. But I still enjoy a lot owing to my co-interns, both from IITB as well as other colleges. With almost everyone stationed in the same apartment, it felt like being in insti, only with much better rooms and food and different people..
The temperature here might be scary (with the levels hitting 40 degrees celsius quite regularly) at the starting, but air-conditioned rooms and offices are there to save your day. That said, we did visit the iconic places in the city, like the Golconda Fort, the Hussain Sagar Lake and the Salar Jung Museum on the weekends. A few weeks down the line, the temperatures came down, climate became very pleasant, with a good mix of rains in between.
Some serious stuff:
With a highly informal work culture, very good living conditions and loads of stuff to learn at the internship, no wonder it has been a great start for me and my career. Although everything was not what I was exactly expecting, it sure has given me a very good taste of corporate life. I am pretty sure that this will be one of those summers I will look back upon, and be happy with the decision I made.