Savita Kotamraju is a current student at IIM Ranchi. She hails from Hyderabad, Telangana and completed from Electrical and Electronics Engineering. She has worked as Research Engineer before pursuing MBA at IIM Ranchi. Apart from having an excellent academic record, she has always involved herself in sports, music and other extra-curricular activities.
In this interview, Savita takes us through her experience during the internship at Cognizant and provides insights into how she bagged the PPO.
Mahantesh: Tell us in brief about how you prepared for summer placement interviews?
Savita: To be very frank, I wasn’t quite aware of what to prepare and what not. I was so desperate to crack the interview, no matter what. I had already prepared everything that was mentioned in my resume, especially updates on my extra-curricular achievements and work experience. I made sure that I revised all the concepts of HR that we were taught till that point of time. But, getting placed during summer internship had not been so easy for me. I sat through many interviews, and repeated failures made me feel a bit low. I lost hope. But my parents supported me through this phase.
And the next day, I had the Cognizant company interview. After analyzing what was going wrong in my interview, I understood a few weak areas that I had to work on. It was GK. I am terrible at GK, and that made my days tough every single time. So, this time I made sure I at least had a basic idea of what was going around the world. Finally, I chose to read a bit about the history of the company and about the companies that it acquired recently. I made a note of points that were unique to the company. I was prepared for questions like “What according to you makes this company unique?”
I think the preparation for summer internship starts with what is in your resume – the academics, the achievements you mentioned, the work experience you have and how do you think that will help in you performing at this company. Then, I would definitely emphasize the importance of knowing in and out of the company. I do think that pulling strings to get a few contacts and speaking to them can give uniqueness to your answers and help you better understand the company culture.
M: What is the summer internship process like for Cognizant?
A: I would say that the process that was followed was one differentiating factor where their experience as a company played a significant role. It was a quite sorted process. They kept us engaged through mails and some skype sessions, even before we went for our summer internship. They had assigned us mentors before-hand so that we can interact and get a bit comfortable talking to them and getting a few necessary details about the company. We had an excellent induction program, where we could meet the leadership of Cognizant and get their views. We also had a few ice breakers to ease our interaction with interns of other colleges. To make the environment lighter, we had Zumba session and a few games. All this helped us build a bond with co-interns. We were then asked to report to our respecting offices and get to know our projects and meet our mentors. The company had later sent us a feedback form as well and had taken inputs on how the whole process was and what could have been better.
M: What are the reasons you think you cracked the interview?
A: That is a pretty tricky question to answer because I could not understand it till date. I had attended three interview rounds in the process. My answers were better to all the questions asked in two interview rounds. They were mostly based on the company and my experience. They had also asked a few questions in HR, which I could answer. But, the last interview round was, in my opinion, a disaster. I was asked about a certain kind of leader, which I wasn’t aware of. I said that we weren’t taught about it. All my further questions were based on leadership, and I couldn’t answer any of them except for telling the basic two types of leaders – one leader who rules and the other who is more of a people leader, who shows the path by following what they say. I still cannot comprehend what went so well in the last round, but I think it was just my confidence that I maintained. I didn’t let that dissatisfaction of not answering the questions come on my face. I think when sometimes nothing seems to be working, your confidence can be a saviour.
M: Tell us about your day to day work as an intern at Cognizant?
A: It was always a new experience. Every single day, I had something to look forward to. The best thing that kept me going was that – I was asked to prepare a timeline for the project I was assigned. It had my planning of how I want to go about the project. This acted as my guide throughout the internship period. It sometimes acted as a stress creator and sometimes served as a motivator. After all, we are more committed to things that we set of ourselves! We have an NDA policy at Cognizant, so I cannot disclose the project details, but few things I did daily was:
- Researching on what value I can add to the project
- Trying to get contacts that will help me in finishing the project
- Discussing with my mentor of what I am doing and what I wish to do next
- Consulting with other associates about the project and taking their view
M: What did you do right to achieve the PPO from Cognizant?
A: I think there were three primary reasons behind me getting a PPO from Cognizant. First, the amount of research I did on the topic. I went through various research papers and talked to multiple people of what their company was doing in a given context. I gathered a lot of information and this added validity to my recommendations as well. Second, the way you present your findings. Choosing an apt style that can represent all the information you want to convey is as crucial as the information in itself. Lastly, it is also essential to add your tinge to the project. In my case, I tried to implement whatever I studied back at college and modified it according to the need to create something new. I think these three reasons acted as a backbone to the successful completion of my project.
M: What are the most cherishable moments of your internship?
A: Well, it is difficult to name a few. But yes, I will name a few. It was the first time being in Chennai and sharing a room with my friend Srishti. That was a new experience for me. We developed such a close bonding that we missed each other at places if we weren’t together. We cooked food for ourselves, distributed work and most of all, supported each other. We lived in a PG, but it was more of a home for me. Another moment was that of induction itself. I am an introvert and had lots of new faces around and had to work with them. I realized then that I started to mingle with new people more comfortable than before.
The places we friends visited in Chennai, celebrating birthdays and many more incidents added to my memories. All I can say is that these memories can never fade away, and they bring a smile on my face whenever I think of them.
LinkedIn: Savita Kotamraju