In this article, Anuvrat Shukla, a student of SIOM Nashik who interned at Accenture Applied Intelligence (Accenture Strategy & Consulting) Domain talks about his summer internship experience. Find out about how his onboarding process went, what his learnings are and his experiences during this internship.
Hi, Tell us about how you got selected for this internship? Take us through the moment you realized you had got the internship.
The selection process started with profile shortlisting. After shortlists, 20 people had to go through 2 rounds of Interviews.
Round 1 (Technical + Analytical)
Round 2 (Analytical + HR)
With a very weird combination of luck, seniors' guidance, God's grace, and my efforts, 4 got through and I was one amongst them. When I found out about this good fortune, I decided that I won't take that night for granted and started making a plan for myself so that I do not enter the company with a clean slate.
On joining the company as an intern, how has your onboarding experience been like?
Day 1 in the company was very graceful. HRs did not differentiate between Interns and Employees. It's just that we were more pampered (lol). We had fun activities and games hovering about the company, its work, and its values. Been already worked for an IT MNC for 2 years, I did not have much trouble in coping with the virtual setup.
How has your interaction with the team members and colleagues been like? How will you make sure to leave the best impression on your supervisors by the end of the internship?
Being in a virtual setup, It's challenging to decipher whether my mentor and manager are available to speak or not. So I try to check their availability in the calendar, collect all questions altogether and then ping them for a quick call. Further, every new person in the office I connect to, I try to get something new about their project/division. It helps to build my connections in the virtual setup. I also keep updating my mentor and manager with daily and weekly updates on my progress report over mails.
Tell us in brief, about the project you are currently working on and how is this project going to help the company?
My project is about to craft a cutting-edge asset for a retailer to help them by simulating and giving optimized results which ultimately help them to minimize costs and maximize profits provided all the constraints are met. Overall it's about solving Operations Research problems and the domain is Operations and Supply chain management among channel partners. This asset will help the client to minimize its transportation or shipping costs in the retail industry.
Give us an overview of how you prepared for your summer placement season.
Summer placement is a weird combination of effort, luck, your profile, and your ability to sell yourself in front of the recruiter. I already was in touch with the PPO holders for the companies I aspired to join. After I had a word with them, I figured out how to orient my profile according to the company requirements. Further, I also checked what are the skills (technical and analytical) required for a shortlist. Once I had that list, I spent few months of lockdown in mastering those skills with some hands-on. There were certain cutting-edge technologies that I learned are not known in the market, and that was maybe a key differentiator for me to crack the CV shortlisting and interview rounds. In a nutshell, I reached multiple stakeholders, alums, company people, seniors, faculties to gather information about the market trends and then tried to make a well-informed decision.
Based on your internship experience till now, what are some necessary skill sets one must be prepared with before starting an internship?
Before starting for internships, we should be well versed with the Job Description. I read my job description (Data Science Analyst) 3-4 times and made sure I do not miss any point in preparing myself once I onboard. These skills give one a good head start from fellow interns and make sure that you do not start with a clean state (especially in a WFH environment).
Some Important Technical skills (for me) were:
1) BI tools - Power BI/ Tableau/ Excel Advanced
2) Visualisation Tools - Dash and plotly
3)Programming language - Python and R
Other skills -
1) Be open-minded
2) Reach as many stakeholders as possible which you think will help you to make a better decision
Ultimately it's all about the decisions which we make at the start.
What are some new skills that you have developed while working in the company?
Since my project was more in building a cutting edge asset for Retail in Supply Chain Analytics and Operations Research, the domain knowledge which I gathered from research certainly increased my learning curve to a new level.
All the classroom knowledge of Supply Chain and Operations helped me to work on my project.
New skills developed:
1) Implementation of Google OR tools and python pulp.
2) How to work in Microsoft Azure workspace
What are some of the challenges that you have faced in your internship and how have you overcome them?
Certainly being in a WFH setup I expected some challenges, but there were some other challenges I ran into with respect to my project as well (as it was totally self-driven).
#1 Communication: By now everyone knows how challenging it becomes to reach out to someone (you don't know personally) virtually. You cannot just revolve your chair and reach out to any Manager/ Lead Data Scientist/ Data Science Principal like in the office. So I queued all my queries at one place and checked the calendars of senior management to fix a call and sort out all the queries at one go.
#2 Mentor: I had a trade-off between my mentor and an incredible project (:p). My mentor joined few days before me, so he had no clue about the work structure and my domain. That was one of the reasons until my mid-review I was still developing a tool on a theoretical problem. It was after my mid-review when a Data Science Manager identified my work and gave me a real client problem which was a notch up than what I was initially doing.
#3 Codes: My work involved dealing with multiple files as input and do data wrangling, integration followed by spitting out the results for the user. This integration of relevant records from the main dump was challenging as it involved a significant amount of time in data munging and restructuring.
# A Hypothetical Situation: Since my project was about transport route optimization and minimizing costs, I wanted to create a hypothetical situation to see how bad the cost figure will shoot up with 100 % demand fulfilment. I ridiculously increased the flow capacities (basically not considering it as a constraint) to 'try to achieve it but no luck. This led me to dwell on research papers where I learned that optimization algorithms are built on 'efficiency' over fairness. There will always be a tradeoff between the two and this hypothetical situation can't be achieved.
Tell us about a situation where you were complemented by your Manager for your work.
All my efforts were made with a mindset that my asset does not just sit on paper but it should have the potential to be implemented to some extent. As a result, the first version of my tool was already an end-to-end platform for the retail client. Before my mid-review, I was asked to show the asset which I developed to the Lead Data Scientist and she told me it was too good for the mid-review as no one has done it before as an end-to-end but only on excels.
However, my manager was not much excited as he wanted me to leverage the client data more (as that was the real problem) instead of developing an asset for a theoretical problem. It was then I realized that with the weeks left with me, I should devise a plan for the final deliverables. Once my business problem was redefined I again went up to my PM as this time they were more curious about the tool and appreciated me for the work.
What have been your major learnings during the internship?
#1 One thing I learned was that we try to build innovative solutions for their reusability. We don't want to start from scratch for a new client with a similar problem. This was challenging because I had to break thousands of lines of code and UI into different python files and folders so that anyone can take it as a Standard Operating Procedure without my help.
#2 While building a solution, one has to think from a client/user's perspective. What we will pitch to senior management is what senior management will pitch to the clients.
#3 It's not necessary to build completely perfect solutions, but it is always necessary to think in different dimensions before starting.
#4 Reaching out to people across the team at least helps you to know about other projects if not people.
Tell us about your final presentation of the project to your manager in brief. What was the toughest question asked during the presentation and how did you answer it?
My Final review went on for around 45 minutes. My entire team and Senior Management were present in my Final Review.
The Drill: I had had a drill of my final review again and again for the entire last week. With a killer PPT and a convincing pitch, I presented the same to my college seniors and some team members as a mock so that they can help me find out the cross-questions I can expect. This actually helped me to not only gather the questions expected but also gave me a flow of presenting. I refined my pitch and PPT again and again until all the feedbacks were taken care of. Thanks to each and every stakeholder involved in my project.
The Presentation- I bifurcated my entire allocated time into 2 major parts. The first half was the deck which I prepared with the Agenda; Into, Business Context, Deliverables, Dependencies, Overall methodology, Process Flow In Details followed by a live demo of the asset developed as a user.
During the first half, I walked them through the details explaining how I used 8 weeks to plan the deliverables and other technical details at the back end.
The latter half was when I switched my screen to the App website and showed them the demo of optimizing - analyzing and visualizing stats as a client.
In the interest of time, I quickly concluded the review with a couple of key learning from my internship journey.
The toughest question was I would say about the algorithm which I used. They asked what exactly does this algo optimizes, whether cost or flow in a network or both.
I was expecting this question as I myself was struggling to understand in the initial days how does Route Optimization algo works.
This answer was there in my deck which I showed them and explained the Route Optimization algos is built on 'efficiency' over 'fairness'. What does it mean? It means that If transport lanes have to be produced keeping all the business constraints met, it will optimize the cost and flow both but there will always be a trade off between the two and never can it optimize both to full capacity. Instead, it will optimize to the minimum possible cost with the maximum possible flow.
Some advice that you would like to give to your juniors based on your internship experience.
Some advice I can give are:
- Try to reach as many people as possible not only in your team but across the team. Help them in support activities at starting and slowly build your repo by playing on your strengths. It can be technical/ PPT skills/ communication/ analytical or a combo.
- Try to send daily/weekly activity reports to your mentor/supervisors, irrespective of whether they have time for you to acknowledge or not. This ensures that you stay in touch with them at least via emails if not in person.
- There would be times when you will be working alone and no one would be there around you for feedback. In those times, try to stay motivated and reach your college seniors, alums in the same company, or faculties. This applies if you are driving the project alone. That was my case.
- Try to reach your fellow interns of different colleges. They are also sailing the same boat and this helps you to have a good knowledge exchange
What was one of the best moments according to you during your internship?
The best moment I would say was after my Final Review. I got very good feedback from my teammates and manager for the asset I developed and pitched it so well. The entire endeavor for the 8 weeks was with a mindset that my work has at least have some potential to be implemented or scaled up.
TIMELINE, PROCESS AND RULES
- You don't need to register on InsideIIM.com or on the Kampus App to take part in Summer Saga Season 8. Simply share your experiences in the Digital Diary. To maintain standardisation, every Digital Diary will have a few questions that you'll need to answer.
- Access all the Digital Diaries forms from here: Digital Diary 1 | Digital Diary 2 | Digital Diary 3 | Digital Diary 4 | Digital Diary 5
- Your overall submission will be evaluated on the following parameters:
-Completeness: This depends on the number of Digital Diaries you have filled.
-Value Addition: This depends on how in-depth your answers have been. The score for this parameter will be given by our Judges.
-Reach: This depends on how many unique people have read your internship experience once we publish the article. We maintain fair play, we will publish all the articles on the same day, so that you can also share the same in your network.
- There is also a title called, ‘Campus With The Most Interesting Interns’ that will be awarded to (a) the campus that submits the maximum number of entries and (b) the campus that submits the best quality entries (based on the score given by our judges). The minimum entries from campus to be considered for this title is 10. So, if you want your campus to win the title then make sure your classmates and other students from your b school share their experiences in this year's Summer Saga Competition.
PRIZES TO WIN
This competition is broadly divided into four categories. Refer to the table below to know more about prizes in each category.
Banking and Finance
Sales, Marketing and General Management
HR, Consulting and Others
|1st Prize||₹ 10,000||₹ 10,000||₹ 10,000||₹ 10,000|
|Runner Up||₹ 5,000||₹ 5,000||₹ 5,000||₹ 5,000|
The 1st Prize winner will also get a one-hour 1-on-1 career guidance session with an industry stalwart, from our panel of mentors in Kounsel.
ABOUT THE JUDGES
Every year, we have Campus Managers from some of the top companies (such as Reliance, HSBC, Flipkart, ABG, HUL, TAS, etc) judging the annual Summer Saga competition. We will release the details of the judges of Summer Saga Season 8 soon!
Check out the previous year's winners!
Maybe this will help you reflect and recall these two months as well (which can come in handy when appearing for interviews in the future). InsideIIM is the perfect platform to chronicle your experiences, your highs, your lows and everything in between.
So guys, what are you waiting for? Start writing! You have a voice. You have the experience. Make the best of it!