Thursday, December 6, 2012

Placements Placements!

This is a direct cross-post from Quora for those rare non Quora users who might chance upon my blog.

What is it like to sit for placements on December 1st?

What is the overall experience of a student on placement day? How was it like at the end of the day, depending on whether you got shortlisted or no, and how were the consequent days. In general, how was the entire placement "season" experience for you?

My answer :

Nicely framed question I would say. Especially, the "how were the subsequent days?" part.
I am afraid my answer won't be a representative one, but hope it would be interesting.

Background information:
I am from Computer Science and Engineering department and at the end of the first day, I had offers from the following 6 companies
  1.     Google US
  2.     Goldman Sachs India
  3.     Microsoft India
  4.     Samsung India
  5.     Samsung US / Korea
  6.     Tower Research India
I ended up choosing Google.

Here's how it all was...
Sometime around 27th November :
I realized that all my calculations for placement preparations went wrong. Even after the end semester exams got over, Natural Language Processing course extended beyond the semester and we were supposed to attend presentations for 4 hours a day for two days. As if it was not enough to know that you have to count 8 hours less for your placement preparations, then came the next shock: November has just 30 days! All along, I had been counting 28, 29, 30, 31 : 4 full days for placement preparation, and the realization hit quite hard. Suddenly 32 whole hours had vanished from the placement-preparation time.

30th November:
Yahoo! Had conducted a written test in the evening, based on which they shortlisted candidates for programming round. I couldn't get through. It was quite a blow to my confidence on the day just before placement began. Disappointed and dejected, I was considering of extending my stay at campus so that I will be able to attend interviews for even day 4 companies. Not having prepared because of the overall bad taste left in the mouth, I slept off early, afraid and scared of the next day: "the day"!

1st December:
Followed by a horrifying dream, I had a highly inspirational dream, without going into details, let me just say that the crux of the dream was "Think of tomorrow as a 'make or break' thing. You can do it. Just put your best." I woke up. Time was 4:30 and I was full of the make-or-break feeling. I opened the big thick CLRS (algorithms and data structures book). After writing quite a lot of written tests for various companies, and going through some programming rounds, I knew which data structures and algorithms I needed to look up. Hash tables in particular.

Soon it was 6:30 and it was time to dress up, and go attend interviews. By this time, somehow, I was full of confidence (was it the dream?), enthusiasm and optimism. What followed was 18 hours of shuttling between companies and interviews. By night 12:30, I had attended 19 interviews, and had received offers from 6 companies. Obviously, there was no food involved. The whole day could be described as a series of the two things: interviews and inter-interview time.

Interview:
All my interviews (except a couple) were technical interviews. Almost in each one, I had to tell what I did during my internships at Yahoo! and Facebook, what projects I have worked on. Pretty boring stuff. Just imagine, telling the same thing over and over again more than 10 times in the same day, simultaneously sounding enthusiastic. Many questions followed a similar monotone : arrays of integers, do something with them, biased coins and their tosses, trees and recursive algorithms, writing code on paper and explaining it to the interviewer, solving mathematical and logical puzzles etc.

Interviews varied from very easy to very challenging. Some interviewers were impressed by JEE rank and CGPA while some did not give it even a second glance. Some interviewers were interested in the projects I did and asked detailed questions about it, while some were just interested in whether I can solve the problem they have given me.

Remember hash tables I had just read about in the morning? I just could not contain my happiness when in more than 4 interviews I found them useful and the interviewer was impressed by knowledge of those.

The most distracting part was that almost throughout all the interviews, my phone kept buzzing, telling me that I am supposed to be in some other interview(s) too! So much so for applying to too many companies...

Inter-interview time:
Almost every time, I had to pick and choose between which company interview to attend next, and run to that place. Samsung interview in particular, was in a place quite far away from all other company interviews. I had to literally run for the interview all the way. Worst part? The soles of my shoes came off! Panting and limping, I had finally reached the place where I would be offered the supposedly highest paying job of this year.

Best part? The placement coordinators (who are also students) are extremely helpful. I was just surprised by the extent they can go to help you out. When I was getting late for an interview, which was in another building, they got me a cab! Always cheerful and comforting, they kept me motivated with conversations varying from "You are on roll today!" to "Dude, cheer up, this was just one interview, I know you would not have done as bad as you seem to think. You have more to attend. You will crack them!" Placement coordinators: some of the best behaved and most helpful kind I have ever met.

2nd December before 2pm:
I was supposed to finalize on a company by 2 in the afternoon and I was in the state of utter confusion. Whether to take Google, which is the dream job of most of the programmers and computer science students or to take Samsung, whose software division is nascent and where my contribution and impact would be much larger, visible and maybe even play a key part in company's direction or to take Goldman Sachs, the challenging job which I always wanted to get a taste of or to go with Tower Research, the highest paying Indian job (twice as high as the second highest) which also involves inviting challenges and lots of programming.

First time I was realizing that it wasn't really a good idea after all to go for so many options. I was wondering whether I would have been better off without a choice, as all these companies were such that I would have accepted the offer without giving it any thought at all had it been the only offer.

2nd December after 3pm:

Having finally decided on Google and rejecting all the other offers, now was the time for doubt-regret-doubt cycle. Did I make the right choice? What about the this one which I just rejected? What about that one? To add to that, most of my very good friends and buddies had opted for Goldman Sachs, another one of my dream jobs.

This is the time where your science fiction reading habits come back to bite you! Concepts like time-travel, non-deterministic life (exploring all the possibilities simultaneously, leading a "multi-life") sound so nice that you tend to think "Damn! Why is it only in science fiction?"

What I learnt about myself:
With enough motivation and drive, I can keep my energy levels really really high for a short period of time (like a day or two), looks like it is not a common trait and not everyone will be able to achieve it. For example, I attended a total of 19 interviews on that day, and I was as cheerful and brimming with energy for my last interview as I was for my first.

Side-effects:
The whole day on December 1st, from 6:45 in the morning to 12:30 in the night, I was just running here and there, attending this interview and that. I did not have any food whatsoever and unfortunately, not enough water too. Inevitably, next day, as expected, I had headaches and a bit of body pain (all that was numbed down by the sheer joy, but still...)

Aftermath:
It felt nice and gave an ego boost when people referred to me as "the guy with six offers". People I barely knew, smiling at me and congratulating me! I was on an all-time-high. Jumping around and laughing all the time. It was such a kick that the next day, although it was a normal and fine day, as it was down compared to previous day's high, I was actually a bit gloomy!

And Bam! I was back to reality! Can't go home because there are still assignments to submit and projects to finish and vivas to appear to! Yes, that's what you get when you are in CS department!

20 comments :

  1. Hey i heard about you from your blog. Can you tell me that do you have all knowledge about the languages you learned. How did you got such job? And does college matters for getting job ?

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  2. Hey congrats Sujeet... It's huge success !!!
    Is it true that after this your aim is IAS? (just being curious :) )

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  3. Hi Swanand,
    Although as of now, I don't have any concrete plans as such, I haven't ruled out the IAS path...

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  4. Hi Sujeet,
    Thanks for reply. :)
    I just went through your achievements (Are baap re)
    Can you please tell me is this sheer intelligence or consistent hard work (pls dont say both :))?
    Thanks again for reply

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  5. Hi Swanand,

    Just being curious, which "achievements" are you talking about? (You know, the other day, someone calls me up on my phone, saying they got the number off the internet! I am just wondering about the whereabouts of such info...)

    To answer your question, I would go with neither of the options. I think it has been a result of combination of "really liking what I do" and "do what I really like".

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  6. Your interview on ABP maza...I guess I have seen it at least 10 times to miss even a single thing they have said about you :) :).

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  7. Can you please provide the u tube link of an interview ?

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  8. True inspiration :) Proud of you mitra. Keep rocking.

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  9. I can only say how lucky you are to drop Samsung.

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    1. Actually, even appearing for Samsung interview (after knowing that they aren't giving out smartphones) was for some totally funny and random reasons!

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  10. Sir I have seen ur interview on ABP maza sir now I am in 10th std and i want to know that which course you have done 10th coz i want to also joint same course after 10th SIR plz rpy

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    1. Pritesh, see if this helps : http://blog.sujeet.me/p/blog-page_16.html

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  11. Sir tommorow is my ICT paper sir I have become a Great fan of u I alaways see your blog accounts i i knw that u like to blog and u r a mararthi manus and me to

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  12. Its in English since i am studing in semi-english scl

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  13. The Best IT Quiz questions till i have seen are Here if intrested check it:
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    Reply Delete
  14. sir i also want to get admission in IIT I am in 10th std ssc sir there are any requirment for getting admissin i reaaly need guidance from u as there r no relatives in iit or it field to get guidance I want to get in the field of IIT it is my dream from 8th std sir plz plz i nedd ur mob. no. plz to get guidance

    Reply Delete

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