Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Placement: a 3 day experience

I don't know what will I write is whether a worth reading for others, but this is truly an incident worth to remember, at least for quite a few periods.
So, from where should I start? Truly speaking, I'm little bemused about the beginning of my experience about placement. Should I include my (or our) placement preparation in the scorching heat of May, June and July at RK hall or should I talk about my confusion between taking up a job and higher studies. Amidst all confusions I think it is better to keep things short to only my experience beginning from the period just before our campus placement procedure. The preparation phase and the other one is not worth mentioning here to me.
Truly speaking, I was not at all ready for the placement. I was planning to pursue higher study (PhD in foreign universities) as I had no hope to get into a job in some core company (companies related to electronics profile). Because those companies seek students repleted with core knowledge which I totally had forgotten and didn't able to manage to rewind previous courses. There was a thing that I wanted to stick to core because I somehow realized that I would not be quite dexterous to outstay the jobs in non-core like finance or management. That is why I had two options in my hand - get through a core company or fight for a PhD position in foreign universities.
Now, as neither of two were sure for me, I decided to apply for all companies' all profiles coming to campus. Because once I get into any kind of job, then at least I will not sit jobless in next semester for sure. The written tests for the companies started in mid-October - after the Durgapuja vacation.
Throughout the whole placement procedure I had three of my friends - Abhay, Debdoot and Priyabrata accompanied with me. Whatever we have done beginning from the placement exam time, we have done together with a slight distortion in case of Debdoot. I had another two close friends in my group - Siddhartha and Susnata. But these two were quite passionate about higher studies and sat only for core ones. There was Soumyajit too, who was nowhere in the placement scenario but was there for constant support.
Anyhow, as far as I remember the first test was there for ServiceNow. Before the test, we had no clue what was going to be there in the test. To our utter dismay there was questions from topics like C++, database, networking etc. in which we were like a layman. There was aptitude questions too, but those CS questions befuddled us in the very first strike. After that we faced a serial strike from companies like Citrix and E-Bay. In Oracle test I managed to deliver a better performance because most of the test were based on quantitative aptitude ability.
Meanwhile I and Debdoot faced a major problem. I missed the test of Codenation as I had my TOEFL exam previous day and went home after that. Debdoot missed Oracle test for some other reasons. I expected no consequences of that. But our CDC posed a punishment by restricting us to be shortlisted at maximum 20 companies. We took the punishment very seriously and by any means we intended to revert that punishment. But after some time we realized that it was a trick from CDC to inject some seriousness (??) within students. The punishment was not imposed in reality and we continued to write tests after that.
The tests went on like a daily routine. Some of them went bad, some of them were medium but in none of them I was fully satisfied. Looking at the huge amount (around 700) of students appearing for all the tests I had little hope to appear in the shortlists of interview for those companies. Before 1st December we had written tests of Credit Suisse, Citrix, Amazon Express, City Bank, Cisco, Walmart, Xerox, Analog Device, Axis Bank, Qualcomm, and Capital One etc. Priyabrata cracked the test of Oracle and already wrote the second round of the same.
Now as November was coming to an end all of us was waiting for the interview shortlists to be published. For December 1, I was shortlisted for EXL Services. Frankly speaking it was much unexpected to me. Priyabrata was shortlisted for American Express and Abhay was there for massive four companies - EXL, Credit Suisse, Visa and Cisco. We were all sure that he will crack any one of them. As per all of our expectation Abhay was through Credit Suisse. This was a huge day for him. Priyabrata could not do much in American Express interview as he had to face some random questions there.
EXL services was first proper interview I faced in my life. During internship the interviews were telephonic. I was bit tensed before my EXL interview. I practiced some questions like, 'tell about yourself', 'why this company' etc. I also came to know that EXL will ask for some guess estimation and puzzles in their first round. That is why I also had a look on them. Moreover I had to put on formals kike suit, pant and tie. At first it looked somehow awkward. The interview was in TP-206 at Nalanda Complex. My name was 60th in the shortlist of 102 candidates. That means I had ample time to gather the questions they were asking previous candidates. I was preparing my mind for that. I heard that EXL was going to hire around 35 students this year. Therefore I was little hopeful that I may crack this one. The interview process started at around 2:30 PM. As there was a single interviewer, the whole process was moving very slowly. My turn came up at around 7 PM. The initial scary feeling within me had gone that time and I was prepared to face the interview confidently.
As I entered the room, the interviewer greeted me warmly and told me to have a seat. Then he asked a few questions from my CV. Next he asked three questions and I answered almost all of them efficiently with little fumbling in last question. Though the questions were not hard at all, still I was very glad that I performed well in that interview. I was very confident that I would get a call for the second round. I waited in the venue only for that call. After some time I asked the placement committee who was conducting the whole procedure about my second round of interview and to my utter surprise he told that I was not selected for the same. I felt little sad that time as the reason of the rejection was not realized by me. I came to hostel after that and had my dinner. I told myself that there might be something within me which the interviewer did not like at all and that is the reason for the rejection. I treated that as a bad luck and prepared for the next exams. Meanwhile I had to complete the MTP report and send to my guide. I somehow managed to complete writing the report, but it was not that good.
Anyway that day we had tests of Flipkart and Snapdeal starting from 11 PM. I was preparing my mind mentally to give cent percent at those tests. The test were in Nalanda. That evening I and Priyabrata kept our cycles in the stand and the stand was closed after 8 PM. So, we had to call a rickshaw to go to Nalanda. Flipkart test contained normal aptitude and verbal ability based questions. I was much satisfied writing the test. In Snapdeal test there was 50 questions and the time limit was only 12 minutes. Basically it was a speed test and you have to be really quick on your feet. That test also I managed well.
Next day, I got my name shortlisted in Flipkart. It gave me an immense satisfaction as I had performed well in the test and also got the result for the same. In the waiting list of Axis Bank too, there was my name. Priyabrata was also there in the same waiting list. On the same day Siddhartha was also got shortlisted in qualcomm.
So, again I started to prepare mentally for Flipkart interview. The venue of Flipkart was TP-401 at Nalanda Complex. When I reached the venue I came to know that Flipkart will conduct a GD round for elimination. Now I fainted. I had no experience of GD before. Whatever I heard about GD before that, my realization was that, GD is the toughest hurdle to me in a selection process to cross. Anyway, I thought that I would get some time to prepare mentally before appearing in Flipkart GD session. The first thing I did, I went to TP-103 where Axis Bank selection process was going on to check whether my name entered into the main list. There I found that I as well as Priyabrata were through to the main list of Axis Bank. I again went upstairs to Flipkart venue.
But there, I felt an immense shock - my name for GD was being called out. So, at once I rushed to the GD room and to my utter surprise as soon as I took my seat the moderator of GD announced the topic - "Make in India" and allowed us two minutes to think. I was not even fully settled in the room. I was totally confused for around 30 secs. After that I wrote some points on a scratch paper and was waiting to the signal of the moderator. But, suddenly one student started to speak out and the GD began full fledgedly. That left me dumb founded. I was not getting any scope to speak as whenever I tried to do the same I was getting obstructed by others. As far as I remember I could speak and made others listen only two times. Finally, when the moderator told us to summarize the whole session individually then I talked about few points and after some time the session ended. I was little dejected as I could not perform well in that GD due to lack of experience. The placecom members told us to wait for some time till all the sessions got finished.
After that, I went to Qualcomm venue and came to know that Siddhartha's interview was going on. I was very confident that he will convert that interview into a successful one. Then I went to Axis Bank venue and there also the placecom told that my turn will be there after a while. Meanwhile I called Priyabrata to tell him that he was promoted to the main list of Axis Bank from the waitlist. But when I called him, Siddhartha picked up the call and told that Priyabrata was selected for the interview of Qualcomm in digital profile. It was another good news for us as we were all confident about his knowledge in digital electronics. By the way Abhay was also there to bolster all of us and he was also coordinating me as I had two interviews - one in ground floor and another in third floor.
Meanwhile I got the news of my rejection at Flipkart GD. I was expecting that kind of result. And after a while my turn in Axis Bank came. Like previous day, here also the interviewer greeted me warmly. He asked me a guess estimation question (no. of people in Kolkata using specs) and I confidently explained that. The interviewer looked impressed at my answer. After that interview as the placecom told me to wait for the next round I again rushed upstairs to Qualcomm venue and got the good news that Priyabrata and Siddhartha cracked Qualcomm. They looked very joyful there. They were just waiting there for the final confirmation. I also cheered them. After a while the HR of Qualcomm asked all the selected candidates inside and they went into the room.  I also moved downstairs to check the status of Axis Bank interview.
I got to know that I was selected for the final round of the interview of Axis Bank. They gave Job Application Forms to be filled up by all the final shortlisted candidates. The form was about candidate’s personal bio-data and all. While filling up the form I thought that as they were asking to fill that kind of form means the final selection is almost guaranteed. I was much ebullient at this thought. Meanwhile Priyabrata, Siddhartha and Abhay came to me and wished me best of luck for the interview. Qualcomm gave them a good-looking sweat shirt each. By the way my turn for the interview in Axis Bank came and I entered into the room with a confident attitude.
The interview went on for 45 minutes. One may conclude from this prolonged interview that it went absolutely well. But, truly speaking it went horrible. It went so disastrous that I can tell that I have not felt so embarrassed in front of someone for this much of time span. They asked me a guess estimate question and what I started to guess was childish. They laughed at me, they pranked me and finally they were fed up with me. I was so psyched that time that I forgot the full form of RBI in the middle of interview. I was feeling like running away from them.
After the interview I remained very frustrated with me. I at once came back to my room. The time was around 5:30 PM. At 6 PM the schedule for that day’s test came and there were a lot of written test of Flipkart IT, Snapdeal IT, Synopsys and Texas Instruments. I was not in a mood to appear in any of the tests. Moreover I had my MTP presentation next day and for that I had to prepare my presentation and I did not get my report signed. I called my guide and he assured that it was ok to get it signed next day.
Anyway I made up my mind to appear in those test and perform at my level best. The tests were scheduled to start at 7 PM. I at once went to Nalanda and started to prepare my PPT. I called Debdoot there also to give me company. While making our PPT we were also keeping a look on notice board to know the tests’ venue. But time went on, no such notices appeared on the notice board. We thought that as usual the tests were getting delayed. We also called some of our batch-mates and they were not picking up the call. They seemed to have a sleep after a hectic day. We took first few of those tests got cancelled. So we remained seated in the same room at ground floor. Susnata was appearing for Texas Instruments test which was scheduled last that day. I called Susnata about the situation and to my utter surprise he told that the test of Synopsys was about to start at some room at 1st floor. We at once rushed to the venue and saw that all of our batch-mates were there. We also came to know that all of the tests scheduled previously has already been finished. Now my frustration level grew twice. What were we doing there? Just seating like morons and passing the time. I had no intention to write the Synopsys test. Before that I thought that I would do well in that test as it is one of the best companies for ECE folks.
Anyway the Synopsys test started within a while. It was a paper based test. There was three sections – Aptitude, Coding and Digital electronics. The duration of the test was one hour. There was negative marking for each question. But I was so nonplussed at the beginning of the test that I wasted at least 10 minutes of time solving the very first question. Then I realized that I had to leave the tough one and should only go for the relatively easy one as there was negative marking. None of the questions were straightforward and it was taking time for all the questions. Somehow I managed to solve a fair amount of questions in all three sections within the stipulated time. But, I was not confident to crack into the interview because many of the students would perform like that. Next, there was the test of Texas Instruments (TI). This time TI came to hire in Analog profile only in which my knowledge was almost null. TI test had two sections – analog and aptitude ability. In analog section there was 20 questions and all of them were germane to my knowledge. I guessed 10 of them. The aptitude section was regular to me as I had appeared for so many aptitude test by then. Susnata did really well in both of the sections and was confident to get into the second phase.
I returned my room at around 3:30 AM.  Then I finished preparing my PPT within 30 minutes and slept. I could not sleep for more than an hour. I opened the notice board and saw that I was shortlisted for Synopsys. I was little ecstatic at this. From that moment I decided that anyhow I have to perform very well in the interview. In that morning there was test of ZS Associates. I intentionally missed that test as I was not feeling well too. From 9:30 I had my MTP presentation also. I decided to keep myself calm. I went to Priyabrata’s room to get my copy of MTP report which he already got printed. He told me to perform well in the interview. In course of time I finished my MTP presentation.  Even now I don’t know what I told that day in the presentation but it just went on.
As soon as I finished the presentation I rushed to my room to suit myself up and then hurried to Nalanda having the digital notes with me. I was feeling a sheer bit of tension within me. But after the previous 3 rejections I was just thinking that I have to accept whatever would happen. I have to just keep going.
The interview was scheduled to start at 11 AM at TP-304 to TP-307. As I reached the venue, one of the interviewer told each of us the respective rooms of the interview. By the way Susnata was shortlisted for Texas Instruments. While I was waiting for my turn to come up I saw Abhay and Priyabrata coming there. They came at their own risk as there was a rule that the placed students should not show their face in Nalanda. Anyway it was good for me that they came because I was feeling much tensed and I could ease myself a little bit by talking to them. They discussed some digital and data structure stuffs with me which could be helpful in interview.
At around 12 PM my turn came up. I had to look confident before entering the room. So, I pumped myself up and went to the interviewer. There was three interviewers and all of them asked questions separately. Surprisingly, the first interviewer was a Bengali one had our conversation fully in Bengali. Actually, I reckoned later that all of the three interviewer were Bengali, though next two interview were in English. First the interviewer asked me about my current project. Then they asked about some basic data structure and algorithm related questions. Some of them I couldn’t answer at my first attempt but could able to tell when they hinted me. They also asked me about the questions which I couldn’t solve in the written test and also about the procedure by which I solved some of them. All was going well. At the end of the interview I asked the interviewer about my interview. He told me, “If you want to join Synopsys or if we want to hire you, you should do coding frequently.” Now I could not decipher the tone of the interview, whether it was an acceptance or rejection. Anyway, I came outside and saw Abhay and Priyabrata waiting for me. They asked me about the interview and I told them that it went well.
I got the news from them that Susnata was almost selected in TI. There was no surprise in it anyway. After myself there was at least 20 candidates whose interview was yet to be completed. So, I had to wait there for some time to know the result. Now, waiting is the thing which grows tension within you. I was so tensed that for next few hour I didn’t have a seat - I was just moving here and there in the corridor. From time to time I was analyzing my interview and deciding whether I could satisfy the interviewers or not. Sometimes I was thinking that I could not solve some questions in my first attempt and that could have a negative impact on the interviewers. Sometimes I was also have this thought that I solved those problems quickly after having a hint and that might speak in favor of me. Off and on the interviewers were coming outside and having a chat with the placecom. I was trying to hear them by reading their lips from distance. From time to time I was asking placecom what they were saying about the result. I was very much desperate to know the result. Meanwhile I felt hungry and told my mates. They took me to the canteen downstairs and ordered puri-sabji for me. Though it was a favorite food to me, I could not pass that down my throat as I was very much tensed by that time.
Priyabrata told me not to worry much. Again I went upstairs and saw that the interview was almost over. They were waiting for only one person. Eventually that student came and after a while his interview was over. Now it was just a matter of time for the result to be published.
Usually I do not believe in finger crossing or praying to god or something like that. But this time I was searching for something which can bring me some luck. Though I knew that it was not the end of placement season and many companies were yet to come, but I wished to get it done as another rejection would lead to more waiting and uncertainty.
I saw the interviewers were out of the room and discussing something with the placecom. One of the interviewers was telling to a placecom boy pointing to me, if I was not wrong that time. Next moment that boy took me some distance apart. I thought there would be another round of HR interview. But to my deadliest surprise he asked me, “If Synopsys gives you an offer, will you accept it?” I was like telling him, “What! Is this a question to ask?” I told him, “Yes, obviously!” and thus I got placed in Synopsys.
I saw Priyabrata and Abhay standing in a distance apart. I ran towards them and gave them the news. They congratulated me warmly. My eyelids began to wet by then and what I had to do was to control my flowing emotion in front of them. I heard the phrase “someone’s joy knew no bound” but could not really appreciate it before that day. My joy really was not able to know any bound and I was very much ecstatic that time. Except feeling joyous what I was feeling a sigh of relief – no more late-night-early-morning combination, no more waiting in Nalanda to begin a test, no more spending some tensed moments after an interview and lot more. The interviewers also congratulated me and I asked them about the job location which they told Bangalore. Then we left Nalanda and headed towards Tikka. We had Debdoot with us too. Now he was the only one left within us for placement. Susnata, who went department for his presentation after being selected in TI and Siddhartha who was in department for presentation joined us later in Tikka.
Now this is the whole story of three days about how I got placed in Synopsys and the ups and downs involved in it. I would be extremely thankful to my closed mates – Abhay, Priyabrata, Debdoot, Siddhartha and Susnata as they were always beside me for these days even after they got placed themselves. I may not ever forget that after my interview of Synopsys – Abhay and Priyabrata was also with me at my tensed moments waiting for the result to be disclosed. Had Susnata not called me at the night of Synopsys test, whether I would get placed in Synopsys ever, is still a question. I will remember that Priyabrata helped me a lot to cope up with MTP presentation stuffs and placement interview simultaneously. I will also remember the funny discussion with Debdoot about my terrible interview in Axis Bank which helped me to be easy in that situation. Actually I will ever remember a whole lot of things happened so quickly in those three days.

One thing I learned from my three day long toil (though many people toiled a lot harder than me) – not to expect anything from any incident. Because expectation leads to unhappiness if failed. Just perform at best and success will come for sure some day or other. Obviously there should be some luck involved in it. I will recognize this incident of getting placed as my biggest success till date. Whether it will remain as the biggest success, time will tell eventually.