I came into IIT with very open arms to try all that I can, and for any which of it to impress me enough to pursue as a career. Having done a research internship at the National University of Singapore in the summers at the end of my second year, I pretty much got a flavor of what life is like in research and academia. Observing my colleagues doing their PhDs, I ended up getting the answer I was looking for – Core Research and Academia is not what I want to do for the rest of my life. I am looking for something that is more closely tied to the daily dynamics of the world.
And immediately after, came the time to sit for the Training selection process. While HUL and ITC were the most sought after companies for any student in the Mechanical department I wanted to take this opportunity to explore a stream that I had never really gotten a chance to get my hands dirty with – Finance, a huge sector that holds immense importance in the functioning of any economy. I somehow had this notion about Finance that if not now, then maybe never. I’m not really the best at coding so Deutsche Bank was my best shot as against Goldman Sachs, and I put it over HUL, ITC and Wipro on my preference list. Shortlisted for the interview, I got through in two rounds. Not to forget the treat they gave us at the JW Marriott Hotel after the selection!
Once we settled in at the ITC Maratha Hotel in Mumbai, we had a rigorous 4-day training program to equip us with the necessary basics of finance – banking, securities in different asset classes, pricing and trading etc. After the training, I started working with the Fixed Income and Currencies (FIC) Asia team, which dealt with the Rates and Foreign Exchange business of DB across 12 Asian countries. My objective was to use DB’s proprietary trade data in the USD-MYR exchange pair and see if any insights about the relation between the price volatility and volumes traded in the market can be drawn. May sound heavy at once, but basically, like most of the other work being carried out in finance these days, it was about using historical data to predict what may be seen in the future. There were other parts to it as well, where I was required to analyze the market behavior before and after data release events. e.g. If the monthly data of the employment levels (Non-farm payrolls) in the US is to be rolled out in 2 days, then what is the market’s expectation of the dollar’s value, and how does it actually turn out to be when the number is rolled out. What it takes to properly address these problems is a sound understanding of econometric methods and machine learning. Fortunately enough, my project holistically encompassed various aspects of financial understanding – I was working on mathematical models of correlations and distributions on Excel and MATLAB, following macroeconomic news (like Greece, China etc.) on Bloomberg and even thinking on the lines of how my recommendations could be useful for actual trading and sales pitches made to clients.
The daily working hours were quite long (~12 hours average), but I was ready for that level of commitment to make the best out of the two months I had. Networking with the people around you is an extremely important part of corporate life, and I spent a lot of time with the heads of various teams, trying to understand the nature of their business and the kind of work they do. The good part is that nobody says no to explain anything to an intern, and I leveraged that (especially at informal parties) to learn about the softer side, about the motivations to work in finance, the high of taking those huge make or break risks, how the industry changed with time, the realizations they have in hindsight, and so on! In whatever little time that remained, I had an amazing time with amazing friends discovering Mumbai – the sea, the food and the polite auto-rickshaw drivers are what I miss the most about the place.
Firstly, it’s important to set your priorities straight, whether you want to explore a new industry or you want to understand what it’s like working in a core Mechanical industry. Once you’ve made that choice, try as hard as you can to get to the best company that can offer you a fulfilling internship experience – not a lot of companies are that serious about the internship program. Do not be hesitant to approach any of your seniors for help in any part of the process. Once you’re there, try to squeeze out as much as you can from those two months, understand the industry in and out – how has it developed, how is it relevant, how is the work life, does it match with your preferences, does it offer what you like? Be sure to have gathered all answers by the end of your internship. Finally, goes without saying, work hard and keep up the reputation of IIT Delhi. You might just end up getting a Pre-Placement Offer as well!