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Summer 2017

Summer Diaries: VISA

August 1, 2017
- Princi Vershwal

Making it there

I made it to Visa Inc’s internship program through an off-campus attempt. Like many good companies do, Visa conducted an online coding contest on HackerRank, but this was open only for women. Similar to many other contests on Codeforces, it had five coding questions. Post the contest, they invited the top-50 participants for a couple of interview rounds in their Bangalore office.

There are many companies like Cisco, Morgan Stanley, and Codenation, that conduct such online contests during the internship season, so keep a check on the HackerRank calendar. These contests usually have a stiff competition, as students from various colleges and branches all over from India participate in such competitions. For preparation, practice ceaselessly on online portals like Codechef, Codeforces, HackerRank, and HackerEarth.

For this year, however, Visa is planning to come to the IIT Roorkee campus for hiring interns. The campus hiring process would probably be similar to the other companies, that is, one coding/aptitude round followed by a series of interviews.

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The Work and Culture

Visa genuinely cares about its employees, which is something that was evident with the way I was treated throughout my tenure here.

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As far as the projects go, it all depends on the team you are assigned to. There are real time projects related to the work going on in the teams. Interns usually work the same way as a regular employee does, apart from the ton of guidance regarding their work. I worked on an individual project, but there were other projects which had people working in teams of two or three.The working hours are flexible, but most of the interns work from 9 am to 5 pm. Most of the teams have daily standups which help keeping the work on track.

Apart from all the serious work in the team, our two months were full of team outings and social events within and outside the office. Additionally, special events which were arranged only for interns (including booking the entire movie hall). Visa also provides all the luxuries including a good place to stay, daily travel, and food. This is a big advantage for first-time Bangalore visitors like me.

Moreover, every year, Visa has a Global Intern Summit (it was in San Francisco, USA this year) where we had a chance to meet Visa’s interns from more than 14 other countries, the CEO (Al Kelly), and the CTO (Rajat Taneja) of Visa, along with the other great people working at this company.

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Words of Advice

If you are a non-CSE student, getting an internship in a coding profile might seem difficult to you. However, with the right amount of dedication and meeting the right people, you can make it to impressive heights. For instance, here is a conversation I had with my mentor Sean McArthur, who is a full-time employee at Mozilla.

Sean: So what kind of a student are you? Are you a topper or a backbencher at your college?
Me: Actually, I’m average. I don’t enjoy my subjects as much as I like to code, which is why I study all of my departmental courses just before the exams to survive. I have had just one course in C++, that too in my first semester and I managed to get an A in that.
Sean (surprised): No other course? Nothing at all?
Me: No
Sean: Oh my god! Really? That’s so cool! I am so impressed! Then how do you know so much about this field?
Me: The internet at our college is pretty fast!

That is it! If you learn to effectively exploit the facilities our college has, you’ll be good to go. Additionally, here’s some other advice I can offer

  • Do a coding internship only if you are interested in it, otherwise don’t waste your time. Anyone who has a good knowledge of the subjects related to Computer Science can get hired by a good company, irrespective of his/her branch. However, a good CGPA is always important and you will, very soon, get to know this in the coming internship season.

  • Do not run behind campus placements (especially for internship). Explore more. There are way better options. By the end of my 6th semester I had four internships, all in different fields of CS and in different companies (Fuzzy Logix, Visa, Morgan Stanley and Mozilla(Outreachy)), and I’m a student of Metallurgy and Materials Engineering with a CG of 7.4! So, learn more and explore as much as you can. Read blogs, see what all opportunities are there, find out where your interest lies, and do not be afraid of making wrong choices, you are just in the 2nd/3rd year of your college. This is the time to learn and not run behind an internship.

  • Being a student at IIT Roorkee, you are surrounded by some of the best coders, developers, and researchers. We have people from all branches and fields of science who have expertise in various domains of CSE. Connect to people around you and talk about their experiences and work. One of the major reason I could have such an amazing summer is because I met the right people at the right time.

  • Ask questions. No question is ever dumb. Go out and talk to people, take random trips to SDSLabs, MDG or any other room in the hobbies club. People will always welcome you.

  • If you ever get a chance to attend any good conference or event, (like, I went to Google I/O this summer), go there and explore even if it is being hard on your pocket. These experiences are completely worth the money.

  • If you are planning to do a remote project like GSoC/Outreachy, try not to wait till third year, it will be better if you do it in your second year. Honestly, if you are doing it for the sake of learning(and not earning) do it after 2nd year, as at the end of your 2nd year you have a lot of time to learn.

  • Use your 2nd year summer breaks wisely. They form the springboard for your 3rd year internships.