In today’s blog of Placement Series, we are here to share the story of Vaibhav Pipara describing his journey from a B.Tech Chemical Engineering student to an analyst at MasterCard. He provides us an opportunity to dive into his world and gives tips for getting through the placement season.
Q. What was your approach towards pursuing the field?
(Initial Approach, Resources)
I was also among those students who didn’t know which field they want to pursue when they joined IIT. So, in order to find the field which suits me the most, I explored almost every field at least once including Web-D, Finance, Designing, and Software Engineering. Then at the end of the 3rd semester after having tried various fields I tried data analysis and machine learning and found them interesting. To start this, firstly, I learnt the basics of python from YouTube (channel: thenewboston), then did Machine Learning by Andrew NG on Coursera (which gave me an idea of the mathematics behind ML), and then I did a course on Udemy (Machine Learning A-Z™: Hands-On Python & R In Data Science) which gave me an idea on how to work with data and apply ML models using python (I skipped the R part). Then after having all the theoretical knowledge, I solved few online available datasets (like the Iris Flower dataset, Titanic dataset, Big Mart sales dataset) for getting an idea of the practical application of ML. Then I did 2 internships in the same field which helped me to gain more knowledge about the field.
Q. What was your strategy for preparation for Placement season?
I decided before the start of the placement season that I’ll be majorly sitting for the data analyst and data science profiles. Then I asked the seniors about the test format for these profiles. One thing that was common among these was the aptitude questions. I practiced the aptitude questions from prepleaf.com and a book by Arun Sharma on aptitude for CAT preparation. The other thing which comes in the majority of the tests for analyst profile is probability and P&C which I practiced from the available JEE notes and question banks. Some of the companies also have a coding test along with the aptitude test, for which I did till the stacks and queues from interview bit (this was not sufficient to crack coding tests of some companies, so I would highly recommend doing interview bit till Dynamic Programming at least). Also, I gave mock tests on various websites like prepleaf to get an idea of accuracy when time is also a parameter.
EVALUATION AND HEADNOTE
Q. Please brief the selection procedure and your experience in it and tips for acing it?
1 Test Sections and Experience
Test majorly contained quantitative aptitude questions (majority of them were easy standard questions, if you have practiced them even once, you’ll be able to solve them), questions from probability and P&C (they required a lot of time and level of difficulty was at JEE level), and logical reasoning (easy, prepleaf was sufficient). The last section contained comprehension passages with questions based on them (this was easy but the only problem was time, I wasn’t able to even read the second passage). The level of difficulty of the paper was slightly on the easier side, but the main concern was time. You should be able to solve as many questions with better accuracy.
2Technical Interview Questions and Experience
There were 2 technical rounds with each round being an elimination round. Both of the technical rounds were majorly based on the internships. They asked about the technical part involved in my internships and few questions around that. Apart from the resume, they asked questions on probability (basic), puzzles (similar to those available at geeksforgeeks), and SQL queries (not the query exactly, but the process involved in getting the desired output). Some of my batchmates were asked guesstimates and case studies as well. It depends on the interviewer as well what he/she has in store for you, but in all cases, the resume will play the most important part.
3HR Interview Experience
It was the easiest part of the entire process as they asked the basic HR questions like Why Mastercard, Why should we hire you, etc. The most important thing in this interview is to be true always, don’t fake anything (they’ll identify it for sure), and take it as a normal conversation where there is a little humor involved (this will definitely increase your chances). This round was the shortest in terms of duration (5–7 min) as they asked only 2–3 HR questions and one question for them from me.
Q. What all points enabled you to have an edge in comparison to your other peers in that field?
I think it is the internships that gave me an edge over the others. All of my internships completely resonated with the profile they came for. Also, I had one self-project on data analysis in cricket which I couldn’t write on my resume but presented to them during the interview. They were looking for an analyst and presenting them a complete analysis from scratch (including getting the data) is what I think impressed them. The last thing I think that went in my favour was the HR round, I felt like it was a one-to-one conversation more than an interview. I was able to add humour at right time in this round which really lightened the mood of the entire interview and gave me more confidence in answering the questions.
Q. What all points can strengthen the resume? And how can we, as students develop it now?
The ideal resume in my point of view should contain at least 2 internships/projects (so that the technical rounds can be taken care of easily) and at least one POR (which you can explain in-depth). Use the “STAR approach” in writing the project details. Avoid writing your JEE Rank as an achievement. Avoid mentioning unnecessary details of the internships/projects/extracurricular activities that you find difficult to explain in detail. Only include those details in which you are confident enough to explain. Also, don’t try to add all the details of the project in the resume that nothing extra is left for the interview (just give an overview of each detail).
Q. In case one’s interest doesn’t match with his/her branch of study, how should one manage to pursue the same under the constant pressure of maintaining a good CGPA? How much do you agree/disagree with the fact that ‘CGPA matters despite not pursuing one’s branch as a Career’ & why?
CGPA matters during the placement season, because it is the first criteria for many companies to judge your sincerity and problem-solving ability. Many companies directly or indirectly apply CGPA criteria which filters out a lot of students. You might be a perfect match for some company but with a low CG, there are high chances that you are not even allowed to sit for the test (based on true incidents). Especially for the analyst profile, companies look for the problem-solving skills in a candidate and hence CGPA becomes much more important for these profiles than for software. Hence a CGPA above 8.0 is preferred and will keep you in a safe zone.
General tips for the readers
Sharing my experience, I was the last one to be interviewed for Mastercard (they even said they won’t be taking my interview, as they have finalized the selected students), but after some convincing they interviewed me and I gave my best in all the rounds and eventually got selected. So, I would say that never lose hope during the placement season about getting placed, just focus on the preparation without thinking of the result much. Your chance will come at some point and try to give your best at that moment, you’ll get placed eventually. Also, there is an element of luck involved in the entire process, so don’t get disheartened by it if something doesn’t go as you expected it to go. In the end, enjoy this entire placement season (you’ll cherish it once you get placed), it will throw a lot of challenges to you but never forget that you are some of the brightest minds in the country :)