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Ankit Kanwar -

Ankit Kanwar (AM1)

Interned at a startup called Swachh

Domain: Rapid Prototyping and Automation

Interests and Motivation

I am very tech-savvy and like to use a hands-on approach to figure out how things work, be it software or hardware. I also like building stuff. During my JEE days, I was into coding, which built an inclination towards software engineering. When I got into the second year, the courses aligned with my interests quite well, and I enjoyed the classes, so my interest got moulded toward my core areas, too. I had a 50-50 split between core and software engineering, and in the quest for an intern that satisfied both domains, I landed upon this intern in a startup called Swacch.

Process of Application and Preparation

The application process was through the OCS portal, which started around August 2022, but I did not apply for the first half of the process because, at that time, I felt my CG wasn't good enough, and I wanted to improve it before applying. My CG was at 8 in winter, so I decided to get into the OCS winter processes, and their application came through. Later, I got shortlisted and interviewed. There weren't any predetermined CG criteria(even though the shortlisting may have CG's influence in the background), and people from branches like CS, ME, EE, ECM, and MS were shortlisted, so it was open in that sense. The shortlisting was followed by interviews- the first round with the founder, who shared the startup's vision, and a round with the co-founder. The final round involved an assignment based on the domain of our applications that needed to be completed within two weeks. We were later selected and assigned fields based on our interests and projects.

I didn't prepare for the Internship. However, I was already doing courses like DSA as part of my coursework and had some prior knowledge in some domains. Some part of learning was also on the go in the Internship itself.

The Internship-Introduction, Introspection, and Inferences

The intern acted as my portal into the world of startups. It was based in Hauz Khas Village near SDA. My primary workflow involved Rapid prototyping- Understanding the requirements of the founder in terms of the design philosophy of the machinery involved in harvesting Carbon dioxide, designing components in CAD (Autodesk Fusion), 3D printing some parts, testing, and reiterating them. I was also involved in automating related machinery using tools like Raspberry Pi and Arduino and coding in Python.

The work culture was different compared to what you may expect from general corporate culture as sometimes the hours were longer than expected, and a whole day could go by if the day started a bit late, leading to a feeling of lack of time to recharge.

As part of my learning experiences, I learned to optimise stuff and familiarised myself with product designing, which worked well with my interests. I delved deeper into the world of microcontrollers, which touched upon my hobbies. The Internship served as a crash course in time management, especially regarding long working hours, accommodating other aspects of life with work-life balance, not giving in to tasks, and relaxing too much. Tracking of stuff, especially deadlines and objectives, also played a central role, especially in a dynamic startup environment. I also learned the importance of self-reliance when making decisions on the go, as there won't be people ready or available to help you in trying times.

The tangible benefits involved getting a LOR, which helped secure my third-year Internship. It also allowed me to tap into the vast network of people through the founder, leading to diverse corporate relations. It also involved a stipend and completion certificate.

As part of cool goodies, I got to design and 3D print a small cake for one of my friend’s birthdays. I also got an Iron Man arc reactor 3D printed for myself. The Internship did lead to some amount of restriction on other things I wanted to explore in the summer, especially considering the 3rd year intern process started just after this ended. I want to explore more software-oriented opportunities in the future, as this Internship was more core-focused.

Key Advices
  1. Be vigilant about where you are applying and use your sources in the related industry to familiarise yourself with the nature of work and workload before applying. This will help you make better career decisions, prevent burnout, and keep your expectations and preparation in check. When going into startups, explore the startup field beforehand to ensure that they overlap with your passions, interests, or future goals. Your research about domains should be satisfactorily good.

  2. Keep a journal of your work: record conversations, especially your peers' and seniors' inputs and suggestions.

  3. Improve your decision-making algorithms, especially in independent thinking, which should be later justifiable.

  4. Workflow may be different sometimes, and you may need to keep switching back and forth. So, flexibility in terms of workflow is essential without sacrificing productivity.

  5. It isn't always possible to be happy or content even if you are working in the domain of your interest, as several other factors come into play, like the company's vision, devotedness, work culture, etc.

  6. Keep clear communication with your seniors and ensure that you both are on similar terms while setting out on specific paths. This will help you maintain a sense of harmony and teamwork in the long run.

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