Maathangi Anirudh (ME1)
Interned at KOSH (a YC startup)
Domain: Data Science and Analysis
Initially, I decided not to pursue an internship in my second year. I thought I would rather spend the summer developing my skills. I was considering building my coding skills, while simultaneously preparing for the 3rd year internship season. Still, I had ample free time, and I grew bored a couple of weeks into the summer. So, I thought I could manage an internship along with skill development. I started scouting for interesting opportunities two weeks after the summer started. As it was pretty late, and I couldn't get a research internship at some foreign university, I had minimal options. I could have pursued a research internship in an Indian institute like IIMs, ISB, other IITs, etc. or I could have worked at a startup, which is what I ended up doing.
I've always been interested in finance. Even in 10th grade, I had difficulty in choosing between science and commerce. So, there was a part of me that always wanted to explore this field. I thought I could look for a fintech startup and work there. It would be my 3rd internship. I had done two more internships online earlier. One was with a venture capitalist firm, where I was an associate. I mainly engaged in deal sourcing, talking to founders, preparing market research reports, and analysing them. My second internship was a strategy role for an oncology company. My main motive is to explore as many avenues as possible because once I start working, I might not be able to explore as much. So that's why I opted for data science, since it was a field I hadn't explored before.
I started searching for companies two weeks after the summer vacation started. I mainly applied by reaching out to people on LinkedIn. I was looking for a start-up that was backed by YC, one of the largest startup schools, since it would assure me that I would be working for a promising startup with a good peer group. I also preferred that the founders be from IIT, since that boosts credibility. It gave me a sense of safety and security that at least the founder is my senior. I applied these tags on LinkedIn and found a start-up in the financial sector. They had a few data science roles open. I contacted the founder and initiated the interview process, in which they gave me a technical consulting role. The role that I was offered did not have any stringent prerequisites, and it gave me more exposure into data analytics and technical consulting.
Internship experience, hardships, and learning:
I had a lot of apprehensions. Being an introvert, there were many funny and awkward incidents. In fact, on the first day, I forgot to take my laptop, and I was sitting in the office doing nothing. Moreover, I was balancing this internship and my preparation for a 3rd-year intern season. I was learning DSA and doing case preparation, and it got hectic to manage. I would return home at 7pm, spend a couple of hours preparing, sleep at around 2am, wake up in the morning the next day, and start all over again. It was extremely tiring for me, but it was a small price for the experience and learning.
How you spend your 2nd year summer depends on what sector you want to work in. I was interested in finance, which I couldn't explore before, so I decided to look for fintech startups in Gurgaon and Bangalore. You can visit the YC website or look at start-ups founded by IIT alumni. These companies might give you greater learning exposure and a more significant learning curve than a random start-up. So spend some time researching the kind of start-up you want to get into. Then, prepare a list and send messages to these people. Reach out to as many people as possible; I applied to 20 - 30 startups and finally got this call.
Also, take every interview seriously, even if they seem minor. You might feel like you're applying to a small start-up and might get selected, but it's always better to give your best to take every interview seriously, prepare for it, and then go ahead.