Saksham Arora (TT1)
Interned at PwC and UNSW
Domain: Business Advisory (at PwC)
The golden rule everyone should follow in college is to keep an open mind towards everything because you never know what you might like or end up pursuing.
I am a third-year undergraduate student in the textile department at IIT Delhi. I am interested in sports, business, economics, etc, and also in upcoming technologies. I like interacting with people and working on challenging stuff.
Motivation/ reason for choosing this field
Before coming to IIT Delhi, I had always been a tech guy. I was very interested in coding and robotics. Still, after seeing the plethora of opportunities available here, I tried my hand at almost all of them, and then, through the seniors I met, I came to know about consulting as a prospective career. I also got involved in Enactus, where I worked on projects with real-life applications, which made me realise that I feel really good when my solutions are applied in the real world.
I was involved in many activities in my first year, so I had yet to think about what to do. It was mainly at the start of the second year when I started talking to people and tried out my first internship in the 2nd year winter itself. I was working with a professor from the University of Chicago, helping him develop an application related to his research. It was a mixture of coding, research paper analysis etc which I didn't like, so I decided to discontinue it and left it in the first week of January. After getting the taste of a research intern in tech, I started mailing professors of economics, business, marketing, psychology, etc., thereby securing an internship in Wharton School of Business where I was supposed to go, but due to some problems with my visa, I had to leave this opportunity. After that, I was disheartened, and then, coming towards the end of summer, not having anything at hand, I tried to secure an offline corporate internship because it would help me get the industry experience I wanted (in consulting) and also help me decide which field to choose as a career for the upcoming years. After securing an offline corporate internship, fortunately, I also got a research internship at UNSW, which was remote.
The application process
For the research internship that I got at the University of Chicago, UNSW, or Wharton, I mainly cold-mailed professors. I always had a bias towards the US because the US's research output is better than any other place. So, I mailed many professors from a list of 5-6 universities I chose. But at first, I didn't get many replies, so after taking advice from my seniors, I tweaked my CV, improved my cover letter, and eventually got some positive responses. After giving a couple of interviews, I ended up securing the internship.
However, it was a different process for the corporate internship. I started approaching people on LinkedIn, and I found out that there was a new feature in which the companies could list their job openings. So I applied to a few companies that had listed their job openings, PwC being one of them. Around two or three weeks later, I got a call from them, and after that, I had three rounds of interviews. The first round was with HR, the second with the manager, and the third with the executive director. After that, I got an offer letter.
For a research intern, I recommend listing the top 20 to 30 colleges in a field of interest (like tech, business, etc.) and then making an exhaustive list of all the professors involved in the field and mailing them. Ideally, do this in October-November if you want to intern in the summer. To increase your chances, professors who explicitly mention on their webpage that they are interested in research and collaborating can be targeted.
I don't think that mailing helps that much for a corporate intern. So, a perfect space that you can approach is LinkedIn. If you want to intern in a startup, you can do it through IITD notices, but if you're going to get into an established firm, I recommend finding some alumni and getting your CV reviewed by them. Then, ask them if they can tell you about any job openings. Another method is finding a list of companies where you want to go and check their websites where they list down all the job openings, interns, etc. Companies have started listing their openings on LinkedIn as well, so if you look carefully and type in your job preferences, etc.. LinkedIn will automatically recommend things to you. You can search the company name, and through that, listings are available.
I had a business advisory internship. PwC had planned to make some products they could licence and then sell in the industry to generate revenue. I was mainly working on 2 products, the first of which was based on compliance insights. We had software in its testing stage, and I had to communicate with the clients testing it, understand their problems, and recommend how it could be improved. In this project, I worked on many presentations and created many dashboards. This project taught me a lot about presenting things and communicating your ideas well.
The second project, which was generative AI, was a project that was being started from ground zero, so I wanted to be a part of that to gain such experience. My role was to find out the problems the companies were facing, talk to different people, make use cases, and then interact with the tech team a lot. Ultimately, I also market-researched generative AI, like how much demand there is for this product, how much pricing we can do, etc., which I hadn't done before and loved.
The overall experience was good, and the people were appreciative and supportive. I made unforgettable memories with my colleagues in the office.
Suppose you are trying for a research internship. In that case, you should start your mailing process as soon as possible, ideally in October/November, because it is the perfect opportunity to explore research and build your CV; if you secure an offline internship, you can get the chance to travel to a different country which is like cherry on top of the cake. But if you have already done it and know that research isn't what you want to do, you can try out a corporate internship because it gives you industry experience, which will be helpful in your career ahead as well. It tells you what you will be doing in the future if you were a part of the corporate sector, which is quite beneficial in deciding whether you want to make a career in it or not.
Also, whether you are applying for a research internship or a corporate one, read about the company/professor/his research papers, etc, because nobody expects a lot from a sophomore. They already know you can only add little value to them, but they want to see if you are interested in their work, want to learn, and are a person who is sincere and will do the job no matter what. Trying not to sound too parent-ish, I would advise you to not get disheartened by less responses or rejections; it's your perseverance and discipline which will help you achieve your goal, not only in the internship phase but in life as well. :)