Uthaan, the Journalism and Recreational Club of ABV-Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management Gwalior, is here with a new PlaceKode. With us, we have Sanchita Gupta who is presently an SDE at BNY Mellon and a former Full Stack Developer Intern at TechFnatic. She is a laureate of Walmart CoderHers’22 and also secured AIR 129 in Google Hash Code’22.
Congratulations on being placed at BNY Mellon. So our first question to you is, what was the interview process like with BNY Mellon?
I participated in BNY Mellon’s Code Divas program, a diversity initiative for girls. This was the third iteration, held annually. After succeeding through five rounds, I made it into the third Code Divas program. The first two rounds tested coding, followed by three interview rounds. On March 4th, the first round had three coding questions of varying difficulty. I solved two, qualifying for the second round. About 23,000 registered for coding, with around 200–250 moving to the second round.
Round two featured a tough coding question on graph-related topics. Despite not solving it, I tackled an SQL question and subject-based MCQs, securing my spot. The first interview round was on April 21st. Strong core subject knowledge played a crucial role. Even if coding proved challenging, understanding core subjects impressed interviewers. Core subjects are vital alongside decent DSA skills, particularly for competitive programming enthusiasts.
During my interviews, OOPS and SQL were recurrent. The first round included a coding question based on OOPS. In all rounds, core subjects were pivotal. Another round of core questions followed for the second interview, along with a medium-level DSA string-based problem. The final round was managerial, where preparing behavioral questions in advance is wise. About 50–60 girls were shortlisted from 23,000 for the program. I was among the fortunate ones.
Many graduates face the dilemma of choosing between joining a startup or a more established company. What factors did you consider when you chose this job?
The TPO(Training and Placement Officer) of our college invites both startups as well as well-known companies. On campus, I was selected for two companies. One was a startup and another was an established PSU. So if I compare the interview processes, they turned out to be quite different.
In the startup interview, they were mostly interested in my projects and skills. Some of my friends were already working there and had told me that startups mainly expect you to have a good amount of knowledge in development and other areas. You will find good exposure and you will learn a lot very quickly.
Whereas if I talk about BNY Mellon, its an established company. It has been around 20 days and I found that they expect us to know nothing. We were just given a brief introduction about everything. They don’t expect you to know Java, Spring Boot, and everything beforehand. Nor do they expect you to have a development background or anything. Instead, they select you based on your problem-solving abilities and potential to learn in the future. Interestingly, they don’t even necessarily assign you tasks according to your existing knowledge. I’m in analytics and ML, although I felt more confident in the MERN stack. Also, I found that the work pace is a bit slow. But you will grow here as well.
Congratulations on cracking Google Hash Code! Could you share some highlights from the event? Can you tell us something about the most challenging problem you encountered during the competition?
In the year 2022, I participated in the Google Hash Code competition. Our team hastily formed within the last few minutes before the registration deadline. Initially, one of my friends received a message prompting us to create a team and provide a hash code. We were allotted a three-hour window that stretched from midnight to 3 AM. During this time, we meticulously examined the problem statement, which proved to be highly intricate, consisting of multiple subparts. Together, we collectively analyzed various aspects of the problem. Upon dividing the subparts among ourselves, we individually delved into finding solutions, putting our minds to the task at hand. Following this intensive coding phase, we amalgamated our individual solutions into a cohesive codebase. Initially skeptical about the functionality of our code, we were pleasantly surprised when it not only ran but also exhibited favorable time complexity. Our performance in the Google Hash Code competition was notably strong, thanks to our team’s high-ranking and skilled members. The rigorous coding and problem-solving activities during the competition deepened our understanding of the challenges posed by the questions. This proficiency was bolstered by my prior experience with data structures, which had been cultivated since my third semester, culminating in our successful performance over the course of a year and a half.
You were a full-stack intern at Tech Fanatic. So can you tell us about your first internship experience and how it helped you in making plans at that time?
Honestly, I had taken the internship mainly because I wanted to finish my credits. And I had started very late, so I couldn’t even apply to many places. My internship at that startup wasn’t anything special either. But the nice thing about it was that I was the only person at the frontend. So I got a chance to build everything, including writing code from scratch till production. I got to experience its whole life cycle and learned a lot about industry standards. But yeah that’s how things happen at startups. They expected me to know all this. From the first day itself, they had assigned me to work on react.
On the other hand, my friends at Goldman Sachs and other places, I asked them about their experience. For them, the 2 month internship was only the last week where they worked. The rest of the time, they were just learning and observing. So these kinds of differences exist between startups and established companies even in internships.
So, when I was in my fifth semester, I gave an interview for Goldman Sachs and almost cleared the 3 rounds in it and was about to get selected. But in the third round, I ran into a problem. They asked me a question regarding OOPs but I had not revised that. So because of that one core subject, I missed out on it. And there were other interviews I had given to top companies, but because of small stuff like these, I could not get selected. So I was disappointed about that.
Then I finally found a startup through Internshala and applied there and got accepted. I was expecting a good internship, but because I was lacking in core subjects and stuff, it couldn’t happen.The problem was I started a little late. That’s why I would suggest everyone start from the first year itself and explore everything. Don’t sit and wait for the second year.
Even the subjects in the curriculum help a lot. Try to get the core subjects done through those. If you try to do them separately later, you won’t develop that deep insight into them. So try to finish them then and there itself.
How much importance do you give to your college curriculum? And how do you think it has helped your professional journey? Should we give a lot of importance to the CGPA or not?
Some core courses in the curriculum are very important like DBMS, OS, and OOPS. All these are in our curriculum. So pay a little more attention to those subjects. At least do these subjects well. The rest of the subjects or electives are not very useful for your placements. So you can just study them during exam time.
Now about the marks, you should have a decent CGPA. If you can do 8+, then it’s very fine. And focus on the core subjects of the curriculum from the start, so that it’s not hectic in the end. The core subjects have helped me a lot in my interviews and everything.
Did you ever feel the need to switch your techstack halfway into it, because the people around you were working on something else? Or did you pick something or get stuck with it?
One thing about me was that I am a jack of all trades and a master of few. I’ve never been someone who sticks to just one thing. I’ve explored a wide range of fields like ML (Machine Learning), Deep Learning, MERN Stack development, data structures, and coding, among others.
However, I have seen friends who focused solely on development for the first three years. And then later during placement time, they started to learn coding. My journey was different. I always did a mix of everything. I engaged in coding, and if I ever got bored with one thing, I would seamlessly switch to another. This flexibility helped me avoid getting stuck on one thing.
And there is nothing like halfway switching. Suppose you are doing an internship, and there you realize the need for a different techstack, then you have to learn that or say you need to switch to that techstack. In college, while maintaining a curriculum along with an internship, daily you are switching from one thing to another from Java to Python, from development to blockchain. And Believe me, switching is never difficult. Everything is so interconnected in our field that switching can happen easily. All you need is a flexible mentality to switch.
If you are interested in something, then you won’t say it is difficult and you can make a career out of it. So let the interest come into you.
You were a member of the Rotaract Club for a while. Do you believe that being a part of a club helps you in boosting your college experience and affects corporate life?
So I entered the Rotaract Club in my first year. I talk to the seniors I met in that club even now. They have helped me a lot. Even in my phase when my two offers were withdrawn there was so much negativity inside me. I contacted one of my seniors who was part of that particular club only. And I had made a connection with him through that club.
So he helped me a lot with everything. He sent me the numbers of so many HRs and everyone. And he was continuously asking me what happened. Did you apply for this place? Did you get a reply? So you make connections with your seniors. And it is a social service club so it was great being a part of it. So in the beginning it was very active. In the end, there were placements so I wasn’t that active in the club. But being a part of that club always used to give me a sense of positivity.
There is always a future goal. You have entered the job phase of your life, so what are you aiming for now… Do you want to be the leader in the field you are in today or are you planning to switch?
I didn’t do ML to that point. But now my role in BNY Mellon is analyst and ML engineer. And you don’t need to get what you have done. But I am happy because I started ML in the fourth year of my B.Tech project in the eighth semester. So mainly I explored ML. So I didn’t have much time. I had done ML for 4–5 months. I wanted to pursue ML further. Therefore I was so happy when I got this role. Like they randomly assigned the role. I was flexible from the start. I would have been equally happy if I had been given development, Java, Spring Boot, and Backend Developer. If I had got it, it would have worked. But now it’s better. So I don’t want to switch. I want to explore ML more. I will continue with this thing. But from now on, I feel that I am not getting much interest in this. Maybe I will switch. It depends on your interest. And if you are interested, then you can continue.
Co-ordinated by Ayush Jha