“I loved to play video games as a child. And I thought I would eventually build one. That was my main motivation to study Computer Science,” grins Arushi Dogra. Hailing from Pathankot, Arushi says she first learned of IIIT-H from her brother’s friend. She did a lot of research, crawling through forums, reading questions on Quora and had heard so much about the opportunities and exposure that students at IIIT-H get in terms of projects, research work, internships and so on, even before entering its hallowed portals. Currently in her 5th year, Arushi enrolled for the B.Tech in CSE and M.S by research in CSE dual degree programme. “ I consider it a blessing that I am in the Dual Degree program. It has given me the freedom to explore more and follow my interests,” she says.
Google Summer of Code (GSoc)
“If you look through Quora, you’ll find an overwhelming number of questions about how students from here get through GSoc, if there’s a special GSoc chapter or a GSoc course for IIIT-H students,” she says. Because of all this buzz, Arushi knew she definitely had to take a stab at it once she enrolled in IIIT-H under the Dual Degree programme. To quote from their website, “Google Summer of Code is a global program focused on introducing students to open source software development. Students work on a 3-month programming project with an open source organization during their break from university.”
The way GSoc works is that first students contact the mentor organizations they want to work with and write up a project proposal for the summer. If accepted, students spend a month integrating with their organizations prior to the start of coding. Students then have three months to code, meeting the deadlines agreed upon with their mentors. And finally, mentors review student code samples and determine if the students have successfully completed their GSoc project. When results are announced, successful students get to share their code with the world.
Typically students work on internships in their pre-final year and get pre-placement offers from the same organization. “I started to develop an interest in language processing tools after joining LTRC (Language Technologies Research Centre) lab in college,” says Arushi. She credits Dr. Manish Srivastava, her research advisor and mentor for having fostered her interest towards Natural Language Processing and its applications. “I was hooked after the two initial courses he taught, “ she exclaims. For her mentor organization, it seemed but natural to approach Indic Project, an open source organization that “creates Indian language applications and solutions for majority of India that does not speak English”. During the Summer of 2016, Arushi worked on language processing modules and improved the Indic keyboard app. “Open Source is fun and I was happy to see that we were implementing what I had learned in the lab”, she says.
Internship at Google, Dublin
For the Summer of 2017, Arushi wanted to do something different. She says she approached a senior who’s currently working at Google, Zurich and asked for advice on an internship at Google Europe. “The process of selection here is completely different, and requires a lot of preparation.” It starts with submission of resumes. As it happens, internships do get noticed on resumes. “It was because of GSoc that I got shortlisted for interviews,” she claims. There are two technical rounds consisting of coding interviews followed by an HR interview. “After this, our resumes and interview scores are put into a pool. We wait until we are contacted by a matching host company”, says Arushi. Based on her initial preference of Google’s European offices, she was contacted by Google’s Dublin office. It was here that she worked for a period of 13 weeks as a Site Reliability Engineering intern. True to the description on the Google Internship site, Arushi worked on the cutting edge of cloud-based computing. As a member of the elite team, she was involved with “keeping Google running, from code-level troubleshooting of traffic anomalies to maintenance of …most cutting edge services; from monitoring and alerts to building new automation infrastructure.”
Working here was a real eye-opener for Arushi. Previously used to burning the midnight oil and studying until the wee hours of the morning, she saw to her surprise that the offices used to empty out by 4 or 5pm each evening. “My manager called me and explained that working longer hours did not result in increased efficiency or productivity. He was the one who prodded and encouraged me to get a life!” That was when she started engaging in other activities such as playing TT, playing games on the Xbox, utilising the swimming pool, and got back to her first love – yoga. “I realised that work is just a part of life. At Google, I continued to work diligently but started to enjoy life side by side,” she says.
Internship at Facebook, London
Summer 2018. Despite receiving a returning internship offer or a conversion (a permanent employment offer), Arushi decided to gain experience in a different industry role with a different work culture. This time too, a lot of hard work went into preparing for the internship, She submitted her resume to Facebook and was shortlisted. Two interviews later, she was made an offer to intern with the FB Live team based out of London. “I still don’t know the exact details of the project. I was told I would be briefed upon joining there..,” she says. It begins on May 14th. “I hope my expectations match reality. I have planned out all my weekends there,” she says with visible excitement.
4 ways to bagging a prestigious internship
In Arushi’s own words, here are 4 things you must do:
- Read a lot and gain exposure to the opportunities that exist. This could be in the form of online forums such as Quora and so on.
- Reach out to seniors and other alumni to seek their advice. They typically have a wealth of information to share.
- Do a variety of projects.
- Prepare well. And also prepare to be rejected!