Read our very own former GSec share her experience and wisdom with her juniors!
Q. Tell me a bit about yourself.
I hail from a small family in chandigarh with its roots in Punjab. And like many others, being the first from my extended family to enter such a prestigious institution, joining IIT was the biggest pivot point in my life. I am from the 2015 pass-out batch of the 5 year integrated Maths and Computing course. Apart from academics, I was predominantly involved in BSP. I tried several different activities like western group singing in Rendezvous during my first year but chose to focus my efforts only to BSP to balance my academics along-with. I joined the board as a representative in my 2nd year and held several other roles including that of a chief editor, Literati OC and General Secretary.
Q. What is your work like at Deutsche Bank?
I joined the structured credit trading desk in the Mumbai office. What that means in layman language is that unlike some roles where a person is dealing with stocks, my job deals with much more complicated structures. The role involves a lot of quantitative skills and data crunching. My work is divided broadly into 2 types. The first part involves coming up with new strategies for credit indices, back testing them, and after being a part of all the legal processes, finally launching them into the market for prospective clients. Second is the trading side. I am a part of a team in London. Together we are involved in structured trades of credit products like CDS and repos. None of our products are traded in India and most of our clients are European. Both the sides involve daily risk and PnL assessment. It’s a bit complicated to understand so I won’t go into the details here. My work involves traveling to London too for training and deal related work.
Q. Where did you intern in your 3rd year?
I interned in Neural Techsoft which is a finance consultancy in Mumbai. My project revolved around an algo-creating strategy which I built from scratch, which I developed, tested, coded and finally ran. Because I had a 5-year degree, I was able to do more internships than a 4 year B.Tech student can do. Out of all the internships that I did in different areas, this one interested me the most and that is why I chose finance as my final career option.
Q. Did any of your internships help you in getting your job in any way?
I didn’t intern with Deutsche Bank. Apart from my 3rd year intern, I did another internship with Xerox where my work was related to optimization algorithms. All the skills that I acquired during these interns obviously stood out later on. Since I was in the Math Department, I had had exposure to courses on probability, statistics and I did a couple of on financial management, accounting and financial math. Collectively, these things helped me in getting selected for my job.
Q. Coming to that only, what were the main selection criteria for Deutsche Bank?
From my own placement procedure as well as my involvement with recruitment this year, DB definitely looks for some exposure or interest in finance or allied fields. They do create exceptions though for people with exceptional CVs or any relevant skills. You are expected to work on your finance knowledge as well as quantitative abilities before the interview rounds. During my pre-interview period, I would read up a lot on current economic affairs and make sure to take up all my doubts as well as discuss with my seniors in the firm. I had 4 rounds of interviews. In my first interview I was asked rapid fire physics and chemistry questions just to create a stressful environment where I couldn’t even pause or blabber for a second. No electricity at 8 AM in the lecture hall complex and the 6X6 cubicle only added to the pressure. The second and third interviews were purely based on finance and my resume where I was asked questions on my projects particularly those in finance, the upcoming budget , my opinions about it, what was the one radical change that could be brought into it and so on. And the final interview mostly involved solving puzzles and probability questions.
Q. Do you want to say anything to your juniors?
Yes, I have one piece of advice. I think in IIT, there is a culture where most students don’t sit down and think about what is it that they want to do. They are mostly driven by what everyone wants. It is not a race. At the end of the day, even 6 months after college, you will not have that group where you will be popular for being in a particular club/organization. You will be the one living with your choices till the end of your life. I would really suggest that you sit down, talk to people, eat their heads and find out what their job is like. Find out what any remotely related option in the placement scenario is like and realize what is it that you actually want to do. It could be as simple as selling potatoes. But if that is what you want, do that! Because if you make the wrong choices, you will end up being dissatisfied sooner or later. No money or fame will matter once you start questioning your choices. I have a few friends who were placed in good companies and were unhappy with their work within the first few months of joining, left their jobs after one year to join a completely different line, pursue their hobby as their careers or just to pursue masters in their core subjects, which is what we now realise they were actually best in.
Q. What do you miss most about IIT?
I miss not having a schedule,man! One month into a job and you realize how you can no longer wake up and decide that I do not want to get up and just stay back. The freedom that the institution gives you, the freedom that it gives to girls as well is amazing. When I meet female students from other colleges with timings restrictions and this and that, I realize how much growth that freedom has given me. Most of you might look forward to financial freedom but believe me, there is nothing that comes even close to the option of bunking a lecture and just sipping a frappe at WindT with your buddies!