Interview with Miss Aastha Agarwal on her summer internship at Deutsche Bank. Read on to find more about the selection procedure, work experience, company culture and so on.
Firstly, congratulations on completing your internship successfully. Could you tell us how you applied and were selected? Could you also briefly tell us about the selection procedure and criteria?
I interned with Deutsche Bank Centre (or to be more specific, Deutsche Corporate & Investment Banking (CIB) Centre). I applied for the internship through the Training and Placement cell of IIT Delhi, like my all other batch-mates and I was intimated about my selection for the same via the TnP portal itself. Well, it was a 4-tier selection process. The first round was résumé based shortlisting. The candidates’ resumes were expected to possess a good blend of academics, PoRs and extra-curricular activities (and yes, the shortlisted candidates were given DB flash drives as a token of appreciation :p)
Next in line were the ‘seemingly’ jittery personal interviews. The second and third rounds comprised of technical interviews. Logical puzzles, questions based on probability and economics formed a part of the aforementioned rounds. We weren’t expected to possess any financial knowledge and even the answer to those puzzles and questions did not matter as much as one’s structured approach to the questions posed. After clearing both the rounds, I was invited to appear for the final HR round. And I must mention, that it was the best part of the whole recruitment process; I never felt more comfortable. It was all about communication skills and knowing yourself and of course, your résumé. Just to cite an example, I had mentioned about my speaking skills in my résumé, hence I was given a topic to speak a couple of lines on that.
Why did you pursue an internship away from your core field? What made you do so?
I’d rather say that Finance chose me for my internship; and not vice-versa. Simple reason. I am pursuing my B.Tech in Textile Engineering and I wouldn’t have minded working for a core company either, because my branch excites me pretty much. However, core companies didn’t turn up before the non-core ones and before applying for a core internship, I ended up getting recruited by DB on Day-1.
How much new/extra knowledge did you have to acquire for your field? How did you prepare yourself for the interviews/selection procedures and how well equipped were you with requirements demanded from an intern?
To be bluntly honest, neither did I acquire any extra/new skills for the internship nor did I prepare for the interview (I just read a couple of news articles on that day to update myself, as informally informed). What I mean is that I did not put in any extra effort for DB per say. I had done a couple of economics courses before that, but it was out of my own interest and not for the intention of cracking interviews. (A senior executive at DB mentioned this to me a day before the interview – “DB is looking out for suitable raw material and we would shape you as required”) However, after I got selected, I did a course on Econometrics and Probability & Stochastics, to help me handle the finance based internship better.
Could you tell us about the company where you interned, the culture and work ethic in the office there and what sort of work did you have to do?
It feels nostalgic to be writing about DB. With regards to my work, I interned with the Distressed Products Group (DPG) in Global Credit Trading (GCT) division. My team had envisaged a dual project for me - Stratifying and modeling cash flows for a live transaction and developing an Excel-based model to price NPLs. DB is a place with a fine line of culture and work ethic. Interning with a big, reputed firm like DB sounded intimidating in the beginning. However, I was soon proved wrong. The concept of flat hierarchy makes DB stand out; we could directly ping even the Vice Presidents of various other desks to know about their businesses. We were appointed ‘buddies’ to whom we could reach out for any non-project related trouble. Besides, our desk heads were always there to guide us on each and every step of the project (at least mine was and I consider myself to be extremely lucky for having worked under such a manager, who was more of a friend and less of a boss). Besides the manager, the entire team was there to support me and help me out. I really miss my desk! The HRs never encouraged us to work beyond 10 hours a day (though it used to be 11.5 hours a day on an average for quite a few of us due to the shear amount of work :p) and in fact working on holidays was not permitted (only if we had some urgency were we allowed and that too after getting a proper permission). In spite of the workload, work-life balance was not tough to maintain at DB.
What all skills were required in your specific internship? Did you acquire those from your courses or did you have to put in extra effort? Did IIT help you in obtaining any of the extra knowledge required?
I think analytical and mathematical skills which we develop at IIT as a part of our regular course curriculum proved to be quite useful. Besides, strong communication skills were a must, also managing time well ensured a work-life balance. I did economics courses and mathematics courses like Econometrics and Probability and Stochastics to develop a better understanding of the basic underlying tools. So yes, extra effort is needed to get that extra edge!
Describe a regular day there as an intern compared to how the weekends were or any other holiday? How did you spend free time, if any?
My desk timings were European, hence I was supposed to reach the office by 12pm. Even though my team didn’t come that early, I made sure that I had some work till the time my desk head arrived. This was followed by discussion about the progress in project and the problems which I was facing. After that I used to work on my own, breaking for lunch, dinner and occasional coffee breaks. We also had a couple of DB parties on some weekdays, which used to mark a departure from the regular schedule. After the leaving the office at around 11:30pm, I would reach IITB (where I stayed during the summer) by around 12 to 12:30am. After a hectic working day, anyone would want to sleep and rest :p As compared to weekdays, weekends were a treat; leisure at its peak! :’) Enough time for relaxation, hanging around with the fellow interns and of course, exploring Bombay; we didn’t leave even a single weekend free!
How well do we, as engineers, compete with the other interns in non-core jobs? If bad, explain any possible reasons and their remedies?
I guess analytical and mathematical skills come naturally to engineers, so they compete well or may perform even better as compared to people from a non-engineering background. But, people from a non-engineering background specialize in a certain field, so they might overpower engineers in that respect, because we tend to specialize in our core technical field but pursue the non-core area just out of interest. So, staying focused on one area might help; taking all necessary measures to develop skills required for a successful career in that field.
Do you regret doing or not doing something there, or is there anything that you are proud of and will cherish for a long time?
I feel that DB lays a considerable amount of emphasis on ‘networking’ - It’s not just how well you do your work, but how well you network around, get to know people from other desks, understand the different works and learn from them. Though I did enough networking for me to absorb, I feel that I could have opened up much more with the VPs and the AVPs. There are countless memories which I have brought home from those 2 months (May, 2016 to July, 2016) - meeting some new and awesome people, working in a new, corporate environment for the first time, spending time with friends and getting to know them, to name a few. Perhaps, some years down the line whenever I retrospect, I'll find some of the most memorable days of my life carefully wrapped up in an album called DBC ;)
Do you have any suggestions for your juniors? Any pitfall you’d like to warn them about during the application process or any skill they should spend time on developing, which could be useful later?
To my juniors, I would just like to say that IITD has given you an amazing opportunity to develop your overall personality – cache that. But you must not forget that the primary reason you are here is to study and build your career. Academics should not take a back seat, for no reason. In my first year, the professor who used to teach us Engineering Drawing told us in his last class that ‘BALANCE’ was the most important and useful word. Remember that excess of anything is dangerous. Do what you are passionate about and not just for the heck of doing it because it might leave you in the middle of some path, essentially nowhere. Too many fingers in a pie might not do you any good. So have a focused and a structured approach. And most importantly, be inquisitive and have the quest to learn more. Learning never exhausts. Don’t ever feel that you know everything - overconfidence kills; instead help those who need you, help them rise with you. Lastly, I believe that one should put in the best efforts into a task and do full justice to it; there shouldn’t be any regrets later on. Leave the rest to Him; He will take care of the rest.
Luck has a peculiar habit of favoring those who don’t depend on it.
Thank you so much for sparing your time and answering our questions. We wish you the very best in all your future endeavors.