Uthaan
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PlaceKode with Saurabh Gupta placed at Urban Company

Here we are with a brand new article of PlaceKode by Uthaan, the Journalism and Recreational Club of ABV-Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management Gwalior. With us, we have Saurabh Gupta who is placed at Urban Company, sharing with us his advice to all for developing the required skills and his interview experience.

Congratulations sir for being placed at The Urban company. What’s it like being placed at one of the finest companies?

It feels great being part of one of the finest startups in the country. Recently it has been included among the top 10 startups across India and that helped it gain more recognition. After being placed in it, it felt great to me that my hard work paid off and that I was working among the top 10 startups.

Could you tell us about your job profile?

My job profile is Software development engineer I. So this is basically the entry-level position in majorly all companies. One later gets promoted on the basis of their experience and their performance to Software development engineer II and Software development engineer III.

What are you currently working on as an SDE I?

Basically, I was working in the Backend team and more specifically the platform teams in the backend team. So what platform teams do is like there are a lot of developers who develop products and all. So for those developers to develop the product with very much efficiency and ease there needs to be some internal developer tools. The platform team works on those developing their productivity tools. These tools that we build increase the productivity of the developer.

It feels great that my codes have gone live and people are using them and giving feedback.

Please share your work from home experience like how did you adjust to the current working environment.

I was a bit worried because of the news of offers being revoked, internships being revoked during the nationwide lockdown and so I panicked about it. I was having 2 to 3 internship offers but at the same time, I was worried like what if all of them got revoked. Hopefully, at the end, I got a call from Urban Company and everything went well and they said you will be joining us as an intern. I was relieved after that update.

I was excited to be working from the office but it didn’t happen. I remotely got onboarded. So the excitement got a little faded but overall it felt great. I received all the work from home equipment for my work.

Can you please tell us about your interview experience?

It was around February. I was contacting people like there was no formal opening for the startups. Usually, they hire them as per their needs and the reference that they get. So I started getting in touch with people of that company. I was lucky enough to get a referral from an employee of that company. He liked my profile and referred me for an intern position. After that three rounds were scheduled.

So could you brief us about the interview process round wise?

The first round was a design and a computer science fundamental round. In that round, the questions were around concepts like the OOPs, DBMS and some questions around design. It went pretty well as I was having an idea that the interviewer was satisfied.

After a week, I got a call for the second round of interview. It was a DSA (Data Structures and Algorithms) round. Two questions were asked which were of moderate difficulty level. I could solve these and managed to reach round three. The third round was basically a Hiring Manager round. It was a purely technical round and the questions were again DSA based. The first question was easy and the second question was a bit tricky. I couldn’t solve the question completely. Like my solution was not the answer that he was looking for so he dropped me some hints. I was not very sure how this round went but after a week I got the call. This was the whole process.

What was the mindset of the interviewer, was he strict throughout or was he dropping some hints. Also what to do if we get stuck at a point?

The key point here is that, whenever you are given a question during an interview, take your time, absorb the question, think aloud and then express your ideas clearly to the interviewer. This will help you because let’s say that you are thinking in a different direction then the interviewer will correct you by dropping some hints and if you are going correct then the interviewer will let you continue. With this, the interviewer will get to know about your thinking process. Sometimes we take the question in an altogether different direction, so firstly understand the question, ask for clarification and once you are clear with the question, then proceed forward. So if you’re stuck somewhere and you know you won’t be able to proceed further so don’t waste time instead ask for help there is no problem in doing that.

Sir, also you have vast experience at internships at various companies. So please tell us about your experience that you gained at these tech giants like Directi and Urban Company. How did your internship at Urban Company got converted to a pre-placement offer?

Directi

It wasn’t a software engineering internship. What I gained from that internship was that it added a big name to my resume in the second year itself and it helped me a lot. I leant how the corporate world works.

Urban Company

In the initial days, you will struggle with things because whatever project you worked upon, they were the local projects like development code, suddenly you have been put into an environment where you have to write the production level code. So they are altogether different things and you will doubt yourself over small things. In that case, ask doubts from your mentor as they have been in your shoes a few years back so they can understand at what position the interns are. The second thing is to interact as much as possible with your team members. Get an idea about their problems and what they are trying to solve. Align with their long term visions. When considering you for hiring they would look if you meet their long term vision and goals. If you don’t meet their goals they won’t hire you. They want their interns to be aligned with their long term goals.

Also, the plus point is that the deadlines in internships are flexible but whenever you are given a deadline try work within the deadline. It would give a good impression on the manager and your mentor and so I followed all those things. I had a chat with my mentor and he said that I picked up things in a very mature way which is not usually expected from an intern. That compliment really felt great. After some days I got a call that I got the pre-placement offer.

Did you have a checklist for your last-minute preparation? Do last-minute preparations help or the ones which you practice for a period of time have a good impact?

Last-minute preparations obviously help but only if you have built up the concepts beforehand. Try to be consistent from your third year. Solve at least 2–3 questions daily.
Last-minute checklists are always company oriented. Let’s say you have an interview for a certain company the next day, so at the last minute, you should go with all the previous interview questions of that company. The preparation should be long term and you should rely on them. Sometimes last minute things work but these are rare. So you should work hard from the beginning.

Consistency is the key.

How did you manage the stress/pressure in that period?

The nervousness before the interview is natural but if you are nervous during the interview then there is some problem. You need to work on this else your performance will be affected. So just be confident during the interview and give you best.

We do many projects in web development. But how to finalise what to put up on our profile? As a web developer, what should we do to stand apart from the crowd?

I personally didn’t do many projects in web development and the B.Tech Project (BTP) which I did was not very much related to software engineering. It was related to the human-computer interface and even though it was quite complex nobody took an interest, as this topic is not in trend in India as of now.

According to me, two to three projects are enough to help you in your interview. You should put them in your resume.

So do two to three projects which you will do there will help you in your resume.

Could you please brief us on how to prepare for interviews? Please enlist the online resources also.

Start exploring things from the very beginning (first and second year). Placements oriented preparation can be done in the third year. Interview preparation is a straight path. It isn’t like you have to do a lot of diverse things. There are a lot of questions available on GeeksforGeeks and LeetCode. So practice a lot of questions and brush up on your basic computer science skills i.e., OS, OOPs DBMS. The preparation can be done within a span of 6–12 months. You have to follow a specific path while preparing for the placement. But in the first and second year don’t think of placement instead your focus should be on exploring new paths and learning new skills and concepts.

GeeksforGeeks can be considered if you are preparing for MCQs. But it is quite vast with more than 700+ questions per company so for practice purpose LeetCode is an optimum choice. Also, one more problem with GeeksforGeeks is that its IDE is weak. Even non optimal code also passes all the test cases and if you write that code in an interview it won’t give a good impression. This is where LeetCode has an upper edge.

If you are preparing for any MNC (company-specific) then you are indirectly also preparing for startups which ask DSA. For the companies which follow the design round instead of DSA round, you can refer to “Gaurav Sen”. There is a full playlist on system design. So for ‘Gojek’ type companies which ask system design-related questions, this playlist can be of great help.

What extra skills did you learn/pursued during this journey?

The experiences that you’ll gain throughout college life will directly affect your personality, like the clubs you are a part of. You’ll be meeting a lot of people. The major point is you must develop your networking skills (not the computer thing), if you aren’t able to make networking skills among your peers then you’ll not be able to make networks in the corporate world. In my case, being a part of a club helped me improve my personality and communication skills. The most important thing in the corporate world is networking. Even if you lose a job yet you can easily switch on to the next job using your networks.

Personality also helps a lot. While doing all the technical things, don’t forget that you have a personality to develop. I had an interest in photography and I was in the photography department of Uthaan. So even now whenever I get time I grab my camera and click pictures.

Your words represent you.

Your communication skill is a thing which everyone notices. Like if you are very knowledgeable but if you are not able to convey it to the interviewer then it won’t help.

We all know that you’ve been a very active member of many clubs and also the Director of Rotaract Club and you were always involved in other curricular activities. So please tell us about your experience and what are the things which you learned or gained from these?

Everything which I have gained in college like friends, memories, connections, Rotaract has been a major part of it. If I were not a part of those clubs then I would not be able to make such good bonds with my batchmates, seniors and juniors. It will give you a network or it will be better to say that you will find a family in it and it will also affect your personality in a great way. Like for instance, I text my juniors for any help and they also do the same. I have been part of many clubs but for the longest period, I have been part of Rotaract. I always keep on thanking the club for playing such an important role in my life.

What is competitive coding and why people do competitive coding? Also, how should the freshers start with competitive coding and why it’s important?

There are various platforms like HackerEarth, HackerRank, Codechef which conducts contests where a huge number of students compete. In that, there are algorithmic problems related to DSA. DSA questions though not trivial questions. There is a certain time frame for each question. You have to write the code optimally so that it passes the test cases. In short, competitive coding means competing in coding challenges. A good ranking on these platforms helps you get recognition in the coding community. Firstly, you should get yourself started with a coding language and build your fundamentals. Then for practice, move to HackerRank or HackerEarth followed by Codechef. After solving questions (topic wise), start appearing for contests. You need not be a pro for sitting in contests. Even if you are able to solve only one question during the contest then try to solve the rest of them after the contest.

It must be a great feeling for you that you have been included among 100 meritorious students across India by MHRD! Also, you were invited to attend “Republic Day event” which is indeed a feeling of pride for you and the IIITM family. So please tell us about your experience at that event?

I was on my cloud 9

I count it as one of the best experiences so far. Like it felt really good to be on the front page of the newspaper of my own city. I was in Bangalore doing some internships and then a letter for the invitation arrived at my house in Kanpur. It had an invitation for the republic day parade signed by The Deputy Secretary, The Government of India. It came all as a surprise. It felt great and it was my first experience living in a 7-star hotel and being treated as the guest of the Prime Minister.

When I added this to my resume, whatever interview I gave, they definitely asked me about this and this gave me a lot of edge over others.

In my opinion a success story is not only about the right things that were done. It’s about the mistakes that we commit. Mistakes teach us bigger lessons in life. What would be the advice you’d share with your juniors who are in their pre-final year regarding internship or placement interview. Like what mistakes you committed which you would like to share so that we all don’t repeat those?

Very rightly said, I made a lot of mistakes. When I was coming from 3rd to 4th year a lot of dream companies visited our campus but I thought how can I prepare for it too soon. I just finished my B.Tech. Project and I thought I needed two to three months preparing for it. So the biggest mistake was, I started giving excuses to myself instead of utilizing those 10 days. Those who utilized those 10 days managed to crack the interview. There will be no good time like you are fully prepared and sitting for an interview. It can be anytime that you receive a call from a very big company for an interview. Instead of thinking that I can’t do, work hard in that period. Whatever time you have, utilize it properly and don’t give excuses. At the same time don’t be too harsh on yourself.

It’s only a matter of time

Learn from your mistakes

Try everything with a chilled out mind. Everything changes in a day, like one day you are unplaced and another day you are placed in a very big company, in your dream company. There is no good time for anything. What you have, is the instant you are living in.

Interviewed by Arushi Agrawal and Sahil Mittal

Co-ordinated by Shambhavi Shandilya

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Uthaan IIITM

Uthaan IIITM

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Uthaan is the Journalism and Recreational Club of Atal Bihari Vajpayee Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management (IIITM) Gwalior.