On Campus Internships: Nutanix

In the second of its series on this year’s on-campus internship season, DoJMA brings to you its interview with the interns of Nutanix – Deep Chowdhury, Ishit Jain and Nishantika Garg from CSE, CSE and EEE respectively, who were selected over approximately 200 students, by this prestigious company known for its excellent internship projects and work environment. In a talk with us, they gave us valuable insights into their preparation for the different rounds,the process of facing the coding test and the interviews and the reasons behind their motivation and persistence. Read our article to find out how you too can be successful at bagging that dream IT internship.

DoJMA – What factors did you consider while shortlisting companies for the purpose of applying and then, joining?

Deep – I applied to Nutanix,Uber, D.E.Shaw, Rubrik and Microsoft. I received calls for further rounds from Nutanix,Uber and Microsoft. I got selected in Nutanix before appearing for Microsoft’s rounds. These are top companies in their fields that provide students with the best industrial experience to kick start their careers. On top of that they also provide a lot of perks and incentives to their employees like a good Job Profile and a conducive Work Environment.

Ishit – I applied to every IT company that was participating in the Summer Internship program because Summer Internships are a good way of getting industry work experience and they bolster your resume.I got a call from Nutanix and was selected for their internship after an interview. I looked for job profiles that every company was offering and based on that I wrote my applications. Some of my peers didn’t apply for some companies as the work that was mentioned in their profile didn’t match their interests. I will be joining Nutanix and I evaluated my choice on factors like the reputation of the company, work experience , projects assigned and perks that the company was offering.

Nishantika – I applied to Uber, D.E. Shaw, Rubrik, Nutanix and Microsoft and got selected for the second round of screening for Nutanix and Microsoft. I was concerned about the reputation of the company, the kind of work they’re known to offer to their interns and the general work experience of seniors who have previously interned with them. Nutanix had a great, well-rounded review from my seniors in terms of pay, work environment, facilities and brand-name. I had a wonderful interaction with their recruiting team, who were humble and had a very open-minded approach to selecting their candidates. They were more than happy to have a frank conversation with any student, shortlisted or not. I bluntly asked my interviewer why he would even consider hiring a person without a computer science background in the first place, and he answered that if a non-CS student had enough determination to be able to crack our coding round, it would be a mistake not to hire him/her.

DoJMA – How did you build your profile to suit the requirements of the company?

Deep – The most important skill that helped me get an internship was competitive coding. It helped me improve my thinking, knowledge of Data Structures and Algorithms as well as my coding skills. I did my personal projects and course projects meticulously.The companies I interviewed with did not test me on my CV. It’s good to have projects on your resume but most companies do not expect you to have a lot of good projects at this stage.

Ishit – The strong points on my resume were the summer internship project that I did during my PS-1 and my CGPA. My summer internship project was the development of payment framework using stellar blockchain, which I did at Liveweaver India Pvt. Ltd.The CGPA cutoff for most of the companies was 7 except for Rubrik which had a cutoff of 8.

Nishantika – My focus was mainly towards enhancing my DSA and problem-solving skills and I made sure to mention it in my profile. Since I have always been inclined towards CS, I brushed up on all the related secondary skills  and made sure to include them too. My profile was constructed to highlight my interests and skills, not particularly keeping one company in mind. In my opinion some of the stronger points of my resume were my basic DSA knowledge, knowing more than 2 programming languages decently well,  OOP and basic CS projects I did in school.

DoJMA – How will you rank each of these, and why, in increasing order of importance, for getting an internship in a coveted company: a) CGPA, b) Performance in coding round, c) Interview – Technical and HR, d) Projects.

Deep – CGPA does not matter at all apart from clearing the cutoff. It is safe to keep a CGPA above 8 to clear the cutoffs of all companies. The coding round is the most competitive stage and it is really tough to get shortlisted without any experience beforehand. Competitive programming is very important to improve your chances for clearing the coding rounds. The technical rounds are the most important to get selected after being shortlisted. The companies often decide primarily on the basis of the student’s performance in these technical rounds. Projects did not matter that much for internship interviews. I did not have any HR round for Nutanix but I have heard they are usually easy to clear.

Ishit – CGPA, projects, technical interviews, performance in coding round in increasing order of importance. The reason for performance in coding round being most important is that based on the result of this round only 10-15 people get selected for the next round and people having greater score in the coding round also get preference in the interview round.The technical interview comes next and it all depends on it then. In interviews, they sometimes also ask about your projects and you need to have sound information about what all you have done in it and the things related to it. If you have done good projects then it might be advantageous for you. CGPA is only going to help one clear the cutoffs – sometimes it acts as a tie-breaker for the result of the coding round for people who have scored the same in the coding round.

Nishantika –  Performance in coding round at par with performance in technical interview and HR round. You need to crack both to bag an internship. Then projects and then CGPA. Although the ranking may vary for different companies but IT companies in general look for competence in areas relevant to them and CGPA apart from letting you clear the cutoffs, is not very crucial.

DoJMA – How did you receive the required guidance for the coding rounds and the interviews? Which sources did you use for the preparation of these rounds?

Deep – I looked up previous year interview problems of the companies I applied to, so that I could get an idea of what to expect. There are plenty of online sources such as Geeksforgeeks and Interviewbit to practice for the coding rounds. I also asked seniors about their interview experiences to identify the key areas targeted during the interviews. As to the development of my coding skills,  most of the credit goes to competitive programming. It really helps improve your thinking skills and how effectively you can convert your algorithm to code. There are plenty of sites such as Codeforces, Codechef, Hackerrank, Hackerearth to practice.

Ishit – I talked to my seniors who got internships in the previous year and they guided me on how to prepare for the Summer Internship tests. For preparation, I used to participate in contests regularly on competitive coding platforms like Codeforces,Codechef,etc. which really helped me prepare for solving questions in the given time constraint. I also referred to interview preparation sites like InterviewBit and Geeksforgeeks which provided me with some of the standard technical interview questions.

Nishantika – I took help from my seniors, and brushed up on everything I had mentioned on my resume. My interviews were held in the first week of August, Day 2 of the internship season. I mostly consulted GeeksforGeeks and YouTube for my interview preparation and Codechef and Hackerrank for the coding test preparation.

DoJMA – Please tell us what transpired during the multiple rounds of selections. (the kind of questions in your coding round/technical and HR interviews, the difficulty levels, time limits and a general walk-through of the process.) Tell us a bit about the outcome of your selection. (the joining contract, the number of people selected etc.)

Deep – They selected the top 11 candidates from around 200 students on the basis of the coding round score. Out of the top 11 candidates, 7 were shortlisted through a group fly round where we had to debug a piece of code on a piece of paper. They then took interviews, 3 at a time, where each person was asked the same questions. There was a strict time limit of 45-60 minutes so each candidate finishes at the same time and the next set of candidates go in so they cannot discuss the problems with the previous candidates.There were 2 questions – one on Binary Search Trees and the other was an Ad-hoc problem. The problems were fairly simple if one has prepared well. They finally took 3 people in total decided on the basis of the group fly and the technical interview.

Ishit – :First there was a coding round for Nutanix. In this round there were two questions related to Data Structures and Algorithms,one included the use of binary search and the other included the idea of number of inversions. After this round about 11 people were selected for the next round.The next was a debugging round in which they gave a C++ code and we had to find the logical errors in it.Out of 11 only 7 people proceeded to the next round.Then came the final technical Interview round where 2-3 questions were asked related to Algorithms and we had to write the pseudocode for them.They shortlisted 3 students after this round for the internship.

Nishantika – The coding round consisted of 2 questions, both were fairly tricky but were based on simple DSA concepts (no graphs, no trees). They selected 11 students based on this. On the day of the interview the process started with a group fly round. We were each given a faulty code of Merge sort on a pair of linked lists and were required to optimise and correct the code. 7 students were shortlisted after this round.

I had 1 interview that lasted around an hour that  didn’t particularly focus on one area, the interviewer asked me everything ranging from why being a EEE student I was interested in a IT-based company, what according to me Nutanix exactly does, why was I not able to get CSE via BITSAT or a vertical transfer in my first year, etc. The interviewer said he was not interested in asking any technical questions, as he didn’t expect in-depth knowledge from a EEE student and had seen sufficient problem-solving ability in the coding and the group fly round. (the interview rounds of CSE students would have been very different).There wasn’t a proper HR round for us, it was just a small chat, and a discussion about our resumes. Finally, 3 students were offered internships.

DoJMA – Which Courses from your discipline are crucial in clearing the coding and interview rounds in your opinion?

Deep – The most important courses are DSA,OOP and DBMS for clearing the coding and interview rounds.

Ishit – Most of the focus in these tests is on Data Structures and Algorithms,followed by Object Oriented Programming and Database Management Systems.The latter two are asked only in technical interview round.

Nishantika – Apart from CP, to some extent, no course in my transcript really helped me in my preparation for the coding rounds at all.

DoJMA – Any other message that you would like to pass on to the readers?

Deep – Practice DSA and coding beforehand and do not leave things for the last moment.

Ishit –  I would just like to say that for having a good grip over Data Structures and Algorithms, you should start doing competitive coding at least a year before your internship tests and not delay it till the last two months are left as you have to work in your PS-1 as well.This will help you develop your problem-solving skills.Also talk to seniors who  have already secured their internships and they will guide you in preparing for these tests.

Nishantika – I would like to suggest to all EEE/EIE/ECE students who are interested in the IT sector but may not be planning to appear for internships due to lack of preparation, to go ahead and give it a try. The internship process is very similar to actual placements and can be a great push to your placement preparation.