CDC — Core / Non-Core/ FT -Oh, what the hell!

We are back at the same time of the year when pre-final years from IITs will be going through the on-campus internship drive, trying their best to grab a 2–3 month internship opportunity in the summers’22.

This year, it's going to be unarguably different because of the fact that a majority of applicants haven’t experienced their sophomore year on-campus, a period of time when, usually, we try to figure out our interests and get to work on meaningful projects that shape our professional outlook, along with the seniors’ guidance.

I am one of those who have gone through this period of trending hashtags (#summers_sorted, #andha_paisa, #machaya), peer pressure, minor inferiority complex (he/she got the offer, I didn’t. Maybe there’s something wrong with me) and last but not the least, family expectations (not always).

Where do I come from?

During this time, last year, I was in a dilemma whether to go for CDC or research internships completely, instead of depending on both. I was adamant about not leaving the R&D in the automotive domain which dramatically reduces my search space, as far as CDC is concerned. Finally, I decided to go for both of them and I think it's actually better than relying on one of them completely.

By the 6th semester, I had 3 offers for FT (Foreign training) or in other words, a research internship in a foreign university and an offer from the CDC drive at KPIT Technologies Ltd.

Currently, I am working at KPIT Technologies Ltd. on the reduction of memory footprint and inference time for DL models in automotive applications. Furthermore, I am involved with Dr. Jeffery P. Chrstos from the Ohio State University on the performance assessment of Driver-in-loop simulators for minimizing subsystem-specific latencies.

I won’t lie but I was very skeptical during the initial months of CDC and FT applications as well. I got my respective CVs reviewed by different seniors and as per their feedback, I was in a good position but somehow, I wasn’t convinced. Not because of the seniors, but, I wasn’t confident about myself and the lack of self-confidence stands to date.

It’s time for the harsh truth. There’s no denying the fact that many of your friends in the SDE, ML/AI, Data Science, etc. aka the Non-core, have higher chances of grabbing an offer, compared to you if you are one of those who are not interested in the aforementioned profiles. And it's completely FINE.
Let me clarify that I am not trying to undermine any domain/profile for the sake of this blog.
It’s simple mathematics — the number of companies in these domains is substantially more than those in the core. Moreover, their recruiting capacity is higher as well.
Let’s face it, people say that it matters whether you get the offer on Day-1 or Day-2. Frankly speaking, it doesn’t. It surely makes the concerned individual happy and proud of this, but only for a few days. And just for this short-term pleasure, if you compromise your interests in a particular domain, then you are the one at loss. Job satisfaction and loving what you do is the primary reason people achieve what they want to.
It’s nobody’s fault specifically that the number of offers in Non-core is more. It's just how the industrial demographics of the country are.

What should I do to get what I want??

Firstly, a melodramatic approach, or in simple words, being “Kartik Aryan” about this or worst, giving up won’t help you in any way. You just have to build a well-thought roadmap that you can refer to, on your journey.
In order to do this, get in touch with people/seniors on LinkedIn who are currently working in a domain that aligns with your interest, and gain insights from them. Fun fact: my LinkedIn chat history has been more extensive than WhatsApp!

Research Internship

In reality, in order to get a research internship, you should at least have 2–3 worthy projects (self-projects are not so significant) on your resume and the next thing is to find a professor anywhere in the world. Recently, there’s been a sharp increase in FT offers because remote interactions have made it easier for professors to interact with the students, with no added expenses.
Refer to this blog for more info on how to apply, prerequisites, etc.

CDC internship

Getting an offer through CDC is not so difficult, provided you are not complacent and lethargic in your approach towards the involved activities. If you don’t believe this, no problem, even I didn’t when seniors said the same to me.

  1. Be completely thorough with each and every word you have mentioned in your resume. I mean it. Most of the interviewers stress a lot on your resume and you obviously don’t have any control over his/her questions.
  2. As for the tests, prepare for the aptitude questions, like those in CAT/GRE, and strengthen your vocabulary because sometimes they ask questions on reading comprehensions, synonyms, etc. Apart from this, the technical part (if applicable) varies from one company to the other. So, contact the seniors who have appeared for this earlier.
  3. If you are not sure about applying to a particular company, I would suggest that you should apply anyways. Submitting your CV doesn’t mean that you will be selected but if you miss the opportunity, then it's too late. I didn’t want to go for ITC nevertheless, I applied for it.
  4. A good grasp of communication skills is preferable since there’s no point in having a decent profile if you’re not able to talk about your knowledge and past experiences in a proper way. Practice speaking in English for around 10 mins at a stretch, in front of the mirror every day.
  5. A night before the interview, go to the company’s website and read about their motto, recent updates, and key innovations. In the HR round, if you mention these points, it shows that you are genuinely interested in the profile and you may be preferred over some other candidates. Apart from this, there are tons of videos available for HR round preparations on Youtube.
    As for the technical round, your CV is a key factor. And the rest of it depends on your conceptual knowledge, which you know how to prepare for.

If you are looking for an opportunity in mechanical engineering, this blog may be of interest to you. Additionally, don’t forget to go through the posts on the “KGP CDC Tales” Facebook group. A lot of people have shared their valuable experiences.

Off-Campus opportunity

If by the end of November or so, you haven’t been able to get an offer, then you have the option of applying for off-campus opportunities, i.e by contacting companies personally.
Keep in mind that your FT applications can continue in parallel. For the off-campus offers, I would recommend that you should be prepared with a list of around 20 companies initially. You should ideally prepare this list around Oct-Nov. You have to start contacting HR executives, HR managers, and alumni from KGP who are currently working in the company, at least after mid-January. If you choose to do so before, you are most likely to get a reply saying that contact them again in February or so.
LinkedIn, in my opinion, is the best way to get in touch with these guys. So, if your LinkedIn profile isn’t up-to-date and/or you don’t have a significant no. of connections, you should consider working on this.

The rest of the interview is similar to that in CDC, if not the same.
These are some of the blogs on off-campus internships, you may want to check out:-

  1. Hunting an off-campus internship
  2. Hacks to the “Off-Campus” Internship
  3. How to start preparing for Off-Campus Internships

I have received a lot of phone calls and messages across multiple platforms with similar questions and hence I thought of writing this blog so as to help the ones in need. I hope I have answered the possible queries. If not, do let me know!
Please check out Kshitij Anand’s blog on a similar topic but from a different and interesting perspective.

Thanks for reading!! Good Luck!
My website — Keshav Bagri.

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IIT Kharagpur’22 | Mechanical Engineering | Hungry and foolish soul | Website: keshavbagri.live

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Keshav Bagri

Keshav Bagri

IIT Kharagpur’22 | Mechanical Engineering | Hungry and foolish soul | Website: keshavbagri.live

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