Sunday, September 27, 2009

To the moon and Back

They found water on the moon. I'm too filled with awe to say anything more.

Monday, September 14, 2009

National Instruments

Petrified. This is what i was before my first interview. What seems like ten thousand rounds later, I still don't know if I have the job.

Let me explain. The first company which came for placements was TCE. Without any prep, I was lost in the technical test.It being the preliminary elimination round, I was happily not shortlisted. Supremely unprepared for any sort of interview, I was unperturbed by the outcome. This should ideally have instilled some amount of fear in me so that I ready myself for the next company to knock on our college's door. Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, it didn't.

The next company to arrive was NI. Intimidating and awesome. Sudeep, the badminton hero of the trical department came and gave us a seminar about the job and the company's products. Suave and sophisticated, he had completely transformed form a college 'stud'ent to a professional in just a matter of a month. Impressed, people bombarded him with queries about the selection process and the talk quickly degenrated into an informal discussion about how awesome it was to work at NI. The seminar opened with a Dilbert video, went on to clips of robots that UG students designed playing football and ended with another Dilbert video announcing how awesome it is to be an engineer. :)

That did it. I had this horrible urge to clear the interview and all the rounds which stood in my way. There was only one dark spot in the glorious picture in my head and try as i may, it seemed that my mental eraser made no difference how much ever muscle i put into erasing it. This blip was the CAT style aptitude test. With all the CAT aspirants oozing confidence, I was sure I was a goner but somehow, Lady Luck decided to give me a break and voila, my name was in the shortlist.

I was now in full panic mode. So much to do, so little time. I didn't have my file ready and neither did I have an extra copy of my resume. To top it all off, I had to prepare for a technical presentation. Hoping that nothing would go wrong, I ran from the internet cafe to the xerox shop to the reading room to the hostel till I was ready to explode. After some deep breaths, I calmed my hyperventilating self and waited in the TNP cell for my round of Group Discussion to commence.

Hoping against hope that I don't get a topic regarding some obscure branch of politics or the food habits of the Jingotaka tribe of Honolulu, I entered the room. Thankfully, the topic for the session was "Advertising is just a diplomatic way of telling a lie" and we, the generation brought up on extra sweet chocolate frosted sugar bombs and mindless television, were able to bullshit safely for the given 8 minutes.

It was nerve-racking waiting for the next shortlist, what with guys pacing about the hall like expectant fathers from an 80s movie. After it was announced, we had the technical presentation which went off smoothly, thanks to the fact that i knew my summer internship project like the back of my hand.

Having decided that ignorance is bliss, I decided not to prepare much for the interview. Anyway, how much electrical engineering can a person cram in one night?
I was scheduled to go in second, owing to the fact that me and Sachin Gupta(FYI, he is the tronix topper) had the OPJEMS exam in the afternoon. Sachin went in and I was all alone in the waiting room. The clock ticked away, and it was so unreal. All the companies which had come so far had interviews that generally lasted 15-10 minutes on an average, but this one seemed like it had no end in sight. I forced Piran to open his mouth and talk, just to prevent my mind from wandering into dangerous lines of thought.

After what seemed like an eternity, Sachin came out. His interview had lasted for about one and a half hours. My turn was next. I go in. After some brief clarifications regarding my resume, they begin by asking me the most difficult of all questions- "Describe yourself". After that, they ask me to make up a story on the spot because I had said i like to read and write. I stumbled through that by making up some vague story about the auto driver being a murderer-psycopath and how i escape his clutches to save the day.

Then came the technical part. One of the panel, a Mr. Sameer Nagpal, explained to me that a topic will be chosen(of which i will have absolutely no clue about), and they will help me figure out an answer. This was so that they could see how my well my thought process works or if I am just a well disguised robot which has no mind of it's own. A clever ploy on their part. Anyway, it was an interview like no other.

There has been and there will be none like it. If I didn't know something, they were almost happy about it, pointing me in the right direction so that I could figure it out. These were smart people. Very smart and super cool too. In what seemed like no time, it was almost 12 and i had to rush for my OPJEMS test, and they let me go after a couple of more questions. The interview was such that I couldn't gauge how well I had performed and i decided to put the thought out of my head. This is of course, after answering the question "How'd it go?" about two thousand times.

Was happily out in Sadar in the evening, just getting out of Reds, when i get a call asking me to come to the TNP cell asap. Reached there in casual clothes and a headache. An interminable wait later, they call me into the cabin and grill me for anther couple of hours. By the end of it, I was shivering with cold and nursing the worst headache I've had in a long while. When they told us that we'll be sent to Bangalore for more interviews, I didn't know whether to whoop in joy or to break my head on the nearest wall. The impression I got of the workplace was a fun filled atmosphere, with Pizzas and bean bags on Sunday nights and maddeningly full workload otherwise. Seemed to guaranteed awesomeness.

An unexpected interview over the phone happened yesterday. Flying to Bangalore hopefully this week. By the end of this week, I'll know one way or the other. Can't wait to meet more people at NI. Whatever happens, it's for sure gonna be a whole new world.