Welcome everyone! Today we have with us Mr. Akshay Jain, who has been placed at Lam Research. Let’s start with Akshay’s introduction
Hi there, I’ll just quickly introduce myself, I am Akshay Jain, and I am a final year undergraduate in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, pursuing a BTech in manufacturing Sciences and an MTech in Industrial and Systems Engineering.
How did you decide to go in the core profile, considering that coding and data are usually most discussed?
It was something that was built upon from my first year itself. In the first year, I was involved in Robotics, and in my second year, I got involved in a research group called Aerial Robotics, where I was a hardware team member. That’s where the initial foundation began. Then in my first year, the winter workshop is where I got the knack for hardware robotics. I figured that the implementation of concepts was more appealing to me than anything theoretical. So, then in our research group, we worked on designing stuff and making the hardware more reliable. So that’s where it eventually started, and after that, in my third year, I tried to pursue coding and data sciences as everybody was doing at the time, but something about that didn’t resonate with me. I tried picking them again a couple of times after that, but I decided that it’s not for me pretty soon. After which, I got more and more involved in robotics. Then I tried to get an internship in Canada through various programs like UARE, MITACS etc. That was usually your best shot at a respected university. Fortunately, that year, many of the students from IIT Kharagpur were selected for the internship; I was one of them. The project there was also very much related to what I had already worked in, which immensely helped build my profile. That was pretty much where I got my experience and the internship and played an essential part in the interview, in the test that I gave and finally in placement that I got.
So, now that we have known all about how interesting these fields can be, even though they say Coding and Data Analytics are the best fields. Can you elaborate on the general interview process, round by round?
Lam Research offered two core profiles: mechanical and electrical Firstly, they took a pen and paper test where they gave you 10 or so theoretical questions. As far as I can recall, they were not too difficult, but on the basic concepts that you study during your second and third year like heat transfer, fluid mechanics, a combination of those. A few questions from mechanics that we learn in the first year and mechanics of solids were combined in 10 questions. I’d rate them as easy to moderate level. Even when it was online, you had to solve each question on a piece of paper, take a photograph of it, make a pdf of it, and upload it on the given platform. That was the only test for shortlisting. After that, I think about 10–15 people were shortlisted for both profiles.
Thank you for elaborating about the first round in such great detail. I must say our readers will get a lot of insight from this. Now can you please talk about the next rounds?
Next, the shortlist was released and then in the early morning, the first interview started, and it went on for around 1 hour for each candidate where they looked into your resume, they asked you about the best project which you could describe, and the resume dictated that interview. They went in-depth on every project or project that they found relevant to the field you said you were interested in. They dug deeper into it, and they asked you theoretical questions and conceptual questions linked to your project. After they took the first round, the shortlisted people faced the next round of interview wherein it was an aggregate of the HR and tech combined. Here they asked about things like if you want to go for higher education and all. They wanted to test if we were fit for their industry. So they asked me a bunch of HR questions (Like if you could change anything in your past, what would it be?) and technical questions similar to the first interview, and that was it. There were no further rounds after that (The first was purely technical, and the second was an aggregate of HR and technical).
So, I guess we have, in-depth, gone through all of the rounds, so now let us move to one common question, which is always asked. Many of us have heard that if we are going for a core Sector, our CGPA should be very high. Would you like to comment on that?
I want to say that, yes, CGPA plays a vital role, I cannot emphasize that enough, but an essential aspect of getting through your interviews are the projects and actual practical knowledge of things. So, in my case, I didn’t have a very high CGPA, but I had involvement in Research groups, Robotics and I had done a foreign internship, along with certain substantial PORs. So, even if you do not have the CGPA, you need to have the other things that balance out the difference between you and the other candidates. You need to have the knowledge and a good experience on projects. The only thing that matters more than your GPA is your ability to convince the interviewers about your other skills, knowledge, and expertise.
So, would you advise that we should place experience higher than the CGPA?
I am saying that there should be a good balance between both. And even if you feel that your CGPA is not good enough for going to such companies, you can always have good sufficient work experience and practical knowledge of how things work to crack it. Both items are equally important, but you need to have the other aspect equally strong if you do not have one thing. Finally, the fact remains that things become much simpler when you have a decent CGPA, so you should work for that. And in case you feel that theoretical work doesn’t excite you much, you can always pick up projects to learn their practical aspects. Both of the things will take you a long way if you work hard.
That was quite insightful. So, our next question is that there are many resources we use while preparing, so would you like to mention some of the sources you used during preparation, online courses, books, or anything else?
So, not particularly for this, because I just prepared my CV, given that’s the main thing that guides the interview flow. So, I would say that you should study the core technical courses like Fluid Mechanics, Mechanics of solids and stuff, you know things like that. People usually try to dig deep into subjects thinking the questions will be very hard. But in my experience, that’s not true. I’ve figured that the in-depth knowledge in such things is often not very useful, because they ask you basics only. And that’s where you need to be good at. Not just knowing it in theory but knowing why are they implemented. So, you need to be aware of all the basic formulas, conceptual learnings and a little practical knowledge. You need not dig too much deeper into these topics, but you need to have a good conceptual understanding of the main subjects.
So, you said, we should be paying attention to the core subjects like Fluid Mechanics, Mechanics and Solids. Could you mention, apart from these, some important topics?
So, heat transfer was an important topic for most of the questions they asked because my project was related to it somehow. So, there is no hard-bound set of rules that you need to follow like, this is the subject they will exactly ask from. They can ask anything. It would help if you were well versed with the topics involved in your project; for example, your project involves fluid mechanics or mechanics and solids. You only need to be aware of the basic concept and some in-depth concepts in such topics.
So, I would like to ask what was your preparation strategy? So, like when the first round was over, did you change your preparation strategy? Or Did you change your preparation strategy for different companies?
Yes, of course, the core sector was not the only one that I was trying for. I tried to go for management consultancy for other companies that appeared like American Express and got shortlisted in some of them. Unfortunately, the major companies that I was aiming for, like ITC and P&G, didn’t come this year, so I had to work with what I had. If you talk about change in strategy for Round 1 and round 2, there wasn’t much. Since it was the same company, there was a change of plan between different companies, like for a core company, you have to give the CV where you have highlighted your projects. For management roles, you need a CV where your POR’s are stressed.
Oh, ok, one more question: Does POR play a part in the internships in the core sector or is it the research work?
Definitely, the ‘Research Work’ plays a significant role. I wouldn’t say that there wasn’t any role of PORs because when you have a POR it’s not just the certificate that matters but the experience you have with it. Your confidence to show up in an interview and your confidence to tackle the questions you don’t know how to answer is where your POR helps you. If you have a POR, it does not matter in terms of the certificate. Still, in terms of your overall experience to tackle difficult situations, I’d say it can make a significant difference. But if you are talking strictly about what helps you during the interview, that’s the research project you have done throughout your college and nothing else.
So, coming to the next question, what are the opportunities in the core sector you have got this year?
So, from the placement point of view, the opportunities in the core sector are minimal, not talking about the circuital cluster not CS, CC, Electrical, they get their ample opportunities in term of their core sectors, but when it comes to mechanical, civil, ocean engineering and naval architecture, biotech, the companies that visit are pretty limited. If you go further down, like for Metallurgy students, their opportunities decrease, and even the pay scale is not on par. People usually say that there are still well-paying jobs for you if you do a good amount of coding or data sciences. From what I experienced, if 90 per cent of jobs require data and coding, there are only ten jobs that would require core skills. I’d say that it is still moderately better than other departments in mechanical, but overall, the non-circuit core sectors have much fewer opportunities than their coding and data counterparts.
One last question would be, what advice would you like to give to your juniors who would be sitting for placement this year?
I already answered this question before in the question where you asked if CGPA is essential. So, people usually give up if their CGPA is like, say, 7.5 or 7, believing that the core field is not made for them, even if they have somewhat of an inclination towards it. Often the theoretical side of things doesn’t make too much sense, and that’s where you start to lose interest. Still, having a practical knowledge of things, going out there and participating in competitions, attending workshops, and joining research groups can change your view towards the core field. That’s what exactly happened with me, and eventually, things fell into place, I got a good amount of exposure to different experiences. But since I have been through this, I can tell you for a fact that if you are willing to do it despite the CGPA, you can make it into the core fields, but hard work in this equation remains irreplaceable. So if you are not earning your CGPA, it needs to be substituted with practical knowledge. Also, you can feel free to contact me on any platform if you need some further advice on building your core profile.
Thanks a lot Akshay for such insightful advice. At last, would you like to say anything to the general KGP junta out there, any advice for them, the first and the second years?
It’s been a tough year for all of us, you know. All of us are just sitting at our homes, hoping for things to get better, and I hope they will. And I cannot express this enough, but once you are in KGP, I would want you to try n-number of things that widen your horizon of the things you can learn and not just take you in a single direction. I wouldn’t tell you to go and try everything, but don’t shy away from different kinds of experiences and get out of your comfort zones. Don’t go saying ‘yaar ye to nahin ho payega’ or ‘Kafi mushkil hai ye’. Do not look at the status that these people are the only ones that get there. If you want to do something, just go for it and make sure that there are no regrets. And yeah, all the best for your future :)