Hello, I am Muskaan Kochar, a final year undergraduate at the Department of Chemistry. I am here to talk about my experience of a summer internship at Deutsche Bank. I will also touch upon how the pandemic made it a little different but still ended up giving me key insights with respect to my career options ahead.
A Thing Or Two About Non-Core Companies
Most of the non-core companies that recruit from technical institutes are familiar with the fact that most students do not possess a formal background in their field and have designed a curriculum to train their interns before assigning any work to them. Generally, interview shortlists are based on the resume, and the tests, if any, are psychological. So it is important to have a good resume which is formatted correctly. Once shortlisted, everything thereafter depends on your interpersonal skills. There are 2-3 rounds of interviews. Most students prepare for consulting firms by practising cases and guesstimates. This is something which is useful for finance interviews as well. Basic knowledge of probability, a thorough understanding of all the points mentioned in your resume and confidence should sail you through the process smoothly. For finance firms, coding is also a useful skill, though not necessary.
Insights Into The Interview Process
A typical interview comprises of questions and cross-questions, this gives us the freedom to stir it in our desired direction. The interviewers are here to see our strengths, to see what we’re capable of, under normal or stressed circumstances.
Last but not the least, attend the PPTs of the firms you’re interested in, to develop a fair understanding about them, their core values, their beliefs, work culture and their working procedure. The interviewer will provide you with an opportunity to ask questions if you have any. Decide for yourself, “why do you want to pursue finance (or consulting)”, not only will it help clear things out but is also a popular interview question.
For Deutsche Bank, there was a psychological test followed by three rounds of interviews, the first 2 rounds tested my understanding of what I’ve done so far. My previous internship at RWTH, Germany was the main topic of discussion. The third was an HR round, which was shorter than the previous rounds and it checked whether I was a good fit for the firm. Students are shortlisted after each round.
How COVID Altered Our Plans!
With the pandemic breaking out in the country, all our plans for the intern began to seem doubtful. Luckily, most of the companies agreed to have “Work from Home” internships. DB was amongst the first to commence. We had a week long training in finance by an external agency followed by a week of project specific training by our guides. Initially, there were some technical difficulties which the IT team was kind enough to help us with promptly. Every intern was assigned a project guide, a mentor and a buddy. In addition to that DB arranged for interactive sessions with various employees, right from the overall head to the ones who were interns like us and eventually had been hired full-time. Each and every speaker worked on something different and had tremendous knowledge about their field. I was amazed to see how responsive and supportive each and everyone was throughout.
Work Culture At DB
I had the freedom to choose a project out of the options available, each of which had been designed according to my skill set, this is also something I really liked about the team I was working with. I had to build an FX index (implemented using python) which would, in turn, be a part of a bigger basket of indices. An FX (abbreviation for foreign exchange) index is a basket of currencies in which an investor invests in order to diversify and receive steady returns (Cannot disclose specifics :D). I must mention each intern was assigned a different project
My project required me to interact with different teams and with other members of my team, who were mostly working in London. This is something I really liked about working at DB, the distance didn’t stop us from interacting! Maybe at first when we all weren’t familiar there was a communication barrier, the COVID situation was something no one had experienced, but in a couple of weeks everything smoothened out, we would have multiple calls during the day, if required, discussing the next step, or whether we had leads from the other teams and so on. Though we couldn’t meet in person, it has been a wonderful experience working with them as a team. All thanks to my guide and my buddy!
One major advantage of working from home was that the travel time was reduced to zero, reducing unnecessary exhaustion. There was a lack of informal interaction with fellow interns from other institutes, a gap we weren’t able to compensate for, but that’s upon us.
How Strenuous Was The Intern?
Every single day I woke up with a desire to work even harder and accomplish the overall goal of the project. Some days were rather hectic, some were moderately spaced out. I enjoyed my work and more than that I enjoyed learning from my team. There were significant spikes in my knowledge before the mid-term and final term evaluation, that’s when I questioned everything I knew. How did this happen? Why did we choose this? Is there another way? As I was working from home with my family by my side there was no way possible for me to be emotionally exhausted, this was certainly a perk.
Key Insights & Some Unanswered Questions
WFH is neither the future that we want nor do we expect it to be, but if there is a suitable working environment at home, ensuring optimum productivity, it may help cut down on significant costs for each and every firm rendering it as a possibility.
During the internship, I gained significant knowledge about finance and the plethora of opportunities available. Most importantly, I learnt how to work independently, which wouldn’t have been possible if I was working on ground. Before reaching out to my seniors, I would try solving issues on my own, this had an upside as well as a downside to it.
I wanted a little more time to continue working on my project, I wanted to see what the results were. But my guide told me that even if I stayed for another month I would leave with the same feeling because there’s always more work to do, there would have been side projects allocated to me here and there, keeping me engrossed.
I still wonder what my workspace would look like. Who would share the boundary of my cubicle (if it was a cubicle)? Would the coffee taste nice? I’ve heard about interns ordering often from the McD across the street and celebrating birthdays. Where could have I given my intern treat to my team? What would it feel like to present my final results to the panel in one of the meeting rooms? And what about all those formals I never bought?
To conclude with the key takeaways (that I cannot place enough emphasis upon) from my 8 weeks internship, that I am extremely grateful for, are:
- Ask questions! What may seem obvious to the seniors may not necessarily be obvious to the interns.
- Don’t be afraid of the jargons used in finance
- The work that we do is important, but having a good guide/ mentor/ buddy is way more important than that
- The growth curve will be exponential
Feel free to reach out 😀