Sudharsana KJL: Internship at Morgan Stanley

Please give us a brief description of your profile.
Hey! I’m Sudharsana, B.Tech CSE final year. I did a Technology Analyst Summer Internship at Morgan Stanley, Bangalore. I was a part of Spider WebDev, TEDxNITTrichy, Technical Council of Pragyan and Festember Events. In the journey of my growth as a person in college, clubs have been an integral part. The people that I have worked with in all these clubs shaped me into what I am right now.

How was the process of getting the internship?
We had an online test for about 90 minutes, after which 15 people were shortlisted. We had a technical round after that, which was followed by an HR round.

How was the your internship experience?
During my two months in Morgan Stanley, there were individual projects assigned to most of us and the whole experience was really nice. It was not just technically oriented; they also gave us training on finance and professionalism so that the transition from the school life to the corporate world was very smooth. They made sure that all of us didn’t take on a lot of pressure in spite of the fact that we had a lot of tasks to do. They ensured that we had the proper training to take up the challenge.
My day at Morgan Stanley would start with a training session and then we would start working on our project. The kind of tasks that were given to us was very challenging and I had no idea about the software we had to work on. Banks like Morgan Stanley have a huge amount of data on which they perform analytics. My project was involved in the data-lake platform. It was very interesting, as I had no idea of the technologies I had to work with before joining the firm. There were many training sessions. Most of the coding was in Java, Python and Scala.
The culture at Morgan Stanley was nice and pleasant. We had Innovation competitions which had our ideas presented to the Indian division of Morgan Stanley. Though we were interns, we were all treated as equals – all of us could submit an idea and get selected to go through for the next rounds.
Each of us has a manager and a mentor (aka the “buddy”). My buddy and my manager were very supportive and always motivated me to participate and not just stick to my project.
There’s also a global innovation challenge at Morgan Stanley. However, I couldn’t participate in it as it wasn’t during the duration of my internship. But I saw my colleagues who participated and got shortlisted. If your idea is really novel and good, they’re ready to fund it.
All the mentors encourage interaction. They don’t just give you problem statements and leave you to it, they change you as a person too. We had personality development sessions, like ‘Who am I?’ which helped the transition. Sessions like those taught us what we should do and how we change as a person, to become better. So, Morgan Stanley was a very good experience as along with the technical aspects, they gave us proper professional training.

As someone who got a PPO after your intern, what would you say are the criteria they take into consideration while determining who gets the PPO?
They shouldn’t just stick to the project. Obviously, the project does play a very important role, as at the end of 2 months, they see what output you’ve given and how you’ve approached the problem statement. So, I’d ask you to interact with everyone as much as possible. Network with them, as at Morgan Stanley you have got the freedom to go and talk to anyone. It’s an open door culture. So, be it Vice President or Executive or Managing Director, you can go talk to them anytime. I met a lot of interesting people who are working on cutting-edge technology.
We also had an interview towards the end of the internship. That also plays a vital role in determining your chance of getting a PPO. It is similar to the ones in college but if you’ve done your 2 months training well and imbibed everything they taught, the interview shouldn’t be very hard as it was more like conversing with him about the important technology related topics and mainly focused on designing. They ask you about how you approach a problem statement because that’s how you’ll come up with a solution for it.

Did you require any prior knowledge in finance?
Morgan Stanley is one of the best wealth management company. I had no idea what “wealth management” was before joining the firm. However, as we were making software for the finance segment, they ensured that we understood the financial part of it in spite of being from a technical background by conducting financial training sessions. These sessions also included basic concepts like data structures and algorithms which were very important being from a CSE background.
One good thing with Morgan Stanley is that the campus in Bangalore has both Finance and  Technology. It is a global in-house centre. So in case you are looking forward to a career in finance, you will get that exposure in Morgan Stanley. You can talk to the CAs and CFAs who work in the firm and get to know their work experience. It will be a good place to network.

As a CIC rep, what tips would you give?
I’d say preparation is very important because no matter how smart you are, you won’t be able to crack the interviews without proper preparation. I’ve seen my peers falter in most of the interviews though they’re good at coding because of the sheer amount of stress that was involved. I see most of the juniors getting demotivated, and the placement season has just begun. They should stay positive and prepare. For the online test, you’ve to code in different platforms like HackerRank. So, practise on HackerRank to get a hang of it. But that preparation won’t help you when it comes to interviews. That’ll need a different kind of preparation and they should understand what’s required in each round.

Can you tell us how you prepared for the interview process, for each round?
Around a month before the internship season started, I was practising questions in GeeksForGeeks, HackerRank, all of which had a pretty standard set of questions. While practising, I made sure I understood the core concepts such as Operating Systems, Database Management Systems and Networks, which are very vital. These three subjects will definitely be tested in your interview, especially Operating Systems.
When you’re writing a piece of code, you should understand why you’re writing it. You can’t just mug up codes, you need to know what each line of your code does, and why it is being written. Also, how you solve a question is important. Object oriented programming including basic concepts like polymorphism and inheritance is also something which companies expect you to know really well. So, the basics are very important.

How did the HR round go for you? What do they test you on?
The HR round went pretty smooth for me. They asked me about the coding culture here, in college. And being part of a tech club in college really helped. I could talk about the projects I did and the difficulties I faced. They wanted to know how I overcame the problem when I was facing it. I gave him a few examples from my projects where I struggled a lot to get a solution, and how I felt when I finally got a solution to the problem in question.
They see your learnability as well, because in the growing software field, you shouldn’t be good at just what you know. You should be able to learn quickly and implement it.

How important are clubs to them?
Although it’s good to be in a club, you don’t have to be part of a club to do projects. Iknow people who’ve done incredible projects on their own. But for people who like peer learning, discussions, coming up with ideas and working together as a team, being a part of a tech club really helps. And it also shows that you’re a team player and that you can work really well in a team, because in a firm, that’s what you’re going to do, you’re not going to work alone.

What do they look for in your resume?
CGPA does play an important role, but then even if your CGPA is relatively low, and you have a good set of achievements, like winning coding competitions, participating in hackathons, and having good group projects, they also play an important role in your selection. Most of the companies look at your resume before they interview you. So first, they look at your CGPA, then at your achievements, and then go to the projects section. So the kind of internships you’ve done before, the kind of experience you have, and the projects you do, they all play a vital role.

Do they question you about CGPA drops, in case you have one?
They do ask about CGPA. Since I was a part of college clubs, I had to balance between academics and club activities . So, I could show the kind of work I did to balance the CGPA drop.

What makes interning at Morgan Stanley special?
One thing about Morgan Stanley is that you’ll definitely learn a lot. You just won’t go and work for their benefit. You will also be benefitted. Not just technically but also you’ll change as a person after going there, by being in that professional environment.
Also, Morgan Stanley follows its core values a lot, like putting the clients first, giving back to the society, leading with exceptional ideas and doing the right thing. They have a Global Volunteering Month during the course of my internship. As part of that, we all went to different places around Bangalore, and we volunteered. We went to the Akshaya Patra Foundation where they make food for school children, and they distribute to them. We visited pet care centres, center for people with terminal illnesses, and we had a good experience helping them. So the internship is not just output oriented, they change you as a person.

Will they look at Social Responsibility if you have it in your resume?
When you come to the HR round, they try to assess what kind of a person you are, and whether you are good for the firm. So when you say that you’ve done volunteering, that does show that you are very compassionate and you have good volunteering skills, and you are ready to help others.

What were the difficulties you faced while doing your project? How did you ask for help?
If a teammate is stuck in a problem, you should be ready to help him. Even when you are stuck, people will immediately come and help you. For my project, I had to coordinate with people from Mumbai and Chandigarh. It was a research-oriented project, where I had to make a proof of concept (PoC). I had no idea about this technology so I had to talk to people to get help. From a PoC, my project moved on to be a proper application and it got deployed and people do actually use it now. All this happened because of the kind of help that I got from others, so the people looking forward to interning with Morgan Stanley should definitely network with people.

How were your co-interns?
We had interns from different IITs, BITS Pilani and different NITs. We were a bunch of around 35-38 students in the Morgan Stanley Bangalore Campus and we had another 30-40 students in the Mumbai campus. Even though we were in different campuses, we had those video conferencing sessions through which we interacted. My co-interns were very helpful. All these training sessions helped us know each other. We had some ice-breaking activities which helped us bond a lot.

Where there any other difficulties that you faced in the internship?
Well, firstly, adjusting to the corporate world itself was pretty difficult. We had to wear formals everyday to office (Business casuals are allowed now). But with the training they gave us, it made this transition very smooth. Probably, in the first two days, I would have felt a little different walking into the office, but then slowly I got used it.
There were a lot of hiccups, but we did overcome it by networking with the other people in the firm.

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