Interview: R. Harihara Subramaniam (2016-2020)

Please state your name and profile.

I am R. Harihara Subramanian. I am doing my final year of B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering. I did my summer internship at Tata Steel.

What internships have you done before this one?

I have completed two internships in my second year before my internship at TATA Steel Limited(TSL) through the INSPIRE internship program. Both were of different profiles since I wasn’t sure of the field I wanted to pursue. One was a sales and marketing internship in an IIM B-incubated startup and the other was a technical project in BHAVINI, a government-run enterprise which is set to produce electricity using nuclear energy. The former project included cold calling and emailing for increasing the sales of the company’s products, which I found was quite redundant. The latter revolved around understanding heat transfer concepts and designing and analysing the 3D model of the fins used for heat dissipation in the plant system. This project taught me about heat transfer before the curriculum did and I did take away some important technical points from this project despite being a second-year student.

Please give some details about the selection process. 

The selection process consists of three rounds. The first being the online test (OT) which comprises of quantitative questions and technical questions related to heat transfer, design, strength of materials, production technology, engineering materials and fluid mechanics. The test wasn’t very difficult and could be cracked after perusal of online notes or GATE books.

This group discussion was unlike any other generic group discussion held on campus. The GD is structured in a way such that every person gets to speak for 1-2 minutes. A person has to voluntarily initiate the topic and someone else has to be the timekeeper. In the end, a 3 minute discussion time is allotted where everyone is allowed to put forth their views about the topic and summarise it. I can’t emphasise enough that one should stick to the particular topic because people consciously or unconsciously waver off from the topic and start talking just to increase the time of their speech. Also, brownie points are awarded if technical points are added in your speech.

Three people from each group were shortlisted for the final Personal Interview(PI) round. The PI lasted for around 20 minutes and was based mainly on my technical knowledge and my technical internship. They asked me about my favourite topic and asked me questions related to the basics of that particular topic. They even asked about my other internship and my experience in teamwork. Safety is one of the top priorities in the plant, hence I had mentioned the importance of safety in the interview which pleased them. 

Fortunately, I happened to meet my interviewer during my internship in TATA Steel, Jamshedpur (JSR). From the interviewers’ perspectives, they don’t look for much in a college student but expect the apt candidate to be fluent in speaking, have a good attitude and have some basic technical knowledge. 

How was the company’s work culture?

Needless to say, the company is very ethical in every aspect and it is directly reflected in their work culture as well. The timings for the daily work was from 09:00 to 17:00 and as an intern, my work revolved only around the project I was allotted. There was no deadline to be met or any pressure to complete my work. Employees were helpful in every step of my project and were humble enough to spare time and teach me the working of the systems. They truly believe in work-life balance and give emphasis to sports as well, which is evident from the quality of the sports facilities which they have in Jamshedpur. 

What are the standout points they look for in a resume?

I would say that they don’t emphasis much on your CGPA or your PORs. There is no ideal resume for being selected but I did find a trend in the past experiences of all my fellow interns. All of them had completed a technical internship in a private or a government company. This being said, it is not a hard and fast rule for getting selected. Having good hands-on experience in designing software like Solidworks, PTC Creo, ANSYS, etc. helps the interviewer to notice you. As mentioned earlier, portraying the aspects of your previous technical internship/ IPT such as safety, punctuality, ethics, etc. in your interview also increases your chance of bagging the internship.

What was your preparation process for the interview?

I chose 3 of my preferred topics in mechanical engineering and focused on them. Apart from the topics, knowing about engineering materials, iron and steel making processes also might help you during the interview. I had read up on topics related to my internship, which I think every student should since half of the questions asked in your interview will be related to your internship. 

Could you briefly describe the role you were given? What skills helped you during your internship?  What skills did you gain during the intern?

I was a paid vocational trainee (VT) who was given a project related to a set of mechanical systems of a particular plant that I was assigned to. My project was to improve the reliability of the particular system which falls under the umbrella term of reliability engineering. I had to understand how the system works and find the problems in the current system. I had to then implement certain methods to collect and analyse data using Excel. Using the results of this data, I had to suggest several solutions that when implemented could improve the efficiency and reliability of the system. The work is mostly office based but requires you to visit the plant according to your convenience. Knowledge of designing software surely helps and adds huge value during the final presentation. People management, operating MS Excel and the ability to understand technical concepts were the skills that helped me to carry the internship successfully. My key takeaways would be to manage time, learning the art of approaching senior employees, valuing others’ time, managing people, valuing the importance of safety and experiencing work in a professional workspace. 

Tata steel is a reputed company. How does the curriculum here train for a role there?

The curriculum in NIT Trichy tries to provide us the basics of the departmental courses which forms the foundation for building up knowledge. I feel practical experiences like these or IPTs provide a holistic approach towards the subject and helps students understand the concepts better. It has been said several times by many seniors, but I truly concur with the fact that the club culture in NIT Trichy helps students define their space and understand the rigours of any selection process. The clubs or teams provide an opportunity to work in a team, get to know people from other departments, both personally and professionally, face difficult situations and at some point of time, lead a team too. This definitely shapes one’s personality and approach towards a situation.

Would you like to share some insights on how to crack the process?

Explore different fields and find your interests. Learn basic skills like coding, designing, MS Excel, etc. and read a variety of books which may or may not prove helpful for placements but will surely help one in the future. Start developing interests in any field you like and work on it during your free time.


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