Apply to get rejected
The intention to write this blog was set off from a college group chat, when I sent the link of an internship opportunity for the batch of 2024/2025. It was an onsite job, not a remote one. Apparently, it was looked at like an in-person "international" opportunity from a "huge firm".
Post the message I recieved multiple questions. And as much as I appreciate asking questions, I saw a pattern in those questions.
The questions were all focused on secondary problems.
- The location is London, it is not a remote opportunity.
- We are in Mumbai, so we can't intern in London?
- I saw the requirements, will I be good enough?
- This is a high level internship. Should I consider registering?
And this got me curious about why are people thinking narrow? Did I ever think like this?
And yes in fact, I did. When I got the opportunity to choose between Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore for my internship at JPMC, I ended up choosing Mumbai because I was thinking narrow.
Zooming out when making decisions
So, when a few months ago, the next batch after us got an opportunity to intern at one of the three locations: Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore — I insisted everyone to go to Bangalore (because of multiple reasons). And back then I got similar responses with respect to looking at secondary problems: Money, Travel, Food, Accomodation.
And at that time, I tried my level best to help explain — why Bangalore? Because I wish I knew this at that time, I wish I was thinking broad.
Which now makes me realize, we take the decisions that is best for us and optimal according to situation and context. Everyone's greedy. No one's right or wrong, decisions are circumstatial.
Back to talking about what's different in Mumbai and Bangalore?
Let's assume that your time (10 to 5) will be the same in ANY city. BUT, outside your work hours — the culture in Banglore is different.
How can I say this for sure? — I went for 4 days to BLR between my internship for a conference; and I liked the culture in the city. Every second person you meet is software engineer.
You meet so many people who are just BUILDING amazing things. There's a reason why it's the silicon valley of India.
Point being, you get exposure even outside your work hours, which one should leverage.
Relocation shouldn't be a primary problem. Focus on applying, focus on getting the job first. Then, figure out relocation and other problems.
Figure out if the opportunity intrigues you, if you're passionate about it, if you have some proof of work and experience around it. Then, write that in your cover letter.
With working real-time in organisations, one gets to learn so many things. Technical expertise kept aside — you'll be dealing with a lot of variables, with a lot of feelings, and with a lot of responsibilities. It is like entering a new life altogether.
You take the first step, like a trailer of how it would be like if you go out for work. You would precisely be stepping out of your comfort zone.
It will be only for a few weeks (in case of an internship) - which is a win-win. Why? If you like it, you settle. If you don't, you get back home after concluding the internship.
Either way you learn a lot.
After telling all of this, I often get the question why I did not choose BLR.
Because at that point of time — when we had to choose between the options, I was thinking narrow.
Sometimes, we cannot judge how valuable an experience could be or what a decision could lead to.
We tend to think in materialistic variables like money, food, accommodation; which of course is important, but not primary — specially when we are at the learning stage.
Apply to get Rejected
Back to square one. Now that we have discussed about the situations, context and circumstances. Let's try to understand and figure this out.
Responsibilities of the job?
Don't worry about the Roles, Responsibilities, Requirements of the job. We learn over time. Companies don't expect a lot even from fresh graduates. (Of course, applying to jobs that are no where related to the domain/skillsets related to yours does not make a lot of sense.)
So, if you think you are a little short on experience or don't know a specific tool/technology; it is completely fine.
Attitude is preferred over skills (in firms that prefer high EQ). It is ideal and should be that way, in my opinion. Skills can be taught, Attitude can't be.
I ended up applying and attempting the programming test for the Deutsche Bank Internship (which came for third years) in my first year and in fact ended up getting shortlisted. (Although, I wasn't allowed to sit for interviews because I was not from the eligible batch. But that is a story for another time.)
I still apply in places I have less or no experience in, I end up applying in the places I am not even eligible for. Why? Well because — Getting the job is the first priority.
Focus on getting the job
The details and other responsibilities can be ironed out later. Apply, get the link for the tests, clear them, sit for the interviews. And then figure out what happens next.
Because till then, we end up learning a LOT!
Applying for internships
Interns are hired for their fresh opinions, the energy that they bring, and the naïveness at looking at a problem. Which is very important.
With experience, we start self rejecting ideas based on the merit in our "thought". There's no rose without a thorn.
However, being an intern/having a rookie mentality gets you to experiment with things — exploring things.
The free nature of this ideology is something a lot of firms leverage. Leads to creation of new ideas. New solutions.
This has been mentioned multiple times: Self rejection is worse than the actual rejection.
And it is quite simple — Regret is difficult to live with than failure.
Applying for opportunities
You'll learn a LOT when you apply anywhere. The application, the cover letter, your résumé, relevant experience, portfolios etc.
Show them why you're an asset to the opportunity. Show them what you bring to the table.
Your relevant experience (even if it's less), mention it!
Write, what you can't in your résumé, in your cover letter.
Always, always write a cover letter. Even if it's optional.
I know for a fact that most of the folks end up writing a generic Cover Letter or not even write because it is optional.
During my time at GDSC, I remember when I opened the forms for the Core Team; I made the Cover Letter answer (Why do you want to join GDSC?) optional. This was intentional and psychological.
Our minds have been trained to avoid optional questions (to save time?). Here, I wanted to see who was enthusiastic and serious enough to fill in that optional question. The ones who did not answer the questions were straight out of the picture.
Always write a (customized) cover letter. Have a generic one ready.
But cut to the chase, don't write long letters. Keep it concise and to the point. Value the reader's time.
- Brief introduction (Name, Academics, Experience in domain, and state the interest.)
- Mention what skills you bring the table: your skillset, mention salient projects and relevant details. This is your proof of work.
- Mention skills that cannot be shown on your résumé: Energy, enthusiasm, attention to detail, caring about the user. Why does the job intrigue you? What makes you stand out?
Skills and attitude are the things that would be relevant for hiring.
Skills can be seen from your experience, résumé, education. But out of the hundereds of applications, your customized letter about your personality needs to be shown.
Give them a chance to know you and your way of looking at things.
Notes from HV Pandya that I resonate with when I write:
- I don’t do extremely extensive research on the notes - a lot of the stuff I write is born out of empirical evidence and day-to-day observations.
- Some of the stuff I write may come across as my raw and unedited thoughts - this is intentional.
- Things I write are my own personal views and there’s bias involved - but since there’s a great dearth of honest personal accounts of people in tech, I hope this serves as a useful one.