Compiled by Sanjay Varma Rudraraju, Computer Science MS Student
Sanjana Kapisthalam is a current graduate student in the Imaging Science department and comes from the southern part of India. Throughout her tenure at RIT she has worked at Xerox Research Center, in France as a Computer Vision Research Intern, and for Amazon in Seattle as a Software Developer Engineer Intern. Sanjana also has a position lined up for summer 2018 with Fluxdata as a Machine Learning Research Engineer.
With her extensive resume it’s clear that Sanjana has interviewing basics mastered. Here, she shares her advice for other students:
“Most of my interviews were completely based on two of my courses (Image processing and Computer Vision, Deep-Learning for Vision). I used to get calls from pretty much every company I applied but used to get rejects after the first round. I realized I lacked preparation and made notes from these two courses and I used to revise them before every interview. This helped me to crack the technical rounds very easily. Most interviews, I crossed the third round and then got rejected. That made me realize I wasn’t strong enough with my skills to crack the coding rounds. So I started taking online free coding lessons and solved interview questions which helped me a lot.”
Upon being asked to share some of her experiences while doing her co-ops “Every internship of mine was very different. My first internship with Xerox was completely research oriented. I was reproducing the then state-of-the-art methods for which I had to read tons and tons of research papers. This not only helped me develop my thought process but improved my reading and writing skill from like scale 0 to scale 10. Apart from the work, this was in a tiny city called Grenoble in France. I got to polish my broken high school French and got to experience an international culture that could be never forgotten. My current internship with Amazon is very different from what I did before. I am a software developer here and I write code every day which is reviewed by my mentor and a senior member in my team. I have a 1:1 meet with my manager every week and this system is not only improving my coding skills drastically but also pushing me to be one step ahead and learn to work in a big company. Also, Seattle is amazingly beautiful. My next internship over the summer will be with Fluxdata in Rochester as a Machine learning Engineer. I am hoping to learn from my mistakes in the past and current internships and do even better.”
When asked to give some suggestions to student who are on the job hunt, Sanjana said “Use all sorts of online portals LinkedIn, Angellist, Indeed.com. Make use of the career fair. To be very honest, this was the first time I got an offer through the fair but I never gave up. I used to see people getting calls from the fair so I kept trying until I got one.” She went on to give suggestions about preparing for interviews and said “ Apply to any company, if the posting sounds intriguing and if you think you will able to do the job. My suggestion from all my experiences will be DO NOT underestimate yourself based on the requirements of the posting. Apply, prepare based on the posting and be ready to speak if that is not your area of education. You will crack the interview if you are confident about yourself.”
Here is a breakdown from my experiences –
1) Build your resume: When I say this, it’s purely for those grad students who come here immediately after undergrad and have no industry experience. First step is to realize what sort of a job you want. It’s fine if you don’t know this. Try applying to various jobs and you will realize at some point what you want. There are on-campus jobs for every interest of a person. From Cafeteria jobs to being a research assistant, there’s everything. Use the student employment website and apply to the jobs you’re interested and those you can show on your resume. Don’t step down if you keep getting rejected. Participate in the competitions conducted at symposiums on-campus, work towards winning them. Participate in Imaging RIT. In-short, do things that will not only build your resume but also keep you occupied.
2) Apply – If you apply to 5 companies and you don’t get calls at all, it’s high-time you check your resume or get it corrected from a professional. Go to your career advisor or grad-coordinator (every department has one) and seek help. Unless you ask, nobody knows what you want. Don’t self assume things. SEEK HELP if you need it and there’s nothing wrong or to be ashamed about.
3) Interview call: Like I said, sometimes you could be interested in some jobs even if it doesn’t fall under your educational background. I would say it’s absolutely fine. Just be prepared to answer questions. If you don’t have what it takes for the job, tell the recruiter why you think you’re a good fit and why you applied. My second internship was out of my interest. I am not a software developer by degree, I was interested, I applied and showed the ability to what it takes to be one. Just be prepared. It’s ok to be rejected multiple times. It’s just not ok to analyze yourself as to why you’re being rejected. You already succeeded if you got a call which itself means you’re worth a person for that role. So analyze your mistakes from your rejections and keep moving ahead.
4) Build-up your resilience, confidence levels and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Just make sure to learn out of them. RIT is a great place guys. You ask for anything and you will get help from somewhere. Make use of the resources. If you think you’re an introvert or shy make sure to have a support system outside your family (i.e., FRIENDS). Be involved in sports, music, toastmasters or whatever you like. Realize what it is that you want by taking chances. “