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An Internship At Flipkart Turned Out To Be A Stepping Stone For My Career

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It was 9:30 AM and the calendar read May 21. I had just stepped into Flipkart’s office at Mantri Commercial, Bangalore.

I was familiar with the pleasant weather and insane traffic of Bangalore as I had interned in the city in the past. Confused about which building to enter among the two, I decided to call the HR person who was assigned to me. She guided me to the right place – 3rd floor, Tower B – and asked me to wait over there. After half an hour, I saw other students entering. I enjoy having conversations with new people and so I went ahead to speak with them. I got to know that they were my co-interns from various top colleges of the country.

Soon, the HR contact arrived and after completing some formalities, we entered the office. The first thing I noticed was the meeting rooms and how they were named based on various TV series like “House of Cards”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, etc. Around 10, another HR person came over to brief us about the internship. To make the co-interns familiar with each other and know about the office, a short interactive session was conducted. We were supposed to do some fun activities to complete the task.

It was a really fun and great opportunity to gel and interact with fellow interns, including those of the opposite sex. We were then assigned separate groups and locations, where we were supposed to report the next day. I was officially assigned to the catalog management group, but I also worked closely with the data science team. We were then asked to collect our laptops from the IT department – and I was elated to receive a MacBook Pro!

I got this opportunity through my professor’s recommendation. Amod Malliya, the Flipkart CTO, had visited IIT Kanpur for an entrepreneurship task. My professor was hosting him during his visit, and that’s when he referred me. Following that, I was asked to fill an application with the details of my research experience and an updated CV. My resume was shortlisted, and then I had to give three telephonic interviews – the first one was an interview on coding involving data structure and algorithms, the second revolved around puzzles and discussions on past projects, and the last one was a discussion on the possible problems I could solve during the internship at Flipkart.

Some of the questions asked in the interview were:

– Write a pseudo code of Random Forest Algorithm of machine learning without using any library.
– Write evaluation metrics for the K-means clustering algorithm.
– Explain the differences in the objective of density-based clustering and other clustering algorithms.
– Code an efficient algorithm to detect duplicate entries in an array.
– Some more questions on binary trees and linked lists.

I performed well in the interviews, and two weeks later, I received an offer letter with the possible joining-date options. And here I was with a MacBook Pro, looking forward to my second day of the internship!

I met my mentor, Pradhuman Jhala – and interacting with him turned out to be one of the highlights of my internship. He frequently used to take me out for tea or coffee, and I learned quite a lot of things from him. I set up my system and email address and started working. He then asked me to send a project proposal. It was surprising that I was given an opportunity to choose my own project! I consulted Prof. Harish Karnick, IIT Kanpur, and settled over a potential project after taking references from around 4-5 papers. I decided to work on the problem of product classification in the e-commerce setup. I drafted the proposal, and it was appreciated.

I started the project with data collection. Multiple tasks in e-commerce (e.g. search) require the tagging of the textual description of a product with the path labels from a static hierarchical taxonomy. Such categorisation is challenging because most categories have a sparse and non-uniform number of products. It also requires a good representation of product descriptions and an efficient algorithm for classification.

To handle these challenges, I developed:
1. A novel document representation technique.
2. An ensemble of multiple classifiers predicting path labels, node-wise labels and depth-wise labels.

I got immense support from colleagues at Flipkart and made some life-long friends. My progress was decent, and I made sure that I could finish the work before the deadline.

Another great aspect of my internship was the open work culture and the freedom that was given to interns. It wasn’t all work and no play – the team head took all the members for football games every Friday. Not only did it help us in staying fit, it was a great team-bonding activity too! Flipkart also organized a day-long hackathon during my internship, and I invited few of my batchmates for participating in it.

We implemented two hacks and received appreciation from other teams too! Owing to my suggestion, an outing for the whole team was also organized – ‘Ab har wish hogi puri’ is not just a slogan after all! I also went to Karunya University with a Flipkart employee to host a workshop. This was my first workshop for an audience of over a 100! It was a great learning experience.

Soon, the internship came to an end and the ‘demo-day’ approached. My final presentation in front of top leaders of the company was successful, and my work was appreciated. I was given a chance to continue my work off-campus, and I also won the poster competition for my work! My work was later published in the 26th International Conference on Computational Linguistics (COLING). Our framework was finally integrated into production at Flipkart and was even covered by the media.

The time for departure had come, and I was sad that I had to leave some brilliant people behind. The most satisfying thing about this Flipkart summer internship was the fact that I was fully involved in the company’s operations and wasn’t treated differently for being an intern. Though this meant longer working hours at times, the learning experience I earned owing to this was invaluable.

I picked up a lot of things in a relatively short time and gained valuable insights into not only my own sector but various other sectors too. I did this internship in the fourth year of college and the exposure that I got motivated me to do research in machine learning and natural language processing. It was a stepping stone in my research career – and currently, I’m working as a research fellow at Microsoft Research Lab, India. Thank you, Flipkart, for all the wonderful memories and opportunities!

About the Author: Vivek Gupta graduated from IIT Kanpur and did his summer internship at Flipkart. He shares insightful details about the selection procedure and how the enriching experience helped him in his career.

India’s leading internship and training platform, Internshala has launched the Online Summer Internship Fair (OSIF) 2018 in association with Youth Ki Awaaz as the Youth Outreach Partner. Find exciting internships with brands like Zomato, OYO Rooms, General Motors, Burger King, Reliance Entertainment, Max Healthcare, Mahindra Agri, UrbanClap, WWF, and Chumbak.

You can enrol here to be a part of Internshala’s Online Summer Internship Fair 2018.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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