Pranjal Gupta - Deutsche Bank

Hi there! I am Pranjal Gupta, a to-be-fourthie in the Aerospace Engineering department, and this is my internship journey. I just finished my summer internship at Deutsche Bank’s Investment Banking division. Before I talk more about my intern experience, let me first walk you through how I bagged this intern and some things you can keep in mind if the intern season is already stressing you out.

The intern season begins!

I entered the internship season with this basic clarity; I wanted a corporate intern experience in my 3rd year and didn’t want to do software development/ML. That left me with finance, consulting and analytics (supply chain roles do not open for Aero), and based on my skill sets and previous experiences, my top priority was finance. I highly recommend engaging in some self-speculation and reaching a similar clarity on how you want to approach the intern season. Trust me, this will save you a lot of time and mental peace when the IAFs start opening, and all hell breaks loose (I’m exaggerating, don’t worry :p). Since I wanted a professional corporate culture, I was targeting firms with a proper internship structure in place, so interns don’t feel lost at any point during their internship. An added bonus is that most of these firms want to convert their internships into full-time offers. So my focus was on well-established firms, which is all of Day 1 firms and most of week 1 firms (note that there were some fantastic IAFs later in the season too, so don’t get demotivated if you don’t get an intern in the first month or so).

My target companies then became prop trading firms, namely Optiver, Jane Street and investment banks like Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Barclays etc. Other banks like Goldman Sachs and Citi Bank offer internships but for non-finance profiles like software or analytics. Based on the preparation recommended for consult and finance roles by seniors, I decided to start with case prep first since that was something entirely new for me, and one can only get good by practising cases. Case prep can also help you in some non-consult interviews where guesstimates are asked, but they can be more quantitative in nature, so it's best to check this with seniors who have interviewed with that firm before. Parallelly, I was working on my resume, sending it for review to seniors and incorporating their suggestions. I highly recommend spending sufficient time on your resume, showcasing your peaks and impacts of your projects. A good resume is not only crucial for making the interview shortlists but can also influence how your interviews will proceed. If the interviewer has enough curiosity from your resume, they will spend most of the time discussing details of your projects and positions, which you have complete control over. Pro-tip, while sending your resumes to seniors, ask them to note down what all questions come to their mind while going through your resume, and then prepare answers to those questions. This will help you get an idea of some fundamental questions that can be asked from your projects, something you can miss out on when you are focused too much on the minute details of your project. For prop trading firms, I regularly practised mental math problems from and other websites to prepare for the first few rounds of tests. This practice helped me reach the group discussion round for Optiver (for the quant trading profile), which was a market-making game played between 9-10 people. This was hands down the most exciting interview I have ever given.

So, after signing my target IAFs and all these tests, I was waiting for interview shortlists. As it turned out, I just got one consult shortlist on Day 1, and that’s it. I had expected this, but I was also hoping to see my name on a few more shortlists. This made me panic, and I made the biggest mistake of my intern season. Because I had a strong enough profile for software dev/ML roles, I was confident that if I could clear the coding tests of the tech firms, I would have a good chance of getting in. So I started practising DSA and revising my ML concepts all because I wanted a “backup” intern in case I didn’t get into my target firms. Please do NOT settle as I did. There should be no “backup” in the intern season. Look at the big picture for a moment; an internship is supposed to act as a bridge between the professional world and the undergrad world of assignments, quizzes and endsems. Whether in the corporate or a research arena, an intern just gives you a flavour of how the real world functions. When you settle for a “backup” intern, you lose out on an amazing opportunity to check whether you actually enjoy the work you thought you would in a real-world setting. So if you know you want something (or don’t want to do something), please do not settle for a ‘backup’ like I tried to. You might not get placed on the first day, the first week, or the first month, but that’s completely alright. Believe me, sabki intern lag jaati hai. If not through PT Cell, there are many opportunities through apping. I know people who have bagged amazing interns through apping in industries and universities that match their interests. Okay, let me end my pravachan now :p.

So, I was all prepared for my single interview on Day 1. I practised some more cases with my buddy, parallelly practising puzzles and working on HR questions. Cut to interview day, I was fairly confident with my case prep to at least clear initial rounds, usually when guesstimates are asked. For reasons which will require another blog, I somehow managed to bomb my interview. I knew I was done right after my first round on Day 1.1 (Day 1 was spread across three days), knowing well enough that I did not have any more interviews in the coming few days. I chilled the rest of the day, took a break from all the continuous prep and mentally prepared myself to focus on the remaining firms in my target. At around 11 PM, I casually opened the intern blog to check a friend’s shortlist, and I saw that DB had just released an extended shortlist with my name in it! More than happiness, I felt the guilt of wasting the entire day sobbing over my spoilt interview, time which I could have used to prepare for this interview (had I known I had a chance of getting shortlisted). Keeping all thoughts aside, I started preparing for my interview scheduled for the next morning, with just 10 hours remaining.

For Deutsche Bank, the recruitment process is pretty straightforward. There is a resume-based shortlisting followed by 2-3 rounds of interviews. The resume shortlisting criteria are pretty similar to consults - peaks in your profile like a high CPI, a major 3rd-year PoR, a professional experience, awards/scholarships, etc., can make the cut. For finance firms, relevant background in finance through courses or projects can also work out, but make sure you are extremely thorough with any finance concepts mentioned on the resume. Randomly mentioning stuff you are not confident about in your resume will be seen as a negative point. This being said, a background in finance is NOT a prerequisite to getting selected. All firms are aware that this is a technical institute; hence it is not expected from any candidate to have any finance background beforehand. Coming to my interviews, I had three rounds of interviews, each being 45 mins - 1 hour in length with <5 minutes of break between successive interviews. So yes, interview day is pretty intense, and it’s best if you go in with that mindset. My first and second rounds were focused on my resume plus a guesstimate, with some HR questions here and there. The third round was some more HR questions and a basic puzzle. My only advice here is just to be very, very thorough with your resume and confident about the choices you made in your Insti life (for eg, if you have done multiple research projects in your core field and are now sitting for non-core interviews, a simple question that can be asked is why you want to pursue that field when you clearly show interest in your core field with relevant experience to back it up, and, whether you have plans to go for higher studies, etc.).

My offline intern experience


I was pretty excited for an offline internship, especially after going through some of the older summer blogs by seniors describing their offline experiences. For the first week, DB had set us up at The Leela hotel, where we attended the induction sessions. These sessions are intensive, with almost 8-9 hours of training every day for four days. The training was virtual this year, and at first, we were pretty excited to do the training right from our hotel rooms, but even a 5-star restaurant feels like a mess when you’re eating all three meals for seven days straight XD. All interns were recruited by the Deutsche Bank CIB Center Pvt. Ltd, or DB Center, located in Goregoan, where all grads from IITs and IIMs are initially recruited. DB’s investment bank is split into two divisions - Origination & Advisory (O&A) and Fixed Income and Currencies (FIC). O&A fits the cultural stereotype of an ‘investment banker’ where you work long hours on live deals with clients and provide the bank’s financial services. All IIT interns are placed in the FIC division, where life is comparatively chiller than in the O&A division. As the name suggests, the FIC division deals with trading fixed income products (look this up!) and foreign exchange (currencies). The entire business is divided into two parts based on whether the bank deals in developed or developing economies (termed emerging markets or EM). This is done because the (trading) volumes and client base are significantly different in these economies, so it has to be dealt with separately within the bank. My project was aligned with the Global EM desk, within which different businesses deal with clients in emerging economies.

As I reach the end of my (huge-ass) intern journey, I just want to leave you with one thought. Amidst all the uncertainties and ups and downs of the intern season, focus on the bigger picture from time to time to calm yourselves and clear your mind. Getting a “good” intern is not a portal into the most successful career possible, it's just an opportunity for you to be more clear about your career choices and make a better decision when the time comes.