Internship at Cisco: How I painted my career with different shades of analytics

About the author: Nandani Madhukar from VIT University shares with us her journey at Cisco IT. She talks about the detailed selection process and the different shades of analytics she learned.

My journey from college to the professional world couldn’t have started on a better note. The first step into my career started with a six-month internship at Cisco in a new city with new people. Cisco visited our campus in July 2015. After an exciting pre-placement talk, more than 700 people applied for the company, out of which only 16 were selected. The selection procedure consisted of a written test, 3 technical interviews, and 2 HR interviews. I fared well in all the rounds. After a grilling process of 12 hrs., the results were announced, and I was offered an internship along with a full-time employment at Cisco IT.

Round 1(1 hr.): The written test consisted of 20 MCQs from aptitude and 30 MCQs from technical subjects (C, C++ based output questions, data structures, OS concepts etc.).

Round 2(20 min.): 82 candidates were shortlisted for this round which was basically to check which student was best suited for which profile. During my interview, I was asked technical questions like DBMS, data structures, networking, C++ programming, etc. He also asked me about my area of interest and about the projects mentioned in my resume. Some of the questions were:

1. There are two tables T1 (ID, name, sex, age) and T2 (ID, location, phone, address). Write a query to display the name and the address where the location is Vellore and the age is greater than 40. If T1 is further split into tables such that T3 contains male employees and T4 contains female employees, then which table will be better if you want to write the above query? Can T2 be normalized any further?
2. There are two infinite loops, for and while. How do you stop the execution of such loops? Which loop is better?
3. Which sorting algorithm works best in all situations? Which algorithm will work worse when the array is already sorted? And why? What is the run time of selection sort?
4. How many layers are there in TCP/IP? List out the differences from OSI model. Mention the specifications of each layer.
5. How does an email travel through all the layers to reach the destination?

Round 3 (15 min): This round began with questions about my summer internship and then I was given two coding questions: “How do you find a missing element in an array? What will be the best case run-time for this algorithm – 1, 2, 3,  5, 6, 7,… ?”, and “Write a recursive function for xn.”

Round 4 (15 min):  In this round, I was asked about the technologies that I had used for application development, the different process models of software engineering, the difference between agile and RAD, and about my interest in application development.

Round 5 (20 min): This was the HR round; it began with basic questions about me and my family. The interviewer asked me about my strengths and weaknesses, my uniqueness, my extra-curricular activities, and where I saw myself five years down the line.

Round 6 (10 min): This was the final round where the HR asked me about my accomplishments, my goals, and my expectations from Cisco.

I joined in January 2016 as an IT intern in Enterprise Data Services team. In the 1st week, several team-building activities were conducted to break the ice between the team members. We played games, danced, ate free food, and received goodies. Furthermore, we were given a campus tour; we were amazed by the facilities Cisco had for its employees. Gaming consoles, massage chairs, basketball, badminton court, box office, they had it all. Every floor had a breakout area where we could relax and take a break from work. I was assigned a project on data analytics with a team of 4 people. My project focused on analyzing the Cisco WebEx usage data and performing predictive analysis on it. I implemented the concepts of data mining which I had learned in college. There are enterprise and personal customers who subscribe to the on-demand collaboration services offered by WebEx like online meeting center, training center, support center, events center, etc. The subscriptions result in a huge data flow into Cisco. Churn analysis determines the possible customers who might unsubscribe to WebEx services which helped us in customer retention. Also, we could connect customer satisfaction information with other data to better understand customer needs and improve their loyalty. Data from the servers was extracted using Hive query editor and the results were stored on the local system. Descriptive analysis gave us the important attributes and visualization patterns present in that data. After that, we built four classification models based on data mining algorithms to test which one worked best and had the least no. of errors. No model is perfect in data science prediction. Hence, each model gave some error percentage in the result. The best model was chosen for further analysis and work. The models were built on the local system and later executed on Hadoop servers using enterprise R.

My project was well received in college. I learned several technologies which are currently used in the analytics industry such as R, Hadoop, SAP HANA, SAP Lumira, etc. I also learned building data model using R language. My manager conducted a one-on-one meeting with me, every two weeks, where he asked me about my progress and the difficulties I was facing. Not everything in Cisco was about work; we went to several team outings. My entire team went out to Club Cabana resort to relax and have fun. At the end of the internship, Cisco IT’s annual function – Galata, was organized. It was a day full of entertainment, good food, and gifts. I performed Kathak on stage for the first time in my life! I won a lucky draw too!

Do you also want to paint your career with different shades of analytics? Check out these vibrant analytic internships.

Editor’s note – If you also have an interesting story to share, you can now participate in Your Internship Story Contest 2017 and win cash prizes and goodies worth INR 1 Lac!

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