Commitment To Excellence: Swadha
Undertaking responsibilities and constantly honing the abilities shapes up the true persona of oneself. Keeping up with our ‘Swadha’ of influential Final Year Interviews, Team Monday Morning is here with the journey of a final year Integrated Master of Science student from the Department of Mathematics whose work ethics and social skills are set as an example for the years to come. Holding myriads of positions of responsibilities such as Placement Secretary of Training and Placement Committee, General Secretary KMS Hall of Residence, NCC C-Certificate Holder, and a prominent member of Synergy (the official dance club), Swadha has interned at a prestigious research centre, including CSIR, Centre for Mathematical Modelling and Simulation and finally has bagged the dream job at Fractal Analytics. A person with captivating charm, she is a down-to-earth and humble person amidst all the achievements.
Team Monday Morning caught up for fun interaction with her and her friends. Join us through the article and witness her remarkable journey throughout college life and beyond.
A SNEAK PEEK INTO LIFE BEFORE NIT ROURKELA
Monday Morning (MM): Shed some light on your life before NIT Rourkela.
Swadha: I was born in Patna, and I have been staying in Ghaziabad since I was three years old. I was a shy student of Delhi Public School. Back then, I used to have boy-cut and fewer friends.
After completing my 7th grade, I went to a boarding school, Birla Balika Vidyapeeth, a part of the BITS Pilani campus. Many things changed there. I became an active part of the National Cadet Corps (NCC). The school was a two-year program under which I participated in the Republic Day 2012 parade at Rajpath, New Delhi. After 10th, I came to Delhi to do my coaching and schooling together at Seth Anandram Jaipuria School. Next, I went to Kota for a year and then joined NIT Rourkela.
MM: How did NIT Rourkela happen to you, and what motivated you to pursue Integrated MSc in Mathematics?
Swadha: Maths, in a way, has been an essential part of my family background. My great-grandfather was a statistician. He graduated from IIT Banaras Hindu University (BHU). My maternal uncle did his Integrated MSc in Mathematics from IIT Kanpur. So I did have a proclivity towards the subject right from the beginning, so I chose it.
I was very well aware of the fact that maths changes a lot when one enters college, and I thought I would be able to cope. I don’t think I am doing so great, and maybe now I realize that it is not my cup of tea (chuckles!).
KEEPING UP WITH THE PACE: LIFE AT NIT ROURKELA
MM: You were awarded the Certificate of Merit for the academic year 2016-17. How was that achieved, and how did you strike a balance between your academics and co-curricular activities?
Swadha: Before joining NIT, I was always a very good student. My mother used to keep me one year ahead in mathematics. I was indeed a very studious person, and even in my boarding school, my first impression came as a person who studies (especially maths) a lot. But when I joined college, I did not want that impression to continue. So in my first year, I joined many clubs; I joined NCC and eventually got a backlog in Basic Electrical Engineering in my first semester. I had some very cool seniors by my side who told me that the first-year summer is a waste, with no internship opportunity or any other exciting thing; I would be bored at home, and hence it would be easier to study one subject in those whole two months. Therefore I did not mind getting an ‘F’ grade in my first semester in Electrical but ultimately passed with an ‘Ex’! That precisely is how my CGPA improved, and I was awarded the Certificate of Merit.
In my first year, managing both academics and co-curricular together was not very difficult for me. Only NCC was a bit troublesome as the first-year students are made to do a lot more drill than the seniors. But after I entered my second year and joined Synergy, things escalated to a vast extent. I was in NCC, I was the third-year hall secretary and in Synergy too.
Very specifically, I remember Independence Day, when I did the flag hoisting, was a part of the institute parade and had to run like that only to receive the certificate. Then I directly headed to SAC for the dance practice.
STEPPING INTO THE CHARMING FIELD OF ‘ELECTIONS’
MM: You were the General Secretary of KMS Hall of Residence. How did you strategize to contest and eventually win the elections? What is your view on the zone concept that persists?
Swadha: Being honest, I was never interested in contesting the elections in the first place. There was another student who I feel was a better candidate for the post, but because she was applying for Deans’ Nominee, she insisted me to apply for the Hall General Secretary. The zone concept came to light during the elections. I was afraid that we might lose other positions because of it. It's definitely very prominent in any elections, but we wanted to keep our batch united, irrespective of the chaos it might create with our seniors. So we chose not to break down.
MM: How did that role of yours shape you as a person?
Swadha: I was never a public speaker. I was more of a shy kind of person. But during the election campaign, I had to interact with many of my juniors whom I didn’t even know. I still remember that students gathered in the common room, and I was told to just talk to them.
In the process, I learned to sell myself. That was an incredible learning experience in itself. I bettered my interaction skills.
MM: Regarding SAC Elections, very few girls apply for positions. What’s your stance on this?
Swadha: I believe female students should apply because only then can we expect the scenario to change. But yes, a preeminent reason behind this staggering gender ratio in SAC is the zone concept. Many influences go on around the male Halls, and because female students are lesser in number, boys certainly have the upper hand. Yet, there is no harm in contesting. There is no point in fearing to lose or get rejected.
THE JACK OF ALL TRADES
MM: What will you always cherish about being an active part of the Synergy club?
Swadha: Synergy has very holistically changed my personality. The sessions were truly beyond just dance. I made some of my best friends there.
It was the only group where irrespective of year of study, everyone was a very good friend of mine. No matter how small or big an event might be like a BBA film or a fest concert, we always tried to be together, and we cherished every small moment of happiness that we got. I am still attached to the club very much.
Apart from that, I was able to overcome my stage fear. Once I was told to perform a solo Kathak at BBA, I had never done a solo performance. Even today, I may be frightened to do that, but back then, I somehow managed to get my confidence together and went almost unprepared for the dance performance. So that way, Synergy has been a massive part of my five years at NIT Rourkela.
MM: You were also a very active NCC Cadet. Tell us about your days at NCC and what did the organization teach you as a whole.
Swadha: NCC, for me, was way beyond just getting a C certificate. I was in Junior Wing as well. As I mentioned, in my schooling days, we had the Pilani Band. To reach Republic Day Camp (RDC), New Delhi, students usually have to cross three levels of selection processes, but we had a comparatively easier path. It took days and nights of drills and band practices.
Clearing the camps, I went for the one-month-long Republic Day for the Republic Day parade at New Delhi. There I had the opportunity to meet many dignitaries, including the Indian Army and Indian Navy chiefs. That was a surreal, magical process in itself because I had never thought of achieving that, and it kind of came to me in a platter.
Therefore, when I came to NIT Rourkela, I decided to continue it, and I have received my C certificate now. You develop many values and virtues when you are a part of NCC. Leadership qualities and physical fitness are two of those.
THE PI ROUND: PLACEMENT & INTERNSHIP
MM: You bagged a research internship at the CSIR Center for Mathematical Modelling and Computer Simulation. Can you brief us about the work you did there? How was your overall experience during your internship?
Swadha: At CSIR, the fourth paradigm is a major research subject. It essentially stands for data science. After getting acquainted with this, I mailed Prof. Dr Krushna Chandra Gouda and luckily received a confirmation call from his side.
Under him, there was me and another girl from IIT Roorkee. He was quite forth-coming to the students. I remember approaching him on the first day and telling him about my lack of clarity over various research fields. Surprisingly, he motivated me and provided different ideas to choose from. We researched climate data and performed neural network analysis on it.
MM: Tell us about your placement journey. What was your initial reaction when you got to know that you are placed at Fractal Analytics?
Swadha: I was interested in software profiles from the beginning. The first company I applied for was SAP labs. I cleared the online test and the first round of interviews but failed the second owing to some core CS questions. In another test for Incture, I cleared the online test and the design round only to know that MSc students would not be allowed to continue. I further got rejected from interviews with Oracle and Radisys Labs.
Analyzing the situation, I changed my attention to companies demanding analytics and started preparing after deliberating with my friends. Here, the next company was Fractal Analytics. I cleared the online test. The first round of interviews consisted of project-related questions, HR questions were part of the second, and the third round comprised case study questions. Luckily, I cleared all of them and hence, landed on an offer.
I had also applied for Goldman Sachs in an off-campus drill. I cleared the preliminary stages, but I didn’t appear for the interview round as I was already placed at Fractal Analytics by then.
LEADING THE TROOP: PLACEMENT COMMITTEE SECRETARY
Swadha recalled the moments of the responsibility she held as part of the Training and Placement Cell (TnP). She crossed all the hurdles to emerge as the Secretary of TnP. She expressed what all factors helped her to get to her position:
My branch mates forced me to apply for the position. I went to Anshuman Bebarta (Batch of 2020, Integrated MSc Mathematics) , the then Placement Secretary, for further clarifications on the role. He explained to me in detail what it means to be in Placecomm and what skills do we acquire being there. I conveyed the same to my branch mates and three more were interested in the role. Eventually, the two of us became a part of the placement committee.
Looking back at her time of being a PC intern, she recollects how hard had it been for her and what did it take to prove her mettle:
I wasn’t used to explaining my presentation. I was holding a position where I was questioned many times while explaining to the coordinators and other authorities. In the beginning, it was quite scary and insightful at the same time. In some tasks, I even had a breakdown. This is when my fellow friends motivated me a lot to come out of it and give my best at it.
MM: Becoming a Placement Secretary at the time of the global pandemic, how was your experience as a PS? What is the placement scenario till now?
Swadha: The situation of lockdown brought difficulties for me as a Placement Secretary. Foremost of which was the fact that as a team, we were oblivion of each other before. I remember the results were declared in April, and in May, we started calling companies. Though I did not meet with my co-secretaries, we used to talk a lot. This helped in gaining confidence as well as motivation to clear the hurdles ahead.
For the Software profile, the loss of a few previous companies got compensated with the new ones. The highest CTC was excellent. Considering the education sector, the loss was in terms of the past recruiters. A major advantage of the online process was the inclusion of some companies who did not visit us earlier owing to travel and preferential issues. Overall, the placement drive was better than expected; we have been approached with 650+ offers and hope to cross 800. The average package till now is decent, around 9-10 LPA.
MM: Training committee was conceptualized to prepare the pre-final year students for the placement season. After a year of running in 2019, it wasn’t functional at all this year. What is the reason behind that and what are the plans regarding it for the future?
Swadha: To begin with, the Training Committee functions separately from the Placement Committee. In the year of its inception i.e. 2019-20, it functioned well. Basically, they conduct Group Discussions(GD), Just A Minute(JAM) sessions, etc. However, this year, the Training Committee wasn’t formed at all, let alone function. Although the formation of the team was being thought, it couldn’t be realised because firstly, the session started late (even we were inducted into the team quite late) and also conducting those training sessions virtually wasn’t feasible. However, whenever students wanted any kind of guidance on a personal level, we were trying to help them to the best of our capacity. Pariksha and GoPrac were two platforms that the institute was encouraging for both final year and pre-final year students.
However, from the next year, the Training Committee is expected to function the way it was functioning previously.
MM: Most of the Integrated MSc students are of the notion that there aren’t many opportunities available for them in terms of placement and that in the end, they have to pursue higher studies. What is your stance on this? What extra mile did you go regarding this?
Swadha: Many Integrated MSc students actually want to pursue higher studies, but even that number has gone down this year owing to the pandemic. Since fewer companies came for MSc students, they had to be less choosy.
I learned applications of Machine Learning from various other sources and video lectures. Although, few topics in maths help in data science. For instance, fuzzy logic; however, the application is complex unless the basics are taught. Institute used to add Database Management System (DBMS) as a part of electives, but it is not anymore.
‘THE SOCIAL BUTTERFLY’
MM: Looking back at your five years in college, are there any regrets or exceptional moments you would always cherish?
Swadha: Having an article published on Monday Morning on me is one of the things I aspired; it is done now, so I am left with no regrets (titters)!
With every friend circle, I had special moments. Be it Synergy practice sessions, parties, or even tapri wali chai parties with my first-year friends, I enjoyed throughout my college life.
MM: Has NIT Rourkela been able to transform you in any way other than an ardent Mathematician? Who in NIT Rourkela has been your biggest inspiration?
Swadha: NIT Rourkela definitely hasn’t made me a mathematician (laughs!). One thing I kept in mind before joining NIT Rourkela, that I won’t be the studious person anymore and participate more in extra-curricular and I am glad that happened.
I admire Bata Krishna Giri (Batch of 2017, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering) while being a cadet of NCC. He had a long history of being a part of the National Defence Academy (NDA) and Indian Military Academy(IMA). Anshuman Bebarta has been an inspiration to me though I was scared of him all the time (chuckles). Sovit Suman Patro (Batch of 2020, Mechanical Engineering) and Kunal Sahu (Batch of 2018, Integrated MSc Physics and Astronomy) were big influencers for me in Synergy.
MM: How has your academic experience been in NIT Rourkela, now that you are about to complete five-years in the institute?
Swadha: Like most of the students, I would study for the last few days before the examinations. I am not a night owl; I complete as much as possible during the daytime, and at night I would only sleep, no matter how much of my syllabus is left incomplete! Academics are acceptable here. I have learned too much from my extra activities, and they have played a major role in my personality development.
MM: Where do you want to see yourself ten years down the line?
Swadha: Being pretty much inclined towards Data Science and Finance, I might be changing my roles through my stay at Fractal Analytics or maybe shift somehow to different specializations. Other than that, I see myself in a stable job, spending a lot on myself (laughs).
Vishal Sharma (Batch of 2020, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering) added:
I am saying this in a very positive light that she (Swadha) is a very active and dynamic individual and I don’t think she would be settled in one or two places in the near future. However, she would be definitely happy with what she would be doing ten years down the line.
It is worth noting that apart from being an extrovert, Swadha shows substantial interest in getting cognizant of mythologies. Understanding bits of science and logic behind religious practices, and sharing them is a quality all her friends will remember.
MM: What would be your message to our readers out there?
Everyone needs to explore their potential. Be it academics, extra-curricular, or even interests in any field. After college, I don’t think we will get such opportunities and free time to explore different fields. In the meantime, ignoring academics is not an option.
On an ending note, Vishal Sharma shares:
I would dedicate a phrase to her-‘The Social Element’. She could smartly socialize like a cake walk. We were a part of her group right from the first year, we had lots of parties, night outs but once we became sophomores, we could hardly find her in our group. We would take an appointment with her when could we chill out with her. Despite pretty huge workloads, she executed her work positively and perfectly. Though I am her friend and I am not supposed to speak nicely of her (chuckles), the way she used to be, she inspired us a lot.
Sovit Suman Patro added:
We have seen Swadha in her highs and lows. The best part is how she has dealt with her lows. She has been a very positive-minded individual and a great multitasker. Wherever she goes she gives her hundred percent. Cheers to Swadha!
Team Monday Morning wishes Swadha the best for all her future endeavours and hopes that she will achieve everything aspires.