a night before
It was 29th January 2014 and my second day in Glasgow, UK. Today was an important day because the interview (for an internship) was the whole solely purpose I travelled thousands of miles and spent resources. I didn’t wake up very early that day like what most of the people do because I was not used to for that. I received an official email from the company that my interview will take place in London not in Glasgow (London is two and a half hours by air).
I was shocked but later a correction came that it will place in Glasgow only.
I remember that before going to sleep I was trying to have a look at some basic interview questions but I was not getting any of them because they all seemed cooked up. I asked myself I never crammed, and never means never, so I just went to sleep.
As I remember, I woke up at around 6:30 AM and my interview was scheduled at 8:30 AM in a rented office building Regus near the city center just a few kilometres from my hotel, The Georgian House Hotel.
I took a bathe and prayed. I got my formal suit ready.
I didn’t find a comb to set my hairs so I just used my hands to do that. I don’t remember if I had some breakfast upstairs or just made use of some coffee available in my room. So I got ready and now I had to see how could I reach the interview location. My negative thinking- Just one wrong bus and it’s all done. I used Google Maps and wrote down where to take the bus, timings, and where to get deboard. I didn’t talk to my family or friends before leaving from the hotel because I wanted the things to go natural and may be I was trying not to be emotional or nervous. So, at 7:30 I left the hotel taking my documents folder with me. The documents folder (yes, they didn’t asked for it but I carried all documents from high school till college, may be to impress them or to show how prepared I was. Kidding.) It was cold outside but I didn’t feel much due to the interview anxiety. The bus stand was just adjacent to the hotel, I waited for a few minutes and the bus arrived. It started raining. I took the bus and deboarded at Buchanan Street (the street where the office was located).
finding the office location?
Now my task was to find the office location. For me, if not difficult then it was at least challenging for me to do that. Why? because I was not having a smartphone, it was raining, a lot of buildings looked same and I had limited time. To be honest, I think I didn’t used the Google Maps very well. So I started by going left to the street, walked a bit and tried to find that office building. I didn’t find it, asked a few people about Regus office building, but they were helpless. So I continued to the right of the street, I wasted about 15 minutes and now it was around 8:00AM. I didn’t wanted to go there with the style what I was doing in my schools and even in my college. (My school timings were 8:00AM, so if you come after 8 you will be counted as a late comer. So whenever I used to get late sometimes, I used to come after 8:30 and didn’t get late because by that time, all the late coming checks had already been finished.) But today it was not a school, I kept on going and looking for the name sign on the buildings. No success, and I got worried about my dress, it was raining and afraid that it might get dirty. But thanks to good cleanliness of the city, It worked well. Now it was around 8:10AM and I was still not able to find the office. So I decided to go back where I started looking in the beginning, after giving it a try, I was in the same position, being in the rain with a failure to unable to find the office with an anxiety of the interview. I asked a few people again about but not good response.
I decided to go right again, that this time I was lucky to see some small text ‘Regus’ on a building. (C’mon J.P. Morgan company, being the top financial institution in the world, most powerful bank in America by assets, king of gold stocks couldn’t you use a bigger font or may be had your own company office instead of leasing some office space. These giant companies have the power to buy almost anything, but not a small space of their own. Just a joke though. They might be trying to save some resources which I appreciate.)
I entered the building and on the ground floor, there was no-one at the front desk. There was a sign “All Visitors, please report to 2nd floor reception.
I took the elevator and adjusted my clothes and hair a bit. (we use ‘lift’ word for elevators in India commonly). So I went to the the second floor, and then I was able to see some human beings there.
I asked one of the lady “Morning! I am here for an interview with J.P. Morgan company. She said with a good smile, please proceed to the third floor. I did the same and then there I was made sit in the big room with a round table.
There was I think one more student in the room, I tried to talk to him and It went fine. He was from a local university but he got shocked to know that I came all the way from India just for this interview. He looked professional with good communication skills. I find myself adjusting to the environment easier the more I was communicating around. I took a glass of water and soon we were joined by approximately 4 more other students who were for an interview also. One of them was very talkative and funny so I was having a good time with him. I could see the conference room turning into a classroom! He looked different from rest of the student and I was trying to figure it out why? May be because he was pure Scottish and the others were purely English/British. Anyway, we were interrupted by the interview co-ordinator who was a handsome male and he instructed us to be ready for the first round of interview. We were going to have 4 rounds in total with 45 minutes of each. First one, Technical written. Second one, Technical conversational based. Third one, Competency based. Fourth one, Group based. Even though I was not able to understand a lot of things from the interview co-ordinator due to his Scottish accent. British accent is fine to me but Scottish one is bit a difficult to understand if you have been exposed to American and British accents only before for your whole life.
interview first round
Now we start with the first round- Technical based written for 45 minutes. We were made sit in the same conference room, one by one leaving some spaces between us. We were handed the question paper, and stationery- a pencil and some blank A4 sheets. We had to write the answers on the space provided on the question paper only. There were two long questions. (I don’t have a habit to read all the questions before proceeding. I think that makes me more nervous. So I just pick one question, write the answer and then proceed to the next one). I don’t exactly remember the questions. I remember a bit about a question. It was something like there is a game machine in the market, people will come to play, and you have to write a pseudo code or use any language or write logic to present the probability of winning and losing. It was a question on money making. Money and banks they have one thing in common, Money and Money. I didn’t knew where to start. So I tried my senior school approach for programming. I knew a bit C/C++ language on a basic level- declaring variables, using loops, structures, classes, but not pointers, linked links, stacks, queues because they were too much complicated. I took it something like this “okay, people are coming, people means records and we need to input these records and save them in the memory.” Alright, instead of pseudo code I was writing the exact C/C++ code on the paper. The only problem was it was having very less space, so I had to squeeze my hand writing. I declared the header files (stdio.h, and conio.h for now), got into the main() function , declared a few array variables and ran a loop for to input & store the people’s information who were coming to play the game. I don’t know it was the right approach to do that or not but since I was confident at this at that time, I felt comfortable doing that. After that, here it came the role of probability, permutation and combinations which I always sucked at. So, I didn’t go very specific in these things and what I did was tried very simple things based on my own assumptions. For example: took a score and If the score of a person fall below that score, he is losing of course. I compared the scores variables using if else conditions. Now the time was to close the main() function with getch() function. I did the same. Now I was running out of space on the paper but I finally managed to write the whole code while doing some extra work on the separate sheet. The next question was also a long one and funny thing about this was that I really didn’t knew how to even touch that. I think that was the most difficult question I had ever faced in my life due to the fact that I was totally based on Senior School Mathematics. So If you going for an interview with the bankers, be prepared to do some maths specially permutation, combination and probability. So I just left and enjoyed the rest of time. Now, the time got over and the co-ordinator interrupted to submit all the papers. We were asked to sit there only unless there comes some more instructions.
interview second round
Now here comes the second round. The interview co-ordinator comes again and calls out the name for the next interview round. They were pairing up every interviewee with an interviewer specialized in their respective field. So I was sent to a different room and there when I open the door I see a fat interviewer or an employee welcoming me. He asked me for a glass or water which I didn’t refuse. He was nice and made me feel comfortable. In a short time, he went to the paper paper straight. (That time, I was not trying to act like a normal interviewee like asking pre-defined questions. I know it works, but I was ready to take the risk). So I was calm, and confident. He took my paper and asked me to explain what I did and what was the logic behind my code. I explained him but I don’t think he was getting it correctly. I said “okay. Can I have a paper?”. He gave me one and I split my code on a very basic level. Still he was a bit confused. He asked me why did I left one questions totally blank. I said “I didn’t knew where to start and I put my efforts in the question which I knew”. Now he puts the paper aside and talks on general matter. For example: he tells me how much vacancies they have in total in the technical intern section. As I remember they had like 15 for developers, administrators, Big data kind of. So, I decided to choose the one which had the maximum number of vacancies due to the fact that It would be having less competition and I was also comfortable in that. Then he asked me what was the most critical challenge I faced in technical world. Most of the students here, they will give examples of code they usually stuck in, or integration with different API and all that stuff. I was very truthful and said “sir, I didn’t came across a challenging technical problem”. The fact is that I came across a lot of things which I was not able to solve, code, made logic but It was a long list and I didn’t had something quick in my mind to answer. Also, the important thing is that I never tried to solve them at the very best level. After this, I started telling him about my volunteer experience that I tried to create a software to minimize electricity consumption on computers. He asked me “how?” I tried to explain him but I think he was confused with that too. I asked him a few questions which I don’t remember now. Now, 45 minutes were elapsed. We shook hands and I thanked him and proceeded towards the conference room again.
interview third round
Competency based interview time. After all the things happened, most of them were pointing to the negative direction but I was still confident due to the fact that I was original in my form, and I was speaking truth. The coordinator came and called the name for the next round. I knew it was competency interview but I didn’t had idea what they will be asking. I was like confident, I will answer them what I know honestly and let everything pass what I don’t know. So I went to small room which was just adjacent to the conference room. There was a women dressed professionally (c’mon everyone in the banking world dresses professionally.) She took the command and welcomes me. We shook hands and she made me sit on the big royal kind of chair facing towards her. There was a wall clock just in front of my eyes, a big one). She came directly to the point something like “okay, I will be asking to the questions and you have to reply them”. I said okay. I don’t remember all the questions because it was like she was having a bunch of sheet having no less then 25 questions. Some questions I remember were:
- What would you like to do at JP Morgan?
- My answer: I would like to work on the data mining project which I described in my application helping in forecasting sales, stock predictions and helping in what happened during the recession etc. JP Morgan has the world’s leading customized processors computing system which was recently developed and I would like to use that for it. (She was amused by my answer because I think she was expecting something like ready made answer or if not, then something like pointing a departmental role or as suggested by the manager, may be).
- You work in department X and you happen to meet someone from department Y. How do you think what kind of conversation you will have with them?
- My answer: I like to interact with the people. I will be wishing them when I meet. I will have a formal conversation with them.
- You work in department X and you got promoted to Y. How you will have conversation with the same people (your ex-colleagues) and what type of?
- My answer: I will be talking to them depending upon my level of interest and situation. I will wish them of course. I won’t be sharing any details of my department unless it is needed to.
- If you happen to receive a support call from another department, will you focus on your work first or will you solve another department’s problem first?
- My answer: In this case I will do two things. I will see which process needs more priority, if the process in my department needs a higher priority I will do that first. If the other needs higher priority I will do that first. If I am not able to decide, I will talk to my co-ordinator or my manager.
During the whole time, she didn’t smile, she was serious. May be she was like that only. This thing made me a bit uncomfortable. Also, she was not as soft in talking like the previous interviewee and kept on asking questions one by one without taking a single minute break. There were some questions which I had to skip I don’t remember them because I think I didn’t knew the answers or I have already covered them somewhere in my previous answers. (That’s life meeting new people and experiencing something new). In anxiety and nervousness, (are these two words same? ), I was looking at the wall clock just in front of me and that I think was not good. After all the questions got over she asked me if there is something I wanted to ask. I said calmly, being nervous and with a bit smile “no! I am good, you asked me a lot of questions, I don’t have anything to ask”. She was like “now your this interview round has been over and you can proceed further.) We shook hands and I went back to the conference room again. The others asked me “how was it”. I don’t remember what I said.
I had never heard about JP Morgan until I applied there for an internship. I told the same to that interviewer as I don’t want to go someone’s company without letting them know how and when I found them. Now, imagine how someone feel if you go to their company and say I had never heard about your company before 😀
interview fourth round
As usual, after a couple of minutes, the co-ordinator came and he asked us to be calm as this round will be group/team round where we will be solving the problems in a team and the accessor committee will join us and watch us as we solve the problem in this room. He distributed the conversation paper, question paper to us, with an answer sheet this time. We were having seats with our names this time. So, what was the conversation paper? There were say 5 paper sheets having conversations between the IT department of JP Morgan of various levels. It was an email conversation between the manager, associates, executives regarding the decision making process of whether to implement Cloud computing or whether to implement virtualization in the JP Morgan premises for official purpose or not. So just after 10 minutes we were given these papers, we were silently joined by the core interviewee committee having around 6 people from junior to seniors. We had to write the solution on the answer sheet provided and then reach to the conclusion by discussing within the team. So, we all were a team. I had a very small idea of these technologies but the questions asked on the paper were challenging so I left them for a while. The discussion started and my team started exchanging views. I was silent in the beginning because all the members they were like experts and I felt like nothing in front of them. I wanted to speak so I waiting for them to finish. Some guys finished with the discussion on ‘fear to migrate to cloud instead of virtualization’ but most were comfortable with the selection of cloud computing. I jumped in the conversation after they finished by saying “I would say that just because the BMW 7 series latest model is very new in the market, we can’t trust it. No, we can trust it because it’s from a renowned maker. Now, cloud computing is a very new concept at least to the banking world so I think we can move along this new technology.” Now all the eyes in the room were on me, all the assessors were looking at me. I finished my statement. Then the rest of the team talks about the migration of data from the virtualized servers to the cloud. I jumped by saying “We can take the statistics from the other departments regarding the usage of banking services according to the timings, the time at which the service usage will be lowest, we can initiate the data migration process from the virtualization servers to the new cloud server so as to minimize the performance degradation risk. Now, after that the assessor asked the final decision from our team and we all agreed for the cloud computing decision and then they left. In just 5 minutes, we had to submit the answer paper to the coordinator but it was still blank. I was thinking what to write and got nothing in my mind. In the meantime, my eyes un-intentionally got on my neighbor’s paper, and I accidently read a few words from it. I didn’t want to write those words because I had never cheated in exams or before. As the time was passing by, I had to write something but except those words nothing was coming in my mind. I decided to modify those words and write something similar to it. I did the same and handed the copy over. The coordinator made an announcement that the results will be out by email in a week. All the students (all were males) they left the room, I took my documents folder and left with them. We had a chit chat while coming to the ground floor but not much. I knew it might be the last time we all were meeting together, who knows who will be where tomorrow, so I asked them If they would like to join me for a coffee near by but they calmly denied. But I didn’t mind. One gave me a company till the sub way station. I don’t remember anyone’s name which is a shame.
So now after spending 4 x 45 minutes= 180 minutes in the interview process, I was finished with my official aim of being in the UK. Doesn’t matter how everything gone, I was happy and confident. I took the Buchanan Street Subway and headed towards Hill Head station ( the closest station to my hotel). I asked an old man for this. This was the first time I ever an automatic ticket vending machine. During my way, I happen to meet a beautiful UK-ish girl (I used UK, because I am not sure whether she was Irish, Scottish, British/English! I am not a racist, just trying to know the world. haha) and a very kind old man. He was thinking that we (me and the girl ) were together and as I remember he was appreciating us. She was a medical student and I told her about the ragging, the medical students have to deal with in my country. I deboarded on the Hill Head station, she took her path and I went towards my hotel.
I wanted to talk to her afterwards but I was shy how to do that, so I just let the things go naturally. I happen to see a Subway (restaurant) in between and went there. This was the first time I went to a subway in my life. The man at the counter asked a lot of questions “Sir, what, which type of bread, salad, crisps you want and bla bla!”. That was okay. After eating the result what they made, I had to throw that paper remains in the bin which I was not able to find. I had to ask the guys around me for that, and I am sure they might have been making a fun of me after that. I left for my hotel afterwards, talked to my family and I said everything was good, even the interview. The same day I purchased a SIM card (already activated, we don’t have pre-activated SIMs in India due to security concerns) and the next day I went on a two day tour of Scotland, returned on 31st January. On 1st Feb, I went to the University of Glasgow for a short tour, and Hunterian Museum.
On 2nd Feb, I returned back to New Delhi, India.
On 7th Feb, 2014, I received an email that I have not been selected.
I was a bit sad due to this. But this failure ignited a feel of passion of abroad in me in a practical way. Finally, I thank everyone who helped me to get there. I experienced a whole new world of opportunity. If I would not have been failed, I would have never gone through other opportunities I had and currently having in my life, It changed the way I look at the world today. In May 2014, the company reimbursed me with 500 pounds as promised. (It was a bit late but that’s fine, thanks to Conor and Sian for that and ofcourse, my internship coordinator Jemma Langham). Thank you J.P. Morgan for making all this happen.
Are you thinking this was the end of my journey, no! This was just the starting. I kept on moving.! Thanks for your time.
sorry for any grammatical mistake. image credits: Google maps and some websites which I am too lazy to write down.