Of chips, wafers and other goodies - Internship at KLA-Tencor

Internships Jan 28, 2015

‘Where did you do your internship?’ my friend asked me, out of curiosity.

‘KLA-Tencor’, I replied.

If you are clueless at the very mention of the name “KLA-Tencor” or if you partially knew that the company had something to do with silicon wafers, semiconductors and chip manufacturing or if you don’t really understand why they recruit a Software engineer, I suggest an in and out read of this link. Here is a brief account on my 7th semester Internship experience with this company.

The Recruitment

When the recruitment team from the Software branch of KLA-Tencor arrived at our campus, I did not quite know that I was in for a day’s workshop activity. Unlike the straight forward serious interviews that any student panics for, the internship recruitment process was very well framed in such a way that I felt like I was my normal self, throughout. Of course, they kick started with a traditional “Round 1” that included coding and online compilation. What happened later was pretty interesting. All candidates were asked to gather in a hall. The recruitment team split us according to our sun signs (seriously!) and asked us to work as a team to build the tallest tower using newspapers. Group discussions were held on common and familiar topics. Alongside, we had to come up with innovative ideas that could solve issues that one might get to face in his/her day to day life. Can’t say it did not help us relax a bit. The team then introduced themselves. The president of the company gave us an overview on the company’s functionalities after which, the first round results were announced. For the second round, an open but quite complex a problem to solve was given. As with my peers, I was also clueless if I had what it took to solve the problem. We were given a day’s time with complete freedom to access the internet. Also, we were allowed to use any language of our choice for implementing our idea. The team members assisted us and observed how each of us approached the given problem. And, the first day concluded with us individually giving them a rough idea on how we were going to implement the solution.

The recruitment happened the next day, after each one of us presented them a working solution. What we realized in the end was that they had pushed what we thought was our ‘capability’ to several steps ahead. It was revealed that they had monitored us throughout the workshop and had given us scores based on various aspects. They also picked few others who willingly participated and were almost close to figuring out the solution and presented them with a raspberry pi device as their sign of appreciation.

PS: The recruitment process is completely different for full time employment.

The Overall Intern Experience

At KLA-Tencor, we were at first trained by a bunch of experienced software engineers. They helped us to sync in with their working environment and gave us a brief on the domain we were to familiarize ourselves with, in order to work with a better understanding. Each one of us had a mentor, who belonged to the very divisions we were put into, to assist us with our individual projects. We were allowed to experience the whole project life cycle and were treated merely like an employee. The environment was so lively with an equal mix of experienced colleagues and new college graduates who were ready to guide us whenever we thought we hit a roadblock. A lot of learning happened and every single day was satisfactory. ‘Work while you work, play while you play’ is a jargon that they seriously consider. The frequent hang outs with the team to the places in and around Chennai helped us in actually experiencing what ‘work-life balance’ meant.

Be it the birthday celebrations, a new movie release, rock concert or a fancy place for lunch, people were up and enthusiastic to enjoy them all as a team. An annual cricket tournament ‘KT-PL’ (similar to IPL) takes place every summer where each team would pick its players through an auction. Similarly, there is a tournament for the table tennis players as well. The catamaran rides in Kovalam beach, tiger caves and other tourist spot visits in Mahabalipuram, terrain vehicle rides in ECR and indoor sports in resorts are few of the memorable one day outings with the team.  While there were fun outings, there were also camp activities that involved visits to the nearby areas in order to plant trees.

This company was a great opportunity. Not only did it enhance my learning curve but it also did mark a clear difference on how different, matured and organized I was able to think post the internship period. Over all, the corporate life standards that it will set wouldn’t let you slip by and settle for anything else.

KRITHIKA SUKUMAR (MSc Software Engineering 2011-16) thinks more, worries less, is passionate about Harley’s and Enfield’s, reads adequately and is easily annoyed when the answer to a question is far beyond her reach.


Krithika Sukumar

Krithika Sukumar thinks more, worries less, is passionate about Harley’s and Enfield’s, reads adequately and is easily annoyed when the answer to a question is far beyond her reach.