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My Internship at Tesla: A Student's Perspective

Photo of Sanchi Arora

Sanchi Arora, a December 2016 Industrial Systems Engineering graduate, shares her experience as an Intern with Tesla. After graduation, Sanchi accepted a full time position with Accenture.

Tell us about your Production Control Analytics Intern role at Tesla:

Once I started working, I soon learned that my role would change from day to day. I mainly focused on improving the line side sequencing and car customization processes.

During my internship, I expressed my keen interest in analytics and using big data to draw insights. Because I spoke up, my team offered to give me work that complimented my interests resulting in live Tableau dashboards that traced inventory around the factory, addressing part shortages, and triggering safety stock replenishments. 

My time at Tesla was an extremely unique experience as the structure of the company is flat and everyone works together to achieve the company goal. I was able to communicate with leadership on a daily basis and these individuals often witnessed the work that my fellow interns and I completed.

What resources did you use during your internship?

I heavily relied on YouTube videos for quick Excel, Tableau, [and] MySQL questions. In addition, my team served as a good sounding board. Tesla was unique in that there was a lot of ownership given on projects and the trial and error method was definitely acceptable. With that being said, I’d be given projects based on factory needs. Then, I would create a plan, run it by my colleague, assemble a team, and implement. This was challenging but incredibly insightful because executing any plan meant getting line side, warehousing, delivery, and ERP systems updated. [S]ometimes this would work and sometimes I would find the plan wasn't as seamless as I may have hoped. In that case, the plan could be scrapped and a new plan was instated, implemented, and executed. 

Can you share your insight on Tesla’s hiring process?

I waited in line at the Ohio State Engineering Expo, I know it is a long one, but definitely worth it! Later that evening, I found a first round interview email in my junk folder for the next day. The first round interview consisted of sharing an overview of myself, my experiences, and why I wanted to work at Tesla. The recruiter was really nice and made the experience pretty smooth and conversational.

At that time, my goal was to find a summer internship. This was a little bit of a challenge as Tesla likes to hire more semester long co-ops in the fall then typically hire summer interns in spring semester. After the fair, I stayed persistent and kept checking up with my recruiter to see where I was in the hiring process. I also kept the recruiter updated on any other internship offer deadlines. Then, I received a call around the end of October/beginning of November saying I'd have a second round interview the following day at 5 pm EST. It was a Skype interview with the manager. That second interview was about 30-40 minutes. I found out that night around 9 pm that I had received the job! So, for me, the hiring process for a summer internship was about 2 months. However, it is definitely a case by case.

How did you handle tough questions during your interviews?

The Tesla interviewing process was one of my first experiences where my second interview, conducted by the manager of the team, was a technical interview. A lot of the questions were based off of key concepts from Industrial Engineering. Many topics were pulled directly from ISE planning, process, and facility design course. Overall, I tried to remain clear and concise in my answers, asked for clarifications whenever stuck, and talked through my thought process. Ultimately, I think that strategy really helps the interviewee see one's chain of thoughts, progression of thoughts, and recognize where the holes are in their understanding. Often times, when an interviewer asks tough technical questions, he/she is looking to understand your thoughts and see that you ask questions when you are uncertain.

In your opinion, what core skills or qualities does Tesla find most useful?

Using Excel, Access, and SQL were key to performing well in my role. In addition, being quick on your feet, having a willingness to learn, and thinking out of the box are essential skills to possess as an intern. There were a lot of opportunities to improve upon processes, it was just a matter of thinking of alternative options and their effect on delivery. Tesla is an extremely fast paced company, so being flexible with change is critical. 

"When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor." -Elon Musk

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