How I Prepared for And Secured Three Software Engineering Summer Internship Positions in Big Tech Companies.
Summer 2019, I had just finished my sophomore year of college and declared CS as my major. Being a CS student, I had seen upper class students secure internships with big tech companies in Silicon Valley, and honestly the thought of having to prepare for a technical interview let alone secure a summer internship really scared me. At the time I had only taken basic CS and Math classes. I barely had any CS project on my portfolio and was not at all confident in my coding skills.
Having no solid experiences that I could add to my resume, I had chosen to dedicate that summer in preparing as well as honing my skills in readiness for the next recruiting season. Every day, I made it a goal to do at least two leetcode problems. I had also started working on CS projects for my portfolio. Trust me, it was not easy and there are times I felt so overwhelmed especially when I could not work my way in solving a leetcode problem. However, being part of a community online (Rewriting the Code) gave me the dedication and discipline to continue. A dedication that saw me become better in my problem-solving skills as well as completing my portfolio projects!
In July, most companies had started opening their fall and summer 2020 internships. I updated my LinkedIn and resume and began applying for the postings that I saw on LinkedIn at the time. It was also during that time that I applied for a Grace Hopper Scholarship and also applied to be part of the Code2040 Fellows program. Eagerly, I waited for feedback from my applications, but of the 13 companies I had applied to from LinkedIn, only 5 had gotten back to me asking me to take their technical challenges.
My first technical challenge was a big failure! I failed 7 out of my 8 tests! I remember saying that I was giving up the whole internship search and that I was not fit for this CS career. At the time I felt like all the nights I had put practicing on leetcode were not worth it. I am so grateful for my partner who had just graduated with his CS degree, he really came through especially in reviving my confidence that made me keep doing the other technical challenges.(We all need a support system for such times).I later learnt that the more technical challenges and interviews I took the better I became in them.
Early August came with good news from my Grace Hopper and Code 2040 applications. I had secured a Grace Hopper Scholarship to attend the conference as well as secured a spot as a Code 2040 finalist! This was such a huge feat for me and the highlight of my summer 2019. In preparation for Grace Hopper I uploaded my resume on their resume database and this gave me access to a whole lot of companies. Companies even began reaching out to me on the database asking to schedule interviews! I was mostly excited when Facebook reached out because for a long time I had always wanted to work at Facebook.
I spent most of August doing interviews from the companies that reached out and while some interviews did not go as well, I got invited for onsite final rounds for a couple companies i.e. Facebook, Lyft, Twitter, Stripe, Splunk, Discover, TaskRabbit, Slack, Dropbox, Adobe. Honestly looking back, I am so proud of myself for getting this far with these companies especially since this was my first time applying for tech internships.
In October I attended the Grace Hopper conference in Florida for three days, and I had chosen to take most of my onsite final interviews there. My first interview was the Facebook interview and I was a nervous wreck! While I answered my technical whiteboard challenge well enough my anxiety was definitely a setback. On my last day at GHC, I got my results from Discover and guess what! I had secured an offer! I cannot describe the feeling I had when I received that call from the recruiter.
Most of my other results were sent in the next few weeks and while I didn’t secure some offers, I also got competitive offers from Adobe and Slack! I was so happy about the Slack offer because I had really grown to love the company through my interactions with them. You can guess which company I ended up choosing for my summer internship! Slack.
In conclusion, my four months of hard work over the summer were definitely fruitful as I had ended up securing an internship for the next summer early, most importantly I had grown and learnt a lot as a software engineer and CS student. Here is a short summary of what I believed worked for me.
- Leetcode and Cracking the Coding interview practice. I did a lot of interview problems and even have a YouTube playlist for questions and how to solve them on my channel so feel free to check them out.
- Being part of tech communities i.e. Rewriting the Code, Girls Who Code, Grace Hopper Scholarship, Code2040 (These communities played a big role in me getting access to recruiters as well as internship opportunities.)
- Working on projects for my portfolio early! (Making sure the projects were interesting and portrayed my skills.)
- Having a personal portfolio website that showcased my skills as well as projects! (This is highly recommended.)
- Update your linkedin and make sure your resume includes all your accomplishments.
- Be aggressive and reach out to recruiters for companies you are interested in!(I got 10 interviews from reaching out!)
- Not giving up. (The whole internship search process can be such a stressful experience but not giving up and having a fighting spirit definitely takes you a long way!
I hope that this encourages and inspires someone out there during this upcoming recruiting season. We got this!
HAPPY RECRUITING SEASON!