Note: I previously wrote about my internship interview experience in a Reddit post here. Although I touch on some of the same highlights below, I will focus on some more specific details that I have not already shared.
“The surest path to a full-time job is an internship.”Codepath
With the above in mind, I started planning in 2021 to do a software engineering internship in 2022, with the goal of securing a full-time software engineering role by 2023. This resulted in a very busy first year as a Computer Science student at Oregon State. I participated in hackathons, got involved in student organizations, took technical interviewing prep sessions, attended numerous virtual career fairs, and spent countless hours studying and interviewing on top of handling full course loads.
Amazingly, I also decided to do all of this while traveling and backpacking across multiple countries. Looking back, I was over-confident that I would receive a good outcome, since the economy and job market was so advantageous last year. If I was in the same position with the current macro economic situation, I would have not made the same decision and stayed in one area.
What made my decision so risky? At a certain point, I was on the road for 8-9 hours a day and only had 2-3 hours at night to study, do homework, or take calls. Arguably, a more dedicated Computer Science student would have spent more time doing Leetcode or ensuring they had access to reliable internet rather than risk taking interviews in remote towns with a population of 10.
With that said, what boosted my internship hunt process was that I was able to get quality opportunities. Opportunities to boost my resume, connect with recruiters, and improve the efficiency of my studies. These were the programs, hackathons, and conferences that I felt made the most impact on my internship interviewing experience:
- Codepath Technical Interview Prep: There are multiple class levels. I applied for the Intermediate course because I did not feel confident enough to apply to Advanced, and the Intermediate level was the minimum level needed to apply for the Virtual Career Fair (VCF). I initially thought that the VCF would be a key component to getting an internship, and I actually spoke with 15+ companies through this process, but there was so many students with higher scores than me, that none of these amounted to anything. The biggest benefit was that I got onto recruitment email lists for events and future opportunities.
- Rewriting the Code (RTC) Interview Prep: The study group itself dissolved over the first few weeks, but I got a free annual subscription to AlgoExpert and a technical interview preparation guide with specific problems and recommended timeline. The free subscription was a godsend for a visual learner such as myself.
- Lyft Early Talent Access (ETA) Program: This program consisted of multiple webinars/workshops where recruiters and Lyft engineers demystified the interview process by explaining each part and providing tips on what they were looking for. At the end of the program, they also selected certain students to complete mock interviews. I was lucky enough to be selected. My mock interview was with a real Lyft engineer and I was given an easy LC problem (that we then adjusted to make it a bit more difficult). I received feedback that was a “Strong Yes”, and I had a follow-up group feedback interview with a different engineer. After this, I was able to proceed through an expedited internship interview process, which only consisted of two rounds (Byteboard and Final).
- Wells Fargo Junior Leaders Conference: I initially applied for this program in June. The next month, I had a phone interview (behavioral) with a senior engineer, and attended the virtual conference in August. At the conference, I had the opportunity to interview (video) with a few executives. It was a long interview focused on behavioral skills and system design. By early September I received an offer — my first! It was a special day. When I received the offer call, I was in a hostel in Santo Domingo in Spain. The WiFi was spotty and kept dropping. I celebrated later than night by treating myself to dinner at Restaurante Los Caballeros.
I sent around 34 internship applications, received 7 offers, and accepted 2 (Winter 22 and Summer 22). I tried to move some of my summer offers to Fall but was unsuccessful. Most off-season internships are reserved for students attending co-op schools, such as University of Waterloo.