Landing an Internship

I am looking forward to dive into my project, but don’t have too much to report. So this week, I will be talking about finding an internship.

Internship Search

When I started this program, I knew getting an internship would be essential to starting my new career off on the right foot. Internships, however, are notoriously difficult to land. LinkedIn was useful for setting up notices for job postings. Keeping tabs on posts early on helped me to grow an understanding of what employers were looking for in an intern. Handshake was the other platform I used frequently.

I applied to many internships during my first year and a half in the program, with varying success. I received one offer for an unpaid internship in January 2021, but that was sub optimal as I still needed to pay bills and didn’t want to split my time between my job at the time. Responses were hard to come by, let alone interviews. I didn’t get past the phone interview process or online testing for a paid position until the spring before the summer before I graduate!

Landing Interviews

I’ll speak to the two interview processes that actually resulted in offers. Scentsy, located in my current city, Meridian, Idaho is the first. I applied in 2020, two quarters into the program. I had two phone interviews, one with a recruiter and then one with a manager. The process was postponed due to the pandemic, and I eventually never heard back. The following year, I saw a position open for a full time engineer and applied. I was turned down within a couple of days, but the recruiter added me on LinkedIn. A week or so later, their summer internship was posted and I applied after receiving the notification. I followed that up with a message to the recruiter, indicating I had applied the year previously, and was excited to again. I received an email about a week later to start the interview process.

Tyler Technologies based out of Plano, Texas was the other. I heard of this company through the mentor-ship program with Oregon State. My mentor is a developer there. We had built a relationship through regular bi-weekly meetings during the year and a half I had been in the program. I am grateful he offered to give me a reference when they were hiring interns.

Scentsy Interview Process

Scentsy’s interview process had four steps. The first was a thirty minute phone screening with the recruiter in which he asked me common behavioral questions. Most were “Tell me a time when…”. I was thrown off by the question “What’s the biggest misconception people have when they meet you.” The next step was a Zoom interview with a manager. He asked me about projects I had worked on and had good followup questions. It was clear that the interview was unscripted. It flowed naturally.

Following that was a two part panel interview, the first thirty minutes with a few developers, and the second with a few managers. The developers asked me to do an easy LeetCode style question (FizzBuzz) and asked me a couple of followup questions. Management asked me more questions about my background, projects, courses, hobbies. The final interview composed of the first manager, a manager who wasn’t in the third interview who I would be working under, and a database developer who would be my mentor. They wanted to see if I’d be interested in having a more database centered internship on a cloud migration team. They gauged my interest and availability in working beyond the summer.

Tyler Interview Process

Tyler Technologies had a slightly different process. My “thirty minute” phone screening with the recruiter I think lasted ten minutes. She asked me to tell me about myself, which I answered relatively briefly, expecting followup questions. They did not come. She thanked me and said she’d follow up with me. This made me incredibly nervous, but in retrospect, I think my reference put me past this stage.

The next step was a technical interview. It was an hour long with one of their developers. One thing that made me super nervous for this was that I had to do it in C#, which I had never used before. The problem was a kind of game. The project was mostly complete and I had to write code to compete with an AI they’d written by setting rules for moves on a board. I thought I did terribly. My mentor was interested and reached out to him and reported back to me that he was impress, to my pleasant surprise.

The final interview was a panel with the recruiter, a couple of managers, and a developer. They asked similar questions as Scentsy, projects, teamwork situations, conflict resolution. Overall it was a positive, albeit more nerve wracking experience.

Making a Choice

As I mentioned, I was fortunate enough to get offers at both of these companies. Scentsy was the first. I was sitting in the doctor’s office for my annual wellness, waiting the twenty minutes between the medical assistant taking my vitals and the doctor walking in abruptly. I received a text from the recruiter that and offer would be incoming later that day. Overcome with emotion, I burst into tears. Worried that folks in the hallway would think I had just received bad news, I stifled myself.

All the hard work. The risk I took going back to school. It was all worth it. I’d graduate with something under my belt. I wouldn’t just be in more debt. I’d have something to show for it. Sharing the news with my wife was incredible. Putting in notice at my job I was beginning to hate was relieving. Sharing the news with my parents was vindicating.

Surprised to receive the second offer, I didn’t realize I would be making a choice. Tyler actually offered more money, but during the interview process, they were iffy about work after the summer. They said that they couldn’t promise anything, but that they hired many interns part time after the summer. Contrasted with Scentsy, who were actively concerned about my ability to work after the summer ended. I didn’t want to risk going back to my old job. I wanted to move forward with my future. Among other things, this was the major factor for me choosing Scentsy and I’m still loving the decision I made, even after my internship.

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