Interviewing: internships and full time
reflection and advice after 4 years
I believe that this article addresses different aspects of interviewing I’d tell myself if I could travel back in time. This article is a reflection and an advice column on how the whole experience is.
Tips for applying
Keep track of dates, they are usually posted on the company website. I think being ready to apply by late August is a great idea.
If you want to start early, some companies, especially those in the bay area, will interview you during the summer. If you want to take advantage of university recruiting however, it’s pretty convenient to get interviews from your university’s career fair.
Also note that if you’re aiming for startups not all startups make it out to career fairs, so it’s good to do additional research on those companies. They might have a firstname.lastname@example.org that you can email to ask about opportunities if they’re not posted on their website.
I would advise to monitor the status of your applications via a list or sheet of companies. For me, the perfect tool was to have a Trello board dedicated to the matter, with Lists (columns) titled “Have Yet to Apply”, Applied”, “In Process”, “Offers”, and “RIP”, and having each company be a Card (row) on those Lists.
Appropriate goal setting
Depending on what your career aspirations are, which includes if you’re going to grad school, your goals in getting experience will probably be different than mine. For me, I had no intention of going to grad school, at least not immediately after college.
Goals over the years
- freshman year: do something productive
- sophomore year: internship
- junior year: internship at a place that I could see myself at full time
- senior year: finalize full time offer at a place that I can see myself growing best at that I would stay at for at least 2–4 years
What ended up happening
- freshman year: poked around at career fair, asked upperclassmen for help, stalked people’s past internships on LinkedIn, interned at the same place a friend (back then a FB intern) interned at after his freshman year, learned web stuffs
- junior year: was proactive at career fair, did a lot of interviews, bought 2 interviewing books to calm nerves, decided to interview for a different area (software) at LinkedIn, took that offer
- senior year: primarily wanted to work at a smaller company, interviewed for more smaller companies, went to tech fairs (internapalooza, greylock), career fair, conferences (grace hopper). asked friends for referrals / recruiting help (dropbox, yext, microsoft).
If I could change something…
I would have interned at a startup.
Interviewing for full time felt very similar to interviewing for internships. I notice a current trend is for companies to give full time candidates an additional round of interviews compared to their intern candidates.
Intentionality. I didn’t really know what I wanted before senior year, so I didn’t give preferences for teams I wanted to be on as an intern. Looking back, I would’ve valued interning in mobile development, but because I didn’t ask for it, I had less chance to get it.
It’s different for everyone. I’ve met people across the spectrum of those who study and those who don’t; those who do well and those who could’ve done better, and I can’t draw any correlation from what I’ve seen. A lot of my junior year was trial and error in what worked for me in terms of managing stress and time, which led to a much better recruiting experience senior year.
I will admit I hit a huge low in morale junior year, as I went beyond my physical limits of interviewing, and got involved in a negative cycle of interviewing poorly, getting exhausted, losing focus, interviewing poorly. I wish I had taken better care of myself in those days.
One of the mistakes I had during the gloomy days was letting my interview results shape how I perceived myself in relation to my peers, when in fact there are many nondeterministic factors involved. I’ve had poor interviews that moved me forward in the process, and excellent interviews after which I was turned down. At the end of the day, I’ve been fortunate to have friends to remind me to not overthink things, and to move on.
I’m going to be a full time Software Engineer at Yext NYC next year! If you’d like to know how I made my decision, feel free to check out my blog post about it here.