As you know, I was a Software Engineering Intern at Google during the Summer of 2016. It was a great experience, and I’ll write all about it soon, but I’d like to first talk about how you can apply to get an internship at a similar company, as well as give some advice on what you should do.
First of all: YES, YOU SHOULD TRY!
A lot of people say they don’t apply for companies like Google because it is too hard to get a position, but I don’t aggree with them because that’s not a reason for not trying! What I always say is: if you don’t apply, you have 0% chance of getting a position, but if you do, you have >0% changes of getting it. To me, that alone makes the “effort” (if you can call it that) worth it.
So, how does it work? (I’ll talk specifically about Google’s hiring process, but it is very similar in other companies like Facebook, Amazon, …)
Applying (CV screening)
First, you should check out careers.google.com. There, you can take a look at the available positions, filtered by location. It’s really easy to apply just choose a few positions and follow the instructions.
During the process you will be asked for a CV. This is very important, because it may be the deciding factor for you to get through. CareerCup offers some great resume tips, and I also recommend the Cracking the Coding Interview book for both interview and resume advice. As an example, you can also take a look at my CV.
At this point you need a lot of luck. Each resume only has a few seconds of attention by the recruiters due to the hundreds of thousands of applications they get every year, so I’d really emphasize on keeping the resume short and specific. If you do get selected, you move on to the interviews stage.
At Google, you have 2 45-minute interviews with two different interviewers. These are video-calls via Google Hangouts with the interviewers, in which you write code in a shared Google Docs document.
This is the part that requires most skill to pass. Usually the interviews have 5 minutes at the beggining and end where you can ask questions and get to know the interviewer a little bit. During the rest of the time you are asked algorithms and data structures questions (mostly). I’d recommend the Cracking the Coding Interview book as well as HackerRank for tips and practice questions (especially the book), but here’s some advice:
- Keep talking to the interviewer. If you don’t talk, the interviewer can’t understand how you are tackling the problems, so walk them through your thought process.
- Don’t rush. Rushing will make you more stressful and your speech harder to understand, so do your best to stay calm.
- Ask questions. If you have doubts or want something to be clearer, just ask the interviewers. This shows a lot about your problem-solving process and interviewers often give some tips on the problem if you ask the right questions.
- Be honest. This is one of the most important points. Be honest about what you are thinking. If you really can’t figure out the solution to a problem, be honest about it instead of going around not making any actual problem. The interviewer might switch to an easier problem and that keeps your chances alive!
Up to a week after the interviews, the recruiter will call you to tell you their feedback. If it was positive, then you move along to the Host Matching stage. At this point you are seen as “Google approved”, so intern hosts will start looking at your profile, and will reach out to your recruiter if they think you are a match for their teams. If this happens, you are scheduled calls with the hosts so that you can understand what they work on and decide if that interests you.
Keep in mind that getting to host matching doesn’t guarantee you a position (and the recruiters tell you that), but especially if you get in at the beggining of the hiring process, it’s almost guaranteed.
If you get through all this stages, then you get to experience what was for me one of the best experiences of my life: working at Google!
I’ll write about the internship experience soon, but I end this post by highly recommending applying for big tech companies, because it doesn’t hurt trying and if you do get it, I almost guarantee you will never forget it!