-by Vaibhav Sharma (Batch of 2023) and Vaidehee Thakur (Batch of 2022)
Anjali Garg, COE Batch of 2021, interned at Google, Mountain View, California in 2019, and has also secured a returning internship offer this summer. For this year, she will be remotely interning with the Google Search team.
How did you find out about the internship, and how was the whole recruitment process like?
One of my seniors sent me links to a plethora of internship openings. Towards the end of the December of my 2nd year, I applied for 3 positions at Google and a few other companies, including Microsoft and Facebook. Out of these, I did get a reply from Google, but was skeptical since I had heard that Google replies to everyone regardless of the result. I got rejected in the initial phase for 2 of the intern openings but was selected for further stages for the software engineering internship at MV.
For the next stages, I was asked to send them my mark-sheet and résumé, after which a coding challenge was conducted. It was a fairly easy one and had 2 questions- one on strings and one on trees. One of the rounds involved filling up a questionnaire, the purpose of which was to gauge my situational responsiveness and teamwork skills. I hadn’t kept my hopes too high for the results of this stage, as this internship was actually meant for 3rd years and above. Fortunately, I did clear the stage and get a reply back. This was followed by 2 back-to-back interviews of 45 minutes each, based on Data Structures and Algorithms. By this time, it was February. 3 weeks after the interviews, I received an email congratulating me on successfully clearing the rounds and informing me that I would be proceeding for the project search stage. My project was finalised around 5 weeks after that email.
What happens in the project stage?
Your résumé and interview results are forwarded to various intern managers, who then contact you if they wish to have you on their team as an intern. During the project selection stage, there is a very low likelihood of not being allotted a project, and there is a great degree of freedom of choice for the candidate when multiple managers contact them. The first manager who called me was from the Google Maps team. I instantly liked the project pitched to me, and decided to accept the offer. Coincidentally, the Project Manager was an alumnus of the 2015 batch of NSIT.
Can you shed some light on how your résumé looked like in your 2nd year?
My résumé wasn’t much into the competitive side, and was rather project-based. I had put a couple of my web development projects on it, in addition to mentioning the winning project that our team had made during SIH 2019. The relative importance of projects and competitive programming depends a lot on the recruiter who looks at your résumé. Quite a few recruiters look for a strong competitive coding profile and your standings in Kick Start and Code Jam. But I guess my recruiter had different parameters for selecting interns.
What was the duration of the internship?
Summer internships generally last for about 14 weeks in North America. However, this wasn’t possible for me due to the relatively short summer break in our college. So, I opted for the minimum duration they could offer, which was 12 weeks. My internship started on 20th May and ended on 9th August. Thankfully, our college was very supportive when I informed them of the internship, and they agreed to reschedule my practicals, which were originally clashing with my allotted internship dates. I registered for semester 5 around 2 weeks later than others.
How was your experience of joining the MV office? What is the work culture over there like?
Going to Mountain View alone was in itself a fantastic beginning of an even more splendid journey ahead of me. The people were really genial and always looked out for others. The employees were always open to having a hearty little discussion. Initially, It took me a while to open up to everyone, but eventually I met many people, including a lot of alumni from our college and other Indian universities, who were happy to have a chat or go out for lunches.
Initially, when the internship had barely begun, the whole technology stack used in the project was pretty new to me. However, everyone around me readily helped me anytime I struggled with anything, and I soon caught up to speed. I truly enjoyed working on my project, and ended up learning a good deal out of it.
Getting a returning internship offer from Google MV is a huge feat. Could you please share some advice that would help juniors having similar aims?
The first and most important step is to actively be on the lookout for these kinds of opportunities, as most opportunities don’t just come knocking at your door. It is common knowledge that Data Structures is one of the most important concepts to master. One should attain a stronghold over it as soon as possible, as it truly is the one of the most important deciding factors in the initial stages of recruitment. Try not to do the same projects everyone else is doing. Make something new that is actually useful. Try to find a solution to an existing problem. Recruiters do take into account the kind of projects you are doing. Aim to be as authentic in your résumé as possible.
How did you prepare for the interviews?
I got around 2 weeks of time to prepare for my interviews. I used it wisely and started preparing from GeeksforGeeks and InterviewBit. I was serious about this, and took a leave from classes to devote time to brushing up all my basic data structure skills. As advised by a few seniors I admire, I carefully went over fundamental topics like strings and arrays. These are important topics that people tend to neglect.
In my first interview, the questions basically built upon each other. They were simple tree-based questions. In interviews such as those at Google, they do not look for a specific or correct approach. Coming up with a complex solution right in the beginning doesn’t help at all. In any interview, you should think out loud from the very beginning, and start by finding a basic solution for the question while figuring out all edgy test cases. After that, you can try to build upon that algorithm. Interviewers test your thinking ability, not your ability to create complex solutions in a short time.
Is there anything you’d like to tell our readers?
Don’t hesitate to go straight for your goals. I wouldn’t have heard from Google if I hadn’t applied in the first place. This is the most important thing- venturing into everything available out there.