In the summer of 2018 I had a totally new experience that turned out to be very interesting: I was STEP (Summer Trainee Engineering Program) Intern Software Engineer at Google in London. This internship program is specially designed for students that finished the first year out of three or the second year out of four. Therefore, this kind of internship addresses students with no working experience and it is based on fast learning. Comparing with a classic Google internship program where you work alone, the STEP internship group students into pairs and the projects are not so difficult. For me it was the first time when I worked in the industry and I can affirm that it was a great start for my future career in the software engineering field.
The Recruitment Process
Probably the way I got selected for this internship was not an usual one, because I didn’t apply on the career platform, but I got a message on LinkedIn from a recruiter. She was presenting me this program I was not aware of and asked me to apply if I am interested. From there, the recruitment process was divided into 3 stages:
I had two technical interviews which consist in solving a programming task. A book that I can recommend for preparing the technical interviews is Cracking the Code Interview. The difficulty of the tasks was not so high, especially for this beginners program. They want to find people that can think critical and have communication skills, not necessary one certain programming language skill. You will have time to learn more during the summer time if accepted.
Project Matching Stage
After successfully passed the technical interviews, I had to find a project that matches my wishes and skills. For this stage I needed to fill a form providing details about my experience and preferences regarding programming languages, technologies and locations where I wish to work. There were some questions about the fields I want to discover. Based on this form and my resume, Google employees that had projects for this internship program could decide if they think I am a good match for them or not. This employee is called host and if you will be accepted, he will be your boss during the summer time.
During the STEP program, the interns work in pairs, so both of them will have two hosts. When a host decide that he wants to find out more about you, he will schedule a video call. During this call you will meet that person and find out a little bit about his work. You will introduce yourself and talk about your skills, projects and experience to convince him you are the person he wants in his team. One important thing is to be excited and interested about the project if you find it suitable for you. Sometimes you won’t find out a lot about the team or the project because the information is confidential. I had two such project matching calls.
The first potential project was in the Munich office, but it was not fitting my profile. Now after I finished my internship I realised that maybe it was challenging, but the privacy doesn’t allow the employees to give enough details about the project in this stage. Then I got the second call with the persons that became my hosts for this internship. I found out that they work in the London offce and they presented me a short description of the project that I found interesting despite the fact that I didn’t understand all the details.
The confirmation came in almost a week and they accepted me! I send the recruiter more personal details and documents and then I got an offer which I electronically signed.
Living in a foreign country
Maybe I can say that getting the offer was the easiest part of this experience. I consider that the most difficult part was moving to a foreign country. It was pretty difficult for me to find accommodation because I didn’t know the city, so it was unclear which areas are safer and better for living. Moreover, it turned that the best option was to live in a student accommodation, but the problem was that the University in UK starts at the beginning of September, so before then end of my internship (21st September). Another option was to rent a flat, but when I searched this on the online platforms I found out it was much more expensive, at least leaving alone. After searching more than a month and sending many emails, I decided that the best option for me at that moment was to live in a student accommodation for the first two months and then move to another place until the end of the internship.
The first student accommodation I lived in was Urbanest St. Pancras. The experience was almost perfect. The room looked exactly like in the pictures from the website, clean , modern and with new furniture. There were two things that made me not be fully satisfied with this place. The first one was that in that summer was really hot in London, so in my room was constantly 30 degrees. The second problem I faced with was the fact that the kitchen was shared with another 10 rooms. I didn’t need to cook so much, because during the week I was eating at the office. The flatmates were cooking daily and never cleaned the kitchen, so I payed twice for cleaning and repairs due to the fact that it was a common space.
The second location where I lived was below my expectations. As you can see on their website The Stay Club Camden the rooms seem to look very well, but the reality is different. I lived in a double room with another Google intern. The room was very small, almost the same size as the room where I lived alone and the bathroom was tiny. Moreover, the room was pretty dirty and it had a lot of issues (the window couldn’t be closed, the sink was clogged and some bulbs didn’t work). The area of this student accommodation was crowded and noisy and I had to walk quite much every day to the office.
This internship gave me the opportunity of meeting some wonderful people and learn a lot from them. It started with a welcome summit in Zurich where all the STEP interns from Europe met each other and had some activities. Then, for the next 11 weeks I worked on my project, received and gave feedback and attended some mandatory and optional workshops for learning as much as I could during the internship. Probably you already heard that Google employees have free food at the office and that is true. I also had access to fitness and aerobic classes. However, they care a lot about the employees careers too, so there were workshops and classes organised for everyone to learn more different subjects.
In my opinion, the experience of such an internship program, at least during your studies is crucial for ensure a faster career development. If the internship is taking place in a foreign country, you will gain the most of this experience, because you must go outside your confort zone and face different situations.
Apply now for giving you a change to an unforgettable experience! I would love to hear your opinion and questions into the comments section below!