Tag Archives: internship

Internship Searching Season 2008

So January (and in some ways, December) is the time to start looking for internships. I’ve already done quite a bit of looking along with sprucing up my portfolio site (the projects section has accordion effects now!) and updating my resume.

I think part of the reason it’s difficult to search for internships is because I’d like to define the internship rather than the employer defining it for me. I understand the need to succinctly say, here’s what the internship position is, but too often I end up seeing generic “software engineering” of which I have no idea what they entail.

Hey, maybe some potential companies are looking at my blog! Then I can define what I’m looking for in an internship and they can contact me if they agree! But part of the problem is that I’m also unsure of what I’m looking for in an internship. Okay, perhaps a lengthy blog post will fix that.

I’m originally a classically trained Computer Scientist. That’s what my B.S. is in, and that’s what I can do on paper. So I should qualify for all of these generic Software Engineering positions. Going into grad school, I’ve been under the impression that maybe there is something more interesting than vanilla software engineering. Of course, my knowledge of “vanilla software engineering” is not really based on facts of any kind. I did some freelance software engineering work for a company over the Summer, but I don’t think that’s indicative of any typical SE work. Actually, it’s probably generally false to assume that there exists a typical software engineering job. Maybe I’m oversimplifying. Anyway, let’s move along.

So far, I’ve been happy with my grad school experience. There are a lot of ideas floating around, a lot of real research being done, and smart people all around. I’ve done a project in my Networks class that could theoretically be considered research, and I find it interesting to just investigate things for the sole purpose of learning stuff.

My question is, what should I look for in an internship?

Of course I want to learn something. Do I want to get a research internship? Would a software engineering internship betray the academic lifestyle I’ve so enjoyed? Am I being an internship snob?

This is what’s going on in my head. Let’s take a brief interlude by checking out the internships I think are totally awesome, and why I think they’re awesome!

Not surprisingly, Google is on the top of my list for their internships. One reason is that their recruiting is second to none, seriously. Just look at Google’s internship page (which is fairly simple to find from their homepage) and compare it to Yahoo’s… oh wait, they don’t have an internship page to speak of. The Yahoo one just tells you to type “intern” in their way bad job search engine…

Okay, so onto the Google internships. The single internship I want most is “Associate Product Manager Intern.” Tangent: I was at the Google info session last year and talked to someone about opportunities for someone who was an engineer but has become slightly “more.” Again, I don’t want to sound like a snob or anything, I’m just talking about additional education. The Google guy told me I might want to apply as a PM. Apparently, Product Manager is an entry level position. I always thought that Software Engineers were promoted to PM status after working for a while. Anyway, the description leads me to believe that this is right up my alley:

The area: Product Management

Google’s Product Management group leads the processes that enable our company to bring innovative, world-changing products to market. Our team works closely with Engineering to help design and develop technologies that improve access to the world’s information. We’re responsible for analyzing user needs and guiding our products throughout the execution cycle. Our team offers a range of opportunities for candidates with less than two years of job experience who desire breadth and variety in their job responsibilities.

The role: Associate Product Manager Intern

As an Associate Product Manager Intern, you’ll work with engineers to define new features for existing products based on your understanding of user needs. You’ll also conduct research on markets and our competitors, focus on strategies that impact the direction of future products and develop leadership experience in a variety of Google’s product areas. Associate Product Manager Interns are given important responsibilities, generous access to resources and many opportunities to learn about other areas the organization. Technical, analytical and strategic planning skills are vital to performing successfully in this position.

Responsibilities:

  • Understanding and analyzing user needs.
  • Helping to define a product vision and strategy.
  • Working with world-class engineers to build and launch new features.

Requirements:

  • Currently pursuing a BA/BS in Computer Science or related field, and graduating in 2009.
  • Excellent written and oral communications skills.
  • Strong organizational and analytical skills.
  • Strong technical abilities.
  • Demonstrated capacity for developing and understanding strategy.
  • Deep interest in creating and analyzing products.

At this point, I think this position is about as close to my ideal internship as any will get. I really enjoy coming up with new products and applications. I like designing and building them, and analyzing them! It seems like it would balance creativity and practice pretty well.

Do any other companies take interns for PM positions? It still seems a bit strange to me, not that I would complain if I got it…

Google also has an internship for Software Engineering Statistician Intern. I think the requirements for that one are maybe a bit out of reach for me (I’m taking a stats course this semester) but it seems interesting.

As far as other prospects go, I was already shot down for a Facebook Internship, but that one was in Software Engineering. There is a full time position for “Data Insights” that seems interesting. I want to apply for it and ask if they’ll take me as an intern.

Another interesting “make mine an internship” internship could be the Research Analyst position on Digg’s job page. I’ve read that companies aren’t as averse to internship-ifying jobs as one might think. It shows I have the proactivity to get things done, right? Right!?

There are a few research labs that I was thinking of applying to as well. PARC, IBM, Microsoft, Yahoo (if they ever get any posts up). All of those labs have some group that is interested in social computing in one way or another. Yahoo is actually especially interesting because their labs have access data to Yahoo properties like Flickr, Delicious and Yahoo 360.

And those are just about all the places that I have considered so far. I think at this point, it is difficult for me to find an “appropriate” internship because there haven’t been any graduates from the University of Michigan School of Information with the specialization in Social Computing yet. It’s new from last semester!

Anyway, if you have any good suggestions, please leave a comment, or you can use my contact form that’s on my about page, too!

Facebook Internship Interview Result: Rejection! And Why I Like It…

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So I got a polite (aren’t they always?) email from a recruiter at Facebook about my interview. Rejection. I guess I’m not too surprised since Facebook is everyone’s favorite company right now. Apparently there are billions of people who want to get a job/internship there, and currently, there’s like ~300 employees. So I didn’t have a very good chance from the start.

Of course, my thought process immediately after reading the message went something like this:

Stage 1: Retaliatory. “I’m going to create the next Facebook-killer and they’ll all regret the day they rejected me!”

Stage 2: Somewhat more realistic, optimistic. “I’m going to create something they can’t help but acquire, which will be my ‘in!'”

Stage 3: Realistic: “Okay, I guess I’ll just improve and maybe try again next year.”

People might wonder why I’m so open to listing my rejections publicly. I think the reason is that I’m not ashamed by them; I actually tend to get motivated instead. For example, when I was rejected by Berkeley, Georgia Tech, UC Irvine and Iowa State, I decided that I’d work extra hard when I finally did begin grad school at Michigan. And I think I’ve been doing a job of getting involved academically.

When I was rejected by Google, I decided I’d become a better programmer (in addition to becoming more interested in real research with stuff like social networks, etc). Plus I made MapsKrieg shortly after the rejection (mostly because I needed to find an apartment, but if I had given up on Google, I might’ve used the Yahoo Maps API instead…).

Apparently I still need to work on this aspect a bit since the Facebook interview was basically a programming/algorithmic question. The “interview” was so short that I doubt anything meaningful about my abilities could have been evaluated. Sure, I didn’t prove P=NP, but I thought I did okay… I think it was a matter of the process being way too competitive (or at least, that’s how I’ll rationalize it to make myself feel better).

So what does this latest rejection mean for me? It means I’ll be working a lot harder in my networks class, for one. I’m working on a fairly interesting project, so hopefully that’ll buff my otherwise slim portfolio. Facebook is the only (should I say first?) company to reject me so far for Summer internships. So I still have a few other good companies to try.

In two years (more like one and a half, now), there might be a better company I’d like to work for. I still have a lot of time before I graduate, so hopefully I can become “acceptance worthy” material by then.

Facebook Information Session at Umich

So tonight there was a Facebook info session up at North Campus in the exact same room as the Yahoo one was, exactly one week ago to this very day!

In stark contrast to the Yahoo one, there were actually engineers, and they actually told us what they did, and why they liked it. Bob Trahannypoo (was that really his name?) and Jon Warman did the talking.

The info session was very geared towards engineers, and I found it interesting that a lot of the stuff they talked about seemed like shared knowledge among the room. Like they’d reference f8 and just assumed we knew what that was. I got all the references, but I’m not sure about other people.

Before the session, I was pretty convinced that Facebook was a solid company and seemed fun to work for. Now, I’m even more convinced. When your engineers answer questions like PR people, you know you’ve built a pretty good company culture.

Also, for anyone who hates the “is” in the status updates, I asked them if they could remove it when they asked for questions. The answer I got was “no, but maybe when we internationalize the ‘is’ will go away.” So good news on that front.

As far as schwag goes (it’s always a factor), I got some neat Facebook branded gum and M&Ms. If I ever decide not to be lazy, maybe I’ll take pictures. On the downside, no pens, notebooks, post-its, or shirts! Come on, guys! All the Silicon Valley companies are doing it!

The only thing that really sorta annoyed me was that I had tried and tried to get an interview with them. Because I’m not in the Engineering school of Michigan, I couldn’t log into their super special system. I still tried contacting the Facebook HR people but they never replied. I physically handed them my resume, so hopefully they’ll have a slot open tomorrow. I felt a bit of Engineering snobbery going on (as in, you’re nothing if you’re not an engineer), which is funny since I still consider myself an engineer (B.S. in Comp Sci == Engineer, right?). But I guess that’s the price I pay for entering the School of Information…

I’m still convinced that SI is a good choice, and also that Facebook rocks. Let’s see if something good happens.

EDIT: I got an interview, so it looks like I’ll be reading a bit of the algorithms book tonight.

Recruiting Day: Google and Yahoo

So in a strange turn of events, both Google and Yahoo were at the University of Michigan today, trying to get engineers to apply for jobs and internships. This is in addition to the Google talk I went to yesterday.

The Google thing was sort of a meet and greet type of deal. I talked to a few people about getting internships. They gave me a tip: find someone on the inside to search for internships in a particular group, and have then forward your resume. Luckily, I have a pal from my undergrad years that will probably be willing to do this.

To make up for me not getting a real prize last night, I got a $50 gift certificate for the Google Store. NICE! As usual, Google had some free food, so I got a bagel and orange juice.

I sorta stayed at the Google thing for too long (The Google thing started at 12 and Yahoo at 1) so I basically missed all of Yahoo’s thing. I did ask a question, though! I asked the dude to describe the sort of hierarchy at Yahoo, as a bottom-up or top-down organization, and specifically what they do to encourage creativity.

What I got was quite a bit of skirting around the issues, and not an answer to my actual question. Basically, I wanted to know if Yahoo has the same kind of culture that nurtures creativity like Google. And apparently they don’t. To be fair, the person I asked was a director of search and engineering. Way too high up to really understand what the code monkeys think. But in not answering my question, I think he answered it.

Oh, and I got a notebook and pen from the Yahoo thing. That was like the most impressive thing about Yahoo. I mean, I’d still consider interning there. But their recruiting efforts need to be a lot better than this. They did give away two iPod Nanos in the course of today, but I got neither. Maybe that’s why I’m unimpressed…

After that, I had a few classes. But I semi-reluctantly decided to go to a Google talk at 4: instead of my Networks lab. I know, ditching class to see a lecture… But the lecture hall was too full! So I just sat outside and tried listening to the lecture from outside the hall (there was a tv and the sound inside was being fed out with speakers). It didn’t work too well, though.

Then, I was really hungry. And ready for more free food. So I went to the Yahoo thing (a sort of repeat) at 5:30. This one had free pizza. The actual presentation was quite boring (by the same dude), but the end had free shirts and I also got a rubik’s cube.

So in the end, my opinion of Google is about the same, and my opinion of Yahoo is actually slightly lower. I don’t have a thing against the underdog, but they’re the underdog for a reason. Yahoo had tons of market share before Google even existed. And after Google, Yahoo’s been embarrassed on many, many fronts.

Oh, and the final shwag talley for the past 2 days is: Many Google pins (some say “I’m Feeling Lucky” and some say “Google” among other things), a white Google shirt, a $50 gift certificate for the Google Store, a notepad and pen from Yahoo, another light up pen from Yahoo, a Yahoo Rubik’s cube, and a Yahoo shirt. Not too bad if you ask me.