Monday, October 16, 2023
Osama Khalid, pictured at a trail marker - at intersection of Bay Area Peak and Ridge Trails - submitted

What did a typical day look like as a Software Engineering Intern at Google?

I think my daily routine was quite typical of the tech industry in general. I would go to work at 9am, grab a coffee by 9:30, have a daily check-in with my intern host, work till 1pm, have lunch till 2, go back to work till 5. And after 5, completely disconnect from work, which is a luxury I can't afford in my regular grad life.

How did you navigate securing multiple internships within the same company?

For the first internship, I applied! (This is very critical, see response to question 4). And gave 2-3 tech interviews. After that I was assigned a recruiter and put in the team-matching pool. I wasn't particularly happy with the teams my recruiter was trying to match me to, so I started reaching out to various people at Google, whose work I liked to see if they were looking for interns. Once I got a positive response, that was it.

By the second internship, I was more familiar with the process, so it was easier, Additionally, because of my performance during the first internship, I didn't have to give the tech interviews. The rest of the process was the same as the first time.

How has your experience aided you since returning to study at the University of Iowa?

During my internship, I honed the tools and skillset that I have been using in my research work. This is not just limited to the technical skills I acquired, but also at a broader level, my understanding of the implication and impact of my work.

What skills did you develop or enhance during your time as an intern?

I think the most important skill I developed during both my internships was handling Natural Language Processing (NLP) problems at Google's scale. My research generally has focused on problems at a much smaller scale. Adapting my skillset to deal with problems at that scale was quite an interesting technical challenge.

What helpful tips do you have for current students seeking internships?

I think the most important thing to do is to apply. Personally, I think one of the main reasons I didn't interview for internships during the first couple of years of my PhD was that I was too caught up in the idea that the tech interviews are hard, complicated and require a lot of preparation and I should only apply once I am fully prepared. Yes! the interviews do require some preparation, and you can prepare as much as you want, but the preparation is of no use if you don't actually apply!

What was your favorite aspect of your internship?

I loved the free food. I am quite embarrassed to admit that I managed to gain quite a few pounds over the summer because of the amazing food they had. The Google campus in California is quite close to the Sierra Nevadas. I spent almost every weekend hiking through the mountains of California, trying to burn some of those extra pounds off.

Can you see yourself in a future career with Google?

Definitely. Even though I like academia, I think what I actually love is working on problems that have real-world impact. At least in NLP, the work being done in the industry at that scale is far more exciting for me.


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