Internship at Google 2013
In the summer of 2013 I had an opportunity to be a part of the Google for whole 14 weeks. This article tells the whole story starting from the application process describing all my great experience. I was interning at Google Headquarters in sunny California and I was member of Google Research team. This article is accompanied with around 100 images from Google campus and surrounding areas.
1 Introduction and application process
I don't even know where to begin. I will probably tell the whole story from the beginning. Feel free to skip this gentle introduction if you want to read about Google internship.
1.1 Internship situation
I come from Czech Republic and internships are not very big deal there. Smaller companies usually do not take interns at all and there are not many large companies like in USA. Even though it is possible to get some cool internship over the summer I know just a few people who actually did. One of them is my good friend Milan who got internships at Google and Microsoft — wow.
However the situation in USA is very different as I discovered early after coming there. As you probably know USA (and especially California) is home for nearly all giants in computer science including Apple, Facebook, IBM, Microsoft, and of course Google. And all of them are actively searching and hiring a lot of interns. The competition for internships is also really high.
Figure 2: Famous Google building with a big white logo. One day some tourists asked me where the huge Google sign is. I answered that I don't know but now I realize that they were probably asking for this.
1.2 First semester
Shortly after beginning of my first semester I happened to become a member of ACM SIGGRAPH student chapter where I was exposed to regular resume reviews and demo reels. I did not even know what a "demo reel" means before! Demo reels are more for people like animators or artists to show off their skills but I really liked the idea of it so I decided to do something as well.
I decided to use Malsys (my bachelor's thesis about L-systems) to create cool animation of growing trees in the shape of letters HPCG which was the name of my research group. In order to create the animation I generated OBJ models with Malsys, rendered them nicely in Maya and composed video in Adobe Premier. I have never heard about program Maya before and suddenly it turned out that it is the number one software for 3D modeling out there. I would like to thank guys from ACM SIGGRAPH student chapter for great feedback and Professor Ray for helping me with Maya.
Figure 3: Some frames from animation of growing HPCG logo made as my "demo reel".
You might be questioning why I mentioned the demo reel and how does it relate to Google internship. Actually, it made me work on my portfolio and the whole exposure to stuff about internships, where to apply, how to apply, and how to improve your chances was very beneficial. Right about that time I created my LinkedIn profile and prepared my resume for applications. I think that the whole initiative improved my chances greatly.
First I wanted to apply for Google because it was in my eyes the coolest company to work for. But shortly after opening the application form there was a field for a cover letter. I never wrote a cover letter before and I had no idea what to write there so I skipped the Google application for now. I applied for Microsoft because of my knowledge of C#, for Intel because they do cool stuff and for Apple just because I was curious. None of those companies required a cover letter so the application process was straight forward.
Figure 4: Android versions statutes in front of main Android building.
Back to the Google application. I spent like a week by working on my cover letter for the application. It is very important to write a good and informative cover letter that nicely shows the qualities you have and what you can offer to the company. It is also important to ask some native English speaker to proofread the letter for you. Twice. I decided to include my cover letter for you reference below.
Finally I applied to Google as well and that was my last application. I was so excited about it! I even saved all the "thank you for application" screens as you can see in Figure 5.
Figure 5: Final screen of on-line internship applications.
1.4 Cover letter
I know that writing a cover letter may be quite hard so I decided to show you mine. I am not claiming that this is a particularly good cover letter but it worked in my case.
Dear Hiring Committee,
I am interested in the internship position for Summer 2013 as Software Engineer which I found on Google web site. In my eyes, Google is a great company with a rich portfolio of high quality services. I would be grateful to have a chance to be part of it.
I have degree from Computer Science specialized in programming with strong mathematical background. I have broad set of technical skills that are required for such a position. I am able to navigate in large code-bases and write clean, self-documented code. Working as a part of a talented team is a great opportunity and comes naturally to me. I would love to contribute to projects that will have a world-wide impact.
Currently I am pursuing my master's degree at Purdue University and am employed as a Research Assistant. Our research project is about usage of graph grammars to represent a road network of cities. This involves implementing algorithms in C++ for encoding and decoding graphs as grammar with respect to geometry information. One of the challenges of this project is efficient usage of many famous graph algorithms, such as sub-graph isomorphism or largest clique finding, which are NP-complete algorithms.
As work toward my Bachelor's degree, I built relatively complex web service for generating L-systems. This project enhanced my skills in a great way because it involved implementing wide range of features such as parser and compiler for L-system language, modular extensible library for generating L-systems, modern web interface and database for storing non-trivial relationships between generated L-systems. For distinguished work in high school, I created a music sheet recognition program. Input is image of music sheet and output is MIDI file which can be played by any player. The biggest challenge of completing this project was recognition of notes because, unlike characters, not all of them can be recognized statistically by matching them against a database. I won a prestigious prize for this project, and its ceremony was broadcasted on national television.
I have been programming since I was 12 years old. My first program was console snake written in Borland C running in MS DOS. I still can remember that beep sound when snake ate an apple. After few years of PHP and Java, I transitioned C# which is now my favorite language. At college, I discovered the beauty of functional languages such as Haskell or F# and I started to use some techniques of functional programming in other languages. During the last few years, I have been programming mainly in C++. Programming is my passion, and the best reward for me is when somebody appreciates my work.
I am confident that I am able to offer the skills you are seeking for this position. Please consider this cover letter and the included documents for an interview. Thank you for your time, and I am looking forward to hearing from you.
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Table of contents
- 1 Introduction and application process
- 2 Initial interviews
- 3 Host matching phase
- 4 Internship at Google
- 5 Coding at Google
- 6 Perks and fun at Google
- 7 Conclusion
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