Internship at NVIDIA 2014
I spent summer of 2014 as an intern at the NVIDIA. That was quite different experience than the last year in the Google. This article describes all the aspects of being an intern in the Silicon Valley including tips how to prepare for such adventure. A big part of the summer was a road trip from Indiana to California and back and I will talk about it as well. After I returned everybody keep asking me: What is better, NVIDIA or Google? You can find out my personal opinion in the post!
1 My way to NVIDIA
The story of my internship at NVIDIA starts completely differently than the last year. I was not really planning to go to an internship for the summer 2014 so I did not apply anywhere. I wanted to either have a free summer or return back to the Google. I was in contact with my recruiter at Google and I knew I have doors open there.
Note: This article describes all aspects of being an intern or even full time employee at NVIDIA or other Silicon Valley companies. I am intentionally describing all the details such as apartment search, furnishing etc. This is meant to help and possibly encourage people who are thinking about applying but may be scared of all the unknowns in the process.
1.1 Career fair
The point where NVIDIA came into play was a large carrier fair at Purdue University. All friends from my lab went there and they persuaded me to go as well. At the carrier fair I saw only one interesting company — SpaceX. I went to talk to them but after 30 seconds they mentioned that only US citizens may apply. My English accent probably betrayed me but hey — I got some SpaceX stickers!
Out of curiosity I was checking big companies but there was like 30 minutes wait for Microsoft and Intel, even more for Apple. Google was not there at all. NVIDIA booth earned my attention because they were asking applicants to fill out some quizzes. I thought that might be fun to solve some simple problems so I came there to just try it.
I was speaking with Harold who is software engineer and manager in NVIDIA. First we were chatting about my background and skills but then we came to the quiz. The problem was that I had like 5 minutes until my class. Harold said: "That's not a problem Marek; I will keep your resume and just come talk to me after your class."
Figure 2: Career fair at Purdue University.
Cool, I went to my class and after two hours I returned back and without waiting in the line again I approached to Harold and he just looked me and said:
“Oh, Marek, Right? I should have your resume somewhere here.„
I was completely blown. This guy heard my non-English name once and it was nearly two hours ago. And he remembers me perfectly. That really impressed me because I am really bad in remembering names. Anyways, I took the quiz which contained four questions about some basic stuff and algorithms. I also saw an electrical engineering student drawing some crazy electric circuit so I think they had many versions for different majors.
Then we discussed the quiz and that was it. I was not really expecting anything out of it but I had a good time in NVIDIA's booth (unlike in SpaceX's).
Figure 3: NVIDIA booth at career fair at Purdue University.
Around a week later I received an e-mail from NVIDIA's recruiter about scheduling a phone interview — that was fast. I was still not in a mindset that going to NVIDIA over the summer is my goal but one interview could not hurt, right? I also sent thank-you email to Harold from the carrier fair and guess what — he remembered me again.
My first interview was with software engineer Mark and since I was not expecting much I did not prepare for it in any way. About 5 minutes before the interview I realized that the only conference room in our department is already taken and I have no place to go. I ended up going to a silent part of the building and I was having interview while standing in the corridor looking out of windows. If you think this is not a good way how to have an interview then wait for the second one.
The interview itself went fine. After a usual initial discussion Mark was asking me quite general questions like reversing a linked list. I have to say that having an interview while standing on the corridor is not optimal but fortunately I had no big need to sketch anything on paper otherwise I would have a problem.
Another week later the second interview came around. Again, I spaced-out and I did not book a room for it. This time I knew that corridor was not very good idea so I decided to go to a small place in between buildings. I knew there is a table with chair there and I rarely saw anybody there.
This time I was talking with software engineer Robert and his interview was more about C (not C++). My experience with C was very limited so I did not know answers to around half of his questions (like static or intrinsic functions in C). The funny part was when Robert asked me:
“Wait, do I hear a plane?„
Yeah, this time my location was even worse than before. I did not realize that there were so many planes flying around Purdue and the worst thing was that my spot was in between two tall buildings where the sound resonated and was very loud. The lesson learned is that I should prepare for interviews longer than 5 minutes before. At least find a quiet room.
Even though I was struggling with C stuff the interview overall was great and I had a good feeling about it.
After the interviews I exchanged a few emails about my internship availability and sooner than I realized that this is real thing I received a physical mail with an offer letter. First, I did not expect this coming. Last year I did not receive any physical offer from Google, everything was online.
Around that time I was in contact with my Google recruiter and I also had an offer from Google. So now I had to decide between NVIDIA, Google, or nothing.
As you know from title of this blog post I decided to join NVIDIA because of one simple reason:
“Internship is about experience!„
Being able to try to work in a company for three months without any obligations is really unique opportunity and it is beneficial for both me and the company. I already experienced Google last year so this year it's time to experience something else — NVIDIA.
Figure 4: NVIDIA offer letter.
Comments for this chapterNote that comments are separate for every chapter.comments powered by Disqus
Table of contents
- 1 My way to NVIDIA
- 2 Getting ready
- 3 Internship at NVIDIA
- 4 Benefits and fun at NVIDIA
- 5 Traveling around California
- 5.1 Arches National Park
- 5.2 Red Canyon
- 5.3 Bryce Canyon National Park
- 5.4 Las Vegas
- 5.5 Joshua Tree National Park
- 5.6 Hoover Dam
- 5.7 Death Valley National Park
- 5.8 Crowley Lake
- 5.9 Yosemite National Park
- 5.10 Lake Tahoe
- 5.11 Yellowstone National Park
- 5.12 Mount Rushmore National Memorial
- 5.13 Other places worth visiting
- 6 Conclusion
Related blog post
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. Read on ...