Internship at NVIDIA 2014
2 Getting ready
Internship at NVIDIA was different than Google's one. Last year Google provided everything from a flight ticket to providing a nice place to live. All you had to do is just to show up with your luggage. NVIDIA was quite the opposite — arrange everything by yourself and we will reimburse you later. This was on one hand less convenient but on the other hand it gave me more real experience of the whole process.
Actually, two of my lab mates from Purdue University also got an intern position at NVIDIA. I ended up living with one of them.
This chapter describes all the aspects of being an intern in the Silicon Valley including details like finding and furnishing my apartment, getting a bike, etc.
2.1 Finding a place to live in California
I started to search for a place to live around two months before internship started. NVIDIA headquarters is located in Santa Clara in California. As you can imagine finding an apartment in the center of Silicon Valley is not easy. Even NVIDIA recruiter warned me about it and she suggested to start searching early — and that's what I did.
First, I was aiming for one bedroom apartment somewhat close to work for maximum $1000 per month (and that's already a lot I thought). That turned out to be very unrealistic goal. After a week of searching there was nothing in this prize range. I thought ok, $1000 is probably not enough but for $1500 there has to be something! There was, but none of them were offering lease duration less than a year.
Figure 1: Bike rack next to my building based on a time of the day. I was apparently coming to and leaving work later than others.
The lease duration turned out to be the biggest problem because the most places were offering minimum one year leases. After seeing the prices for one bedroom apartments me and my friend who was also going to NVIDIA decided to look for two bedroom apartments. That was much easier goal and there were plenty of places. The primary search tool was Craigslist. We tried to google other web sites but none of them worked for us.
On average I was sending one e-mail a day. The strategy is to go to Craigslist every other day and check last two days of listings. All older listings are likely already taken and are not worth of your time. My primary filters were prize around $2000 per month and distance max 30 minutes biking from NVIDIA.
I spent around three weeks doing this routine before I received one positive response! It was actually quite stressful experience. I did not have much experience in renting an apartment and there were some weak moments. For example, on Craigslist you have to be very careful about scam. People may charge you and when you arrive at the address there is no house.
Figure 2: Once I came to work really early by car. I was literally the only one in the building.
I was e-mailing about the apartment with the representative and after I provided them all the needed data she asked me to pay a security deposit of $600 to secure our apartment — so I did. Right after that I told this with joy to my friend:
“Hey man! We have an apartment secured, I just paid the security deposit!„
And he looked at me and said:
“Cool, but did you actually talk to that person? How much was it?„
I said: "Well, no, but we exchanged a few e-mails, it was $600." He responded: "Nice, so we just lost $600 to a scam, right?" :D :D Anyways, it turned out to be OK so we were happy.
The apartment we found was for $2100 per month plus utilities around $100 per month. It was 6.7 km (4.2 mi) far from NVIDIA which is around 20 minutes on bike or 10 minutes by car.
2.2 Relocation to California
NVIDIA offers two options for relocation: airplane or car. My friend had a car and it is very, very convenient to have a car so we decided to drive it (and us) there. We study at Purdue University in Indiana which is around 4000 km (2500 mi) from NVIDIA. Yeah, like five days of driving or so.
“The bad part about driving for five days is that your butt hurts. The good part is that you have a great opportunity to see a piece of beautiful world!„
... and also that NVIDIA pays for the fuel, food, and hotels. We planned the route around some national parks so we get to see some beauty of USA. Trip there (and back) was really great experience. It was so nice that I have dedicated whole Chapter 5 Traveling around California to it.
On the side note: NVIDIA do not reimburse other means of transport like a train or one way airplane tickets.
2.3 Emergency motel for the first week
The bad part about our lease was that it was starting a week after our internship. To overcome the first week we spent it in one of the cheapest motels nearby. The motel was around $70 per night and it was alright but some cockroaches were kind of ruining the experience. Also, never trust "High-speed Wi-Fi" at cheap motels! We paid for it and it was soooo slooow.
My friend was leaving money as a tip for cleaning every day but first few days they did not take it. They were probably not used to tips in this motel level. Eventually they took it maybe because of the message he included with the tip.
Figure 3: A tip at the motel where we stayed for the first week.
2.4 Furnishing of apartment
Finally, after a week in motel we moved in to our new apartment. Believe it or not but we did not know if it is furnished of not. I was hoping that there will be at least a bed or something to sleep on like a sofa. Well, it was not furnished. There was nothing there, not even lights. The apartment had just two bedrooms, living room, kitchen, and bathroom.
Seeing the emptiness of our place we went shopping immediately. Our first bet was furniture rental. We thought that it has to be way cheaper and more convenient to rent two beds and two tables than to buy them. After a quick online search we found some places so we went there. We visited around three places and our assumption about price turned out that we were very wrong.
“Rental of furniture for bedroom and study room was around $400 per month.„
That was not acceptable for us so we went to Target. We wanted to buy a bed, table and chair. Actual beds are expensive so we were thinking to buy just a mattress and put it on the ground — not optimal solution but good enough for three months. However, mattress turned out to be expensive as well and we would not be able to bring it home in our car. Finally, one my friend suggested me to buy an inflatable bed and that actually worked out very well for us. In Target we also bought first round of supplies as well as kitchen stuff such as pan and pot.
|Inflatable bed (queen size)||$60|
|Plate + silverware||$15|
|Trash + bags||$20|
Figure 4: Shopping list
For table and chair we went to the IKEA store. For those of you who do not know IKEA, it is a furniture store that sells everything in small pieces and you have to assemble it at home. For example if you want to buy a table you go to a show room and choose table top and then legs. You have to write down a part number for both parts and then you go to a big warehouse where you find your parts and put them on your cart. The good part is that stuff there is cheap and small — perfect for us! We bought nice and relatively cheap tables, chairs, and some other little stuff there.
For complete shopping list with prices see Figure 4. The point is that I have bought everything and I spent amount of money equal to one month of furniture rental.
Figure 5: Photos from furnishing the apartment.
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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
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