Six hours and six rounds of interviews later, I was beyond exhausted, yet relieved. I still remember exactly where I was the moment of my interview, sitting cross-legged on my bed with my laptop in front. I had my earphones in and my phone ready for whomever was to call me next. I was nervous, anxious, excited, and every other emotion you can possibly imagine.
Believe it or not, LinkedIn was actually my first interview process for a large company. Before that, I had only interviewed two or three times for smaller companies that did not entail a process as extensive as LinkedIn’s. With such little interviewing experience, I’m sure the one question comes to mind. How? How did I manage to score an amazing internship at this incredible company with the minimal practice I had?
First and foremost, have a presentable resume. I know this is probably common sense, but I know what it’s like to submit your resume into hundreds of applicant pools and not once receive a response. I believe that other than showcasing good experience, providing relevant experience is just as important. For example, I initially wanted to do mobile development but only had tons of web background. I had no luck finding an internship in mobile, but fortunately, LinkedIn recruited me specifically for web. Alright, so what happens if you don’t get magically recruited and your resume gets lost in the abyss of all the other applications? Well, the answer is career fairs and conferences (which are even better). Trust me when I say how impactful it is to submit a resume in person. Recruiters will get a glimpse into your personality and can even make a note of your enjoyable personal interaction. And whenever you get the opportunity to attend a conference, TAKE IT! By being at a selective computing conference, recruiters are already impressed and are even more interested in having you apply to their companies. I will admit, however, I did not attend any conferences my sophomore year and did everything mostly through online applications. It is true that as a sophomore there are limited internship opportunities since companies tend to prioritize upperclassmen. However, I would highly recommend focusing on larger companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and more that have programs catered specifically to underclassmen. Startups are also another great option.
Work experience (even the shittiest) is still work experience. Prior to interning at LinkedIn, I had a few web development gigs. At the start of my freshmen year, I recreated an entire website for a low tiered marketing agency for no pay. During school, I was able to snatch a work-study job as a web assistant for the Financial Aid office. Lastly, the summer after my freshmen year, I worked a part-time web development job (which I found on Craigslist) for a small, 5-6 people, company at minimum wage. The moneyor credit I was getting for these positions did not as nearly amount to the work and effort I was putting in. Nonetheless, this gave me something to talk about and epxerience to build my skills.
Actually study for the coding interview, and even do a practice round right before. This one is probably a given, but an extra tip I found useful is to brush up the moment right before your first interview by doing a practice round. This gets you in the right state of mind and hopefully alleviates some initial jitters. The first one or two of my six rounds of interviews were definitely not that great. However, once I became accustomed to the format, it was clear what I should be expecting and it gradually felt easier.
Lastly, be your complete genuine self (not a fake version of it). LinkedIn is well known for their irreproducible culture. During my interview process, the interviewers had to determine if I was a good culture fit. Thus, it was important to naturally be myself, and the best way to show that is to converse! Don’t just get your coding questions over with and end it right there. I highly recommend asking questions, even if you don’t have any. Ask questions about the company, projects, past intern experience, and etc. Talking (especially for phone interviews) is the best way for the interviewers to get a preview of who you are.