How I got a STEP internship at Google

How I got a STEP internship at Google

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?Spent the day pretending to be a Google employee #fakeittillyoumakeit? was the caption of my last year?s Instagram post with pictures from the Google office in Mountain View. Back then it was obviously meant as a joke. Little did I know that a few months later I would be signing an offer for an internship at my dream company.

How it all started

On the 8th of November, a recruiter from Google contacted me via email. She had my CV from a scholarship application and thought I might be interested in the STEP internship (Summer Trainee Engineering Program, a software engineering internship for 1st and 2nd year university students). After I answered a few questions about my GPA and experience in programming, we scheduled a chat to talk more about the program and confirm I meet all of the formal requirements.

Tip: Show your interest in the company by applying for their scholarships, taking part in their competitions, or going to their campus events.

The recruiter decided I was a good fit and I progressed to the next stage. First, I had to fill in a questionnaire about my interests, preferences and past projects. Then, I needed to schedule my technical interviews within the next two weeks.

Tip: The questionnaire is very important at the host-matching stage (described below), so I?d recommend taking some time and thinking about the answers.

Technical interviews

One of the most nerve-racking parts of the entire process are technical interviews. There are so many rumours about them being designed to trick you and nearly impossible to pass, that it is hard to believe you even stand a chance if you haven?t been coding since you were born (and despite having two older brothers who both work in the tech industry, I certainly haven?t ? in fact, I didn?t want to have anything to do with coding until I was about 17).

I had both of my interviews on the 27th of November, only 3 weeks after I was first contacted by Google. I mostly used Cracking the Coding Interview and HackerRank to prepare, and given I didn?t have much time, I had studied for a few hours a day.

Tip: If you can, start preparing a few months in advance, before you even apply ? it will save you a lot of stress later on.

It turns out the interviews are not as bad as some people describe. The interviewers at Google actually want you to succeed and they try their best to make you feel comfortable. The questions I got were challenging but thanks to the good atmosphere, I almost felt as if I was going through the problems with my friends.

Tip: Don?t go silent during your interview ? if you don?t know something, don?t be afraid to ask questions.

My recruiter told me I?d have to wait about two weeks to get feedback, and sure enough, on the 10th of December I got an email telling me the hiring committee decided I would be moving to the Intern Placement Interview stage. I was just about to start my shift at work when I read it, and I remember my hands started shaking. It still didn?t mean I?d get an offer, but it felt good to have the dreaded technical part behind me.

Host-matching interviews

Another step is the host-matching process, during which your profile with all the information (CV, interview feedback, the previously mentioned questionnaire) is added to the candidate pool, and potential hosts can access it to decide whether they want to interview you for their team. The interview is not technical and is purely for you and the host to see if you would be a good fit for the team. Finding a match can last even over 8 weeks and most interns have a few interviews before they get an offer.

When I first heard about this time frame, I got extremely stressful ? around the same time I have received an offer from another company and I only had a week to sign it. I knew I couldn?t get an extension on that offer and at that point, it was my only option for a summer internship, apart from Google.

Fortunately, I was lucky enough to get my first (and only) host-matching interview a few days later ? it was a team that perfectly matched my interests and was located in Zurich where I really wanted to intern. I had to wait for the official feedback for a few days (both the potential intern and the host submit their feedback, and if they are both happy, the offer is drafted ? otherwise, the intern?s information goes back to the candidate pool). On the 24th of December I was officially informed that the feedback was positive, and my offer would be sent to me after the Christmas break. It was probably the best Christmas present I have ever got 😉

Tip: It?s not guaranteed you will get an offer if you got to the host-matching stage so do your best during your interviews and really show your interest. That being said, be genuine ? there is no point in getting an offer from a team that doesn?t match your interests at all.

It?s still hard to believe one of my biggest dreams will come true in just under a month. And even though this year the internship has to be virtual and I won?t get the full experience, I?m still excited and can?t wait to see what the summer will bring.


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