mekalika

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Hi! I came across your blog when I was searching for more info on Google's engineering practicum internship. I've got my interviews coming up this week, and I was wondering if you have any advice about the process? Is it crazy selective? Thanks!

Asked by
whosthis

It’s not crazy selective, probably about the same as applying for any other software engineering internship. The interviews also aren’t particularly special; I’ve done >15 technical interviews now (but my Google ones last year were #2 and #3 so don’t worry!), and mostly it’s the same type of algorithms/data structures questions everywhere (See the algorithms/data structure questions here for example). Some companies ask questions about how websites and such, but I’m pretty sure Google won’t ask you those, at least not for the Eng Practicum.

So review all the stuff from your Data Structures class (sorting, tree, queues, stacks, arrays, hashtables, recursion, etc.) One of the Google interviews had a code debugging question which was different, but interesting…

Practice explaining your projects/resume history quickly. The main thing I found difficult at first was, Talk through EVERYTHING you’re thinking about when you go through a problem, and ask many clarifying questions if you have any uncertainties. Even if you feel like you’re going around in circles or thinking the same things, just say it anyway. If you’re close, the interviewer might let you run around in circles for a while, and then finally give you a hint. If you’re totally off base, the interviewer will try to guide you in a better direction. So talking is good! Let me know how it goes :)

Google internship project

Haakon:
Did you end up getting assigned a project at Google? I don't remember how that situation resolved itself.

Me:
Tipp Moseley: "Your project will probably involve combining performance data, source code revision history, statistics, and data mining. There's lots of space to play here, and we'll probably change our minds a dozen times before you arrive. Either way, having a basic knowledge of C++ and Python will help get you moving faster once you arrive."

Haakon:
That looks like a very cool project actually - open-ended, but can have big impact across a lot of different Google properties.

Me:
I'm having trouble describing it to other people that ask haha - "Ummm analyzing data about various Google apps?"


"OK..."

Haakon:
Hehe yes I don't think you'll really understand it until you're here. But it is a real project, I promise you :)

The essay that landed me a spot in Google FUSE 2010, earning me a $5,000 scholarship

Tell us about an experience that inspired your interest in the computer science field, or a specific aspect of it. Any inspiration is fair game!

I spent the first 17 years of my life avoiding computer science. But a friend inspired my interest in it anyway. He is now avoiding me.

To be sure, I’ve always thought computers and programming languages were cool. I may not have known much, but what I saw seemed like magic, as lines of a mysterious foreign language transformed into something greater. But my older sister studied CS, and this was a big enough minus that I didn’t seriously consider the subject until the summer before college, when my friend, the guitarist, taught me Java.

It began with my plans to brush up on my questionable knowledge of programming. The guitarist immediately took up the task of teaching me the basics, in his way: “Say you had the class Person.java. A subclass for Person for example would be a Warrior Princess. A Warrior Princess is a Person with a name and an age, but she also has a special attack, armor, and other things a normal Person doesn’t have. Ya know?”

And thus began my intro to computer science. Full of irreverent jokes and perhaps not yet “real” CS, my informal summer lessons sparked my interest enough that I took two CS courses the following fall. We even almost got to the real computer science. “I want to teach you about pointers,” the guitarist said once. “If you can understand pointers, then you can major in computer science.” The guitarist is fond of oversimplification and underestimates many challenges.

Challenges like the combination of distance, hesitation, doubt, and chance that tore us apart enough that the last thing I’ve heard from him is, “Anyways, please don’t try to contact me anymore. We’ve had our run together and it’s run its course. You have another running buddy now and I need to go find mine. Sorry. See ya.” The guitarist loves weird metaphors and turns of speech.

And I have found other people, other ideas to inspire me to run further, indeed to run head first into the world he introduced me to. The guitarist left my life, but I still remember my non-traditional intro to CS. And maybe someday, even if it takes the 17 years I took to find CS, he will remember me again. For now though, I’m just working on becoming a Warrior Princess of computing. After all, I’ve already passed the big test. I understand pointers.

Google BOLD Practicum Application Process Highlights

Wednesday, September 29: Announcing Google BOLD Practicum 2011:

We are excited to announce the launch of applications for BOLD Practicum 2011! BOLD is another part of our suite of student programs focused on building a more diverse pipeline of future computer scientists and software engineers. A 10-week paid summer internship, BOLD consists of working on production-level software, being part of a close network of students and mentors, and participating in a recurring learning series. We plan to have BOLDers in Boston, MA, Mountain View, CA, New York, NY, and Seattle, WA.

Sunday, October 17: App due, including two short (200 word) essays:

What do you like about computer science, and how do you plan to impact the computer science industry?

What is the most challenging project in CS you’ve worked on? Please describe the technical challenges.

Tuesday, November 2: Invited to interview for the program.

Monday, November 8: Interview date and times confirmed

Friday, November 12: Two 45-minute phone interviews with Google engineers, with coding on Google Docs and MobWrite.

Tuesday, November 30: Moved forward to next step of the review process - host matching:

All of your information/application will be shared with potential intern hosts to review as we work to identify a host and project match that is in line with your background and interests.

BOLD hosts will look at student feedback and preferences, and choose the BOLDers they’ll host over the summer.

Please note that this process requires time and there are no guarantees that a host match will be made.

Tuesday, December 7: Phone call from Google:

I just wanted to give you the good news that your application is now at the last stage of the process. Hosts have already expressed strong interest for you in Mountain View so we’re pushing your application for VP review now for final sign-off.

Thursday, December 16: Phone call from Google:

I’m just calling to let you know that we are officially extending you the BOLD Practicum offer for this summer in the Mountain View office. So congratulations, we would definitely love to have you with us.

Hi Sarah,

I was wondering whether you were interested in a little side-job. We are planning to video record the AI-Seminar (always noon-1:15 on Fridays). Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is

- To attend the AI seminar and listen to an interesting talk (or in rare cases find a backup)

- Eat the food

- To record these talks and upload them (see attached) by the following Monday night.

Professor Thorsten Joachims (Joachims.org), my research advisor