How I Got My First Internship At Google With Zero Experience

How I Got My First Internship At Google With Zero Experience

Getting that first internship can be a very intimidating, confusing, and frustrating process. Apart from the fact that you have to navigate the job search and application process for the first time, oftentimes students don't have a solidified support system, network, or mentors in place to help them with the process. This was definitely the case for me.

My Story


When I was first starting out with my internship search, I didn't know anyone like me who landed a successful internship. Everyone I knew who had landed an internship seemed to have connections in the industry and knew much more about technology than I did. Some students had experience working on technical projects and participated in hackathons.

On the other hand, I had just moved to the US right before the start of college. I was still figuring out pretty basic things like dressing for the winter, what I wanted to major in, and how to work a part-time job and manage school at the same time. I decided to major in computer science because I enjoyed working with data structures. And solving algorithmic problems was so fun that I would stay up late at night thinking about them. I didn't really know much about the technology itself because I actually grew up with minimal access to the internet for most of my life. Suffice it to say, I had no network, hackathon projects, or previous experience.

I'm here to share my story, not because I expect likes or shares, but because it would have made a world of a difference when I was starting out to see how someone similar to me navigated the internship process. I honestly didn't think someone like me was capable of landing an internship. SPOILER ALERT: I had greatly underestimated my skills and experience. The very next semester I landed an internship at GE, Rockwell Automations, and Google! It would have inspired me to know that it was even possible before I figured it out for myself. Here's what I did to go from having zero experience to landing an internship at a tech giant like Google.

1. Verbalize Your Goals


The summer of my freshman year was quite an uneventful one. I was working a part-time online tutoring job, and I didn't have a lot of friends near me. All I knew at the time was that I wanted to make sure my next summer was more productive; I wanted to have an internship.

The first thing I did was to verbalize my goals. Verbalizing your goals is one of the most important steps to achieving them. You need to know what you want to accomplish in order to accomplish them. Also, once you write them down or tell someone about them, your goals become more real, and you feel more obligated to see them through.

There are many different ways you can verbalize your goals - in my case, I sat down and created a “dream resume”. I created a resume with all the experience I aspired to have. I listed all of the things I wanted to accomplish. Given that this was my dream resume I didn’t hesitate to write down lofty goals that I thought were unattainable at that moment in time, my loftiest goal: interning at Google.

2. Do Your Research


Once you have a goal you need to do your research. You can't reach your goal without learning about what you need to do to get there. You need to know what kind of internship is best suited for you? What kinds of things did the people who currently have that job do before they got it? What do they look for in a person?

Learning about the intern process is exactly what I did! I did a lot of research over the course of the summer to figure out which internships at Google would be the best fit for me. I found this one internship called the 'Engineering Practicum' which was particularly designed for freshman and sophomores in college who didn't have much experience before. I felt like this was perfect for me because I was still figuring out whether or not the field was right for me, and didn't have any prior experience.

I figured out when the applications opened up and which skills I needed to interview well with them. I started following the Google Students YouTube Channel which gave me lots of tips and resources about the interview process. I began to practice thinking out loud every time I solved a problem and refreshed my understanding of all the important topics that were suggested in the YouTube Channel.

Apart from that, I also got a good understanding of what Google was looking for in a candidate for the Engineering Practicum. The more research I did, the more confident I felt in being able to achieve my goals. I just needed to figure out how to present my experience in the right way.

3. Highlight Your Soft Skills


Once you do your research you'll get a good understanding of what the company is looking for. Now you just need to figure out how to present your skills in the right way. Believe it or not, you already have what it takes to be that candidate. Internships in particular mostly try to identify potential. Apart from just being a great programmer, they want to know what you're like as a person and how well you can work with the people around you.

After doing my research I realized that, apart from demonstrating that I know basic coding skills, they wanted to know if I could articulate my thoughts well, work well with other people, and if I was motivated to learn and do things on my own.

Even though I didn't have prior technical experience, I did have experience demonstrating those soft skills. I had been a TA at a local high school, I was about to start a job as a resident assistant, I was working to start a chapter of Girls Who Code at my university, and I'd moved to a new country and was able to successfully navigate it on my own. People often discount non-technical experience. You are more talented, capable, and accomplished than you realize. If you were ever a camp counselor, teaching assistant, babysitter, dog sitter, or had any other experience that demonstrated your ability to be trustworthy, a team player, and in general, a good person, it is an experience worth mentioning.

All of these experiences demonstrated that I was a self-starter, motivated, hardworking, was capable of working well and leading a team, and more. These were all valuable skills and experiences that I didn't think to showcase on my resume because I didn't feel like it was relevant until now.

4. APPLY!!!


This is the most important step. I know so many people who don't apply to jobs because they're intimidated or don't think they're good enough. It isn't your job to decide whether you're good enough, and you'll never know if you don't apply! Also on a similar note, make sure you apply early. Some internships take in candidates on a rolling basis so the earlier you apply, the better chance you have.

I applied for the Engineering Practicum almost the very first week the application opened. I heard back the next week and we started the interview process.

For technical interviews, it is especially important to keep studying. As soon as I realized what the interviews were like, I studied for them just like I would for an exam. A lot of people don't study for interviews with the same seriousness as they would for a test. I would argue that it's a lot more important to study for an interview than to study for a class, so it is really important to make time for it.

I did mock interviews, interviewed with other companies, and kept studying. As you know already, by the end of the first semester of my sophomore year I landed three internships including Google!

I hope my story and tips help you navigate the internship application process. It can be scary and intimidating but you are more skilled and accomplished than you know! Good luck :)

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