To be honest, I was not fully expecting to find an internship for the summer after my freshman year, but that did not stop me from trying. As my first fall semester began, the pressure seemed to be immediately mounting as I scrolled through LinkedIn, heard some classmates chatting and saw applications start opening. Seeing all of this, I figured that it was only right to join the fight. So, I set off on an application “adventure”, applying for every position that I was mostly and/or fully qualified for, and impatiently waited to hear back.
Unsurprisingly, most of my submissions garnered either a near immediate reply stating that I was not within the grades they were looking for, or an email a few weeks later kindly sharing that I would not be moving forward in the process. But, I couldn’t, and didn’t let that stop my fight. While an offer had yet to come back, I attended all of the USC and Viterbi career fairs I could, networking with recruiters and learning about positions I could hold soon or in the upcoming summers. On top of that, I made sure to go to any of my club’s meetings where I could speak with current employees. It turns out that the combination of the two was my saving grace.
During the early career fairs, I was able to spend time with representatives from NVIDIA, and submit an application to intern for the summer. As I waited to hear back, I attended a NSBE meeting with the same recruitment team, getting to further develop those relationships. From these connections, I was able to advance to the later interview stages, skipping past the preliminary rounds. Still, I was nervous, yet excited to take on the challenge.
My interviews consisted of a fairly standard balance of behavioral and technical conversations. To prepare, I made sure to brush up on the activities that I shared on my resume, making sure that I could speak to the fullest potential about anything I shared. At the same time, I continued to practice the programming languages that I mentioned proficiency in. When the time for the interviews came, I was able to speak with an engineer on the team I was hoping to join, to test my critical thinking and coding skills, and the manager of the team, who spoke with me regarding my education, experience and interests.
Within a few days, I got the incredible news that I could join the team for the summer. After what felt like hundreds of applications, lots of rejections, and a few interviews I had finally gotten an opportunity. I loved spending my summer with the company, and feeling somewhat excited to kick off the recruiting process again.