Of all the challenges that Olin students face during the
school year (surviving finals, picking classes, room draw, etc) the one that results
in the most premature gray hairs is the search for internships. For me, getting a full time job was actually
relatively painless. I interned at Google as an associate product management (APM)
intern the summer after my junior year. Thankfully, Google has an accelerated
conversion procedure which makes it easier for previous interns to get full
time positions after graduation. However, while I was waiting to hear back from
Google and when I was applying for internships, the story was different. Whenever
I've looked for a job, my game plan was the same: apply to as many places as possible.
Three sources of leads have been particularly helpful: Olin career fairs, expo,
The Olin career fairs are the most natural places for Olin
students to turn. Career fairs have been an excellent source of leads by
providing exposure to a large number of companies in a short period of time. At
the first career fair this year, I made a list of all the companies I knew I
would want to work at (and a couple I wasn't all that familiar with but wanted
to learn more about). It definitely pays to do a little bit of research
beforehand. For example, I hadn't heard of Epic Software, but by poking around
the website and then chatting with a
representative I learned they have their own pastry kitchen, a working farm (including
cows), and have a dress code of "When there are visitors, you must wear
"Epic Software sometimes does project planning in a treehouse"
The companies that attend the career fairs are often at
different points in the recruiting process. At an early career fair my junior
year, I chatted with a representative from ESRI, a company that provides
mapping software and data for industrial applications. I thought I had made a
good impression and was surprised when I never heard back from the
representative, even when I sent a follow up email the next week. It wasn't
until a couple of months later that I was contacted by a recruiter from ESRI
and scheduled an interview.
My poster presentation for fall expo my freshman year was on
my ICB final project exploring simple hunting algorithms. During my time slot,
a manager from Intuit came over to chat about my project. We talked for a bit
about emergent behavior, and then he pushed me to think about real world
applications, especially at a large company like Intuit. After a brief
deer-in-the-headlights moment, I stuttered something about the importance of
being able to find people who have specific domain knowledge in a company with
Looking amused, the recruiter left and I assumed I had blown
any chance of finding employment. To my surprise, Intuit emailed me the next
week and offered to have me come in for a round of interviews. On the day of my
interview, I had a mild panic attack when I realized that I had never had a
real interview before and was convinced that I would be unable to stop myself
from running out of the room crying if they tried to ask me anything remotely
technical. Even worse, one of the turns on the way to the office wasn't marked
so I got lost and showed up to the interview a full twenty minutes late. Fortunately,
my interviewers didn't hold it against me. I survived the interview and ended
up working at Intuit two summers in a row, once in Waltham and once in San
"Intuit's campus didn't have a tree house, but their San Diego campus
was LEED certified"
By March of last year, I had an offer from athenaHealth and
interviews lined up at Parietal and ESRI. I had given up on or gotten rejected
at quite a few places by then, including Microsoft, Facebook, SoftArtisans,
Barclays Capital, Mozilla, and Etsy. I had also gotten rejected by Google twice
in the past two months, both for development and user experience design. Out of
the blue, one of my friends told me that Google was still hiring APM interns and
that he could refer me if I were interested (he had already received an offer).
I said yes and had an interview scheduled for spring break.
"Google's headquarters (the "Googleplex") has a scale replica of
SpaceShipOne. Ask Nick Hobbs, his desk was right next to it!"
There are few hard and fast rules for finding internships
and full time positions, but there are two big lessons I learned from the job
Specific One mistake I made at job fairs was not being specific enough
about what type of experience I was looking for. There's a tendency to want to
cast as wide a net as possible when talking to companies in the fear that being
too precise may disqualify you. Paradoxically, I've noticed that students do
much better when they can articulate a specific role they have in mind. Saying
that you're interested in "design" is great, but "designing user experiences
for mobile applications" can be even more compelling to the right company.
Interviewing Some people are naturally poised and articulate during job
interviews. I'm not. Fortunately, I was able to schedule my less critical
interviews early and use them as warm ups for later in the semester. If you
haven't done so yet, schedule a mock interview with Sally Phelps. It doesn't
take long, and she can help identify weaknesses in your interviews that you
wouldn't have realized otherwise.
The job hunt can be intimidating, but we don't have to do it
alone. Utilizing the resources we have at Olin, both from the institution and our
fellow classmates, can make amazing things happen.