My Experience as a Software Engineering Intern @ Google


Hi, my name is Tomiwa, a final year Computer Science student at the University of East Anglia. During the years I’ve been at uni, my interest in coding has grown rapidly and as a result, I decided to undertake a placement year beginning in the summer of 2019 at IBM. The Software Development placement year was one of the best experiences I’ve had so far but knowing it would end in 2020, I thought it would be good to apply for an internship role for the summer to see how things would work in another company. So that’s exactly what I did.

The Application Process

If I’m going, to be honest, when I applied for the role at Google, I had zero confidence that I would get an email progressing me to the next stage in the application process let alone even receive an offer in the end. So when I did get through the challenging, but interesting, interview process, you can imagine that I was filled with a mixture of both shock and complete jubilation.

I eventually got matched with a team in Zurich for the summer and whilst I was getting accommodation sorted and even learning a bit of German through Duolingo… Covid. Covid happened. The company was great however and let me know straight away that the internship would be switched to a virtual model with my project now being based in the open-sourced world.

The Project

 The aim of the project, written in Java, was to provide a command-line tool that could take an old representation of a phone number and convert it into its new valid format based on renumberings in a given country. 

In a nutshell, a re-numbering is when a country decides to make a change to one of the number formats they currently maintain. This could mean adding a digit to an area code, removing a digit, or even changing parts of the number entirely to something else. A basic example of this would be converting the Vietnamese number +841201234567 into +84701234567 because the country changed the area code ‘120’ to ‘70’.

One thing that really stood out about the experience was that my team not only helped me improve my technical skills drastically along the way, but they also allowed me to come up with my own ideas of how the tool should run which meant I was able to take the project from the design stage, with documentation and diagrams of my proposed solution, to the implementation of the command-line tool. With the extra time after completing the tool, I was also able to create a web application version of the phone number migrator which was coded using a mixture of Java, HTML, CSS, Javascript and hosted on Google Appengine. 

Conclusion and Tips

Overall, the experience was great! From coding and pushing my project to a Google open-source repository, to having social events with colleagues in a different country, I can wholeheartedly say my time there was unforgettable. If I were to give any tips to someone considering going through the interview process, they would be:

  • Hackerrank & Leetcode – there are hundreds of programming websites like them but these are the two I used the most. Pick the language you are thinking about using in real interviews and get stuck into some mock questions.
  • Do Mock Interviews with Friends – ontop of trying coding problems, it’s always nice to have someone actually ask you the questions to see how you would approach it in a real setting. Interviewers are not just looking at code, they are gauging how you communicate and take on feedback during the interview, and this is might be the best way to master those skills.
  • Focusing on what you know is okay – nobody is expecting you to have complete mastery of multiple coding languages in either the interviews or the internship as a whole. Practice with the language you are most comfortable with and know it to the point where you could code without IDE help.
  • Don’t be afraid to apply – I was hesitant to apply at the start because I thought not going to a Russell Group University and not having steller A-Level results was going to send my CV straight to the curb. My advice would be to do it anyway, you never know what could happen.
  • Relax – application period is always really stressful, especially when applying for companies that you are super excited about. Don’t let it consume you, whether you land that role or not, just enjoy the process and learn from the experience.
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