2022-2023 Internship Search Recap
Brandon Lam • 7 minute read • 10/13/2023
2022 was my first year in college, even though I did technically have two years of PSEO at the University of Minnesota, it finally felt as if I was a real college student since I had just graduated high school. I decided to major in Computer Science, as I had really enjoyed taking CSCI 1133 and CSCI 1933 and frankly, I’m not smart enough for any other engineering major 💀. I had heard from a friend that CS students should do internships because it was a good way to get experience, so I figured I should try to get one.
That being said, my first everresume was an absolute tragedy, and I needed a lot of help. Despite my resume looking like that, I somehow got some interviews at some local companies.
During my interviews, it is an understatement to say that I was completely embarrassed in them. I had only had two CS classes at the time and my first ever interview was system design interview where when asked what type of database I would use, I said, “We would use a database in our department because it’s safe.”
It was a rough time, I was getting online assessments from companies and simply closing out of them because I had no clue how to start coding up the solutions. Is CS the correct major for me? Should I swap majors? Will I be able to get an internship? Imposter syndrome was hitting hard, but I decided to stick with it.
I heard about the CSE Mentor program during orientation and figured I should try it out since I’d been struggling so much. I ended up getting matched with a SWE at Google named Noah Park. During one of our first meetings, I asked Noah what to do to get an internship and he told me, “Stop going to class and start LeetCoding and making projects” so what did I do? Exactly that. Jokes aside, Noah provided me lots of career advice and mock interviews which helped me a lot through the recruitment process.
(My LeetCode stats after Noah told me to stop going to class)
At the time as well, my friend Samyok wanted us to attend a hackathon in Iowa called HackUIowa. I had no clue what a hackathon was and thought it was some type of competition where you hack into people’s computers. After getting some frontend workshops from Samyok, we embarked on the 5 hour drive to Iowa.
To be honest, he carried pretty hard at the hackathon as the rest of us were struggling to center a div, but we ended up creating Annote, a note-taking app that transcribes your lectures as well and won first place.
It was really cool to me getting to spend the 24 hours with my friends and see a product come to life in the span of 24 hours. From there, we’ve traveled to places like California and New York to compete in hackathons. (shoutout to MiniHacks)
At this point, I was starting to get pretty decent at interviewing and making some good projects. I ended up receiving my first offer in December at UnitedHealth Group and did a co-op with them.
Working as a software engineer intern and getting experience was nice, it had felt much different than class and I was actually enjoying the work I did and getting challenged. A couple of months of work go by and all of a sudden, I received an email from someone at NASA.
NASA?!?!?! That was my dream to work for them as a kid! The email was from a project manager at NASA named Nancy Hall, she was interested in my background and wanted to know more about me. The interview for the role was one of the most unusual processes I’ve ever had.
She asked me if I was available to help judge for NASA Hunch, NASA’s high school STEM competition and asked if I was available the next day. So the next day, I ended up being “sick” and skipped school and work. I get to the competition and I figure there’s going to be me, a couple of other college students, and some NASA mentors to judge the competition, but after I get there and greet myself I find out the only judges are me and three NASA employees.
Judging the competition was incredible, I got to meet some incredibly smart middle school and high school students that were creating very innovative solutions for NASA. After the judging, I just spent a good hour talking to the NASA employees about life and I ended up getting an offer and having one of the most incredible summers of my life.
It’s wild to think though, how in that one year, I started off not knowing what LeetCode was, or having any personal projects. It really has been a wild ride and I’m proud of myself.
(2022 stats, I actually got 5 offers and applied to 300)