Vishal Mohanty from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering was among the 50 students selected out of the 53000 applicants to intern at Google. In this interview, he talks extensively about his preparation methods and his experience working on projects which had an impact on millions of users.
How is your insti life and what are the various activities that you take part in at insti?
My insti life is pretty simple. Apart from acads and stuff I really don’t do much. I’m a part of the Aquatics team of IIT Madras. That’s pretty much all major work I do.
You are an achiever in both Acads and Sports. How important do you think diversity is?
It’s very important that you do something apart from academics. Academics are really important but it’s really important to refresh your mind, take a break and do something as a regular part of your life. It’s a really good gain plus if you do well in let us say, some sport and be a part of the insti team, it gives you one of the best memories you can get throughout your 4 years of undergraduate. Being part of an insti team cannot be underestimated. Honestly, I developed a friends-group only after joining the insti team.
What motivated you to take up your current intern?
Of course everyone knows Google. So, one reason that I took this up is for the brand that Google is. Also, the kind of impact that Google has on the everyday life of a huge number of people (like almost everyone uses Gmail and many other Google services) had an impact. When you work at Google, you get to make an impact on people at such a large scale and you get to help people across the world with your work. And that feels really nice. These are the two main reasons.
What is the process involved in applying for this intern?
There are two rounds of interviews. It’s different every year. We were first shortlisted, I guess based on CGPA and from there they selected 3 people. They then had telephonic interviews with these 3 students. The telephonic interviews are basically two 45 minutes interviews, both technical. There is no HR round. That’s pretty much it and yeah, its open only for CS students.
As the pattern of the interview changes every year, how did you prepare yourself for the interview?
I was completely unprepared. Unprepared in the sense, I was prepared with regards to my technical skills like coding etc. I was not really worried about the pattern of the interview and this kind of helped me because now I had one less thing to think about. Basically, I focused on what skills would be needed for the interview rather than the pattern.
How has your intern been so far and what do you work on? How is the work environment at Google?
I have just completed my first week and it’s been really good till now. Google basically takes care of all our necessities, whatever we might need during our internship. It lets you work in a friendly environment, people here are super friendly and are always ready to help you. They are super smart and very humble too. Basically, you get help from every angle possible. I am currently working on the Google Pay app, so my work is to add new features to this app. And it’s really good because everyone in India is using this app and your work impacts them all. Just as an intern you get to bring a nation-wide change. Google takes care to make sure that you feel comfortable. It takes care of your accommodation so that you feel at home even in a different city (Bangalore). It’s really nice, we get to stay in a 5-star hotel throughout our 10 weeks of internship. Since all the interns are in the same hotel, it also helps to build communication among us.
How does it feel interning at a company as big as Google?
I feel privileged because you get to work with a lot of people. It feels really nice, the offices are really good, the food at the office is really nice and its a really convenient for working. I feel proud to work at Google. According to statistics around 53000 people applied for this internship every year and only around 50 are selected. So its a really proud thing for me.
What, according to you, helped you get through the interview?
I prepared really well for my coding interview. That’s a really important thing to do. You should be good in your data structures, algorithms and other things. Apart from that, they do ask you a few questions about your resume and if you have bluffed about an internship or something in your resume and fumble at that point, it really works against your favor. Being natural and honest helps. One thing about these telephonic interviews is that they are quite different from personal interviews. In a telephonic interview, all the communication you are having with the person who is interviewing you is through your voice. So, you have to make sure you are clear with what you want to tell. This plays a major role because unless you can clearly express your ideas it won’t be effective. I started serious preparation for these interviews somewhere around the beginning of June. That’s when I started looking at websites like InterviewBit and GeeksforGeeks. I also solved this book by Gayle Laakmann called “Cracking the Coding Interview”. I would highly recommend this book to people in the same field. I solved a lot of questions at InterviewBit too and this practice did help me in all my interviews, not just Google’s.
Any words of advice, you would like to pass on to your juniors?
Start your preparation early. Don’t wait for your college to start to begin your preparations. Utilize your summer well and you will have a lot of time to cover everything. Be regular in practicing for whatever it is that you are pursuing. For internships, start looking up interview specific questions later on. Improve upon your soft-skills, which generally improve as you talk to people. Start early and be regular.
Author: Hardhik Jhurani (BT-CE ’21) and Sahithi Yamala (DD-CH’21)