Smit Mehta was part of the Computer Science and Engineering class which graduated in 2014. He works as a software engineer for Google, at their London office.
1. Why did you choose this area of work?
I hated biology, so I took computer science in my +2, and found out that this was something I liked and was good at. I have been into computers ever since.
2. Simply put, what does your work involve doing?
I joined Google AdSense team in London 3 months back. Initially my work was to learn internal Google technologies. I assume that’s the same with most of the big companies, and this involves a pretty steep learning curve. Most of the software engineers at my level contribute to an existing project rather than creating something from ground up. So each day, you understand more and more aspects of the big project. Once you are set, it depends on your team. My team is doing a huge data storage migration at the moment, so that involves learning and understanding of all the levels from database design, cache issues, permission and privacy issues to handling of millions of objects on the top layer in such a way that the system doesn’t crash!
3. What has your experience at Google been like?
Amazing! Google is not voted as the best employer for no reason. The perks/benefits and the world class offices create a very conducive working environment. For a new guy in the industry like me, I am always amazed by the scale at which Google operates. The no. of people using your services, revenue generated by the product you are working on, etc., everything is in millions or billions!
4. How has insti helped you with work?
I believe, the overall course structure in CS in insti provides a rock solid foundation for all the basic parts of traditional (OS / Networks / DB) and modern (ML / Data Mining) aspects of computing. Also, the labs provided enough exposure to the programming side of it. But more than that, it’s the company of one’s peers that insti offers. When you have IMO gold medalists and ICPC coders in your batch, it always pushes you to achieve more. It kind of trained me on how to learn new things from your over-achieving peers, which happens at work almost everyday.
5. What does Google look for in its potential employers?
I am sure its careers site describes this in detail, but from my personal experience it wants the following:
1. Thorough basics.
2. Good programming skills.
3. I know it’s a cliche, but ability to think outside the box, or at least ability to think about different solutions to the same problem, and understand the pros and cons of each.
6. On preparation for interviews
- There is a plethora of problems on various coding interview websites. Go through them. The more you practice, the better. Although there is a small caveat here. Sometimes it happens that when we are given a new problem, we subconsciously try to connect it to a previously read problem and try to get an answer like that, instead of thinking afresh. That’s why, DO NOT try to memorize the solutions.
- Practice coding on a paper / whiteboard or an editor without autocomplete / compiler, because that is what you will be doing in the interview. ALWAYS double check for corner cases and mentally test the control flow of the code before turning it over.
- Go through the notes of OS, DB, Networks, Graph Theory and Algorithms.
- Practice coding standard algorithms like tree traversals, sorting, hashing, etc.
- Ask counter questions, corner cases to be covered, range of inputs, etc to the interviewer once he asks you a question. This will help you shape your code, and also lets the interviewer know that you covered all the bases.
- Think loudly. Talk about obvious solutions as well. This way interviewer knows that you are at least thinking something, instead of just staring at the problem. He can also guide you if you are thinking in the wrong direction.
7. Any last words of advice to juniors?
- Try to schedule your sleep cycle according to the interview day schedule. All my interviews were from midnight to 7 AM in the morning (Day 0), so this helped a lot.
- Again, a cliche, but don’t panic. Back to back interviews could be stressful, and even the interviewer knows that. So it’s okay if you take some time to reach to a solution. Also, eat something in between your interviews! Fruits, chocolates! Brain uses a lot of energy.
Kick ass, and all the best for your placements!
(Disclaimer: All views you read here belong to me and not the company I work for.)
P.S.: Final years who may have queries regarding job profiles and placement fundaes with respect to Google may comment on this post or contact directly the Blog team (firstname.lastname@example.org) to reach the alumni mentioned above. The team wishes to create an IIT Madras Network to enhance the placement process and experience for our final years. They are also requested to keep in mind that the above are merely guidelines that pass-outs wish to pass on and are not rigid or sure-shot ways to make it through interviews.
The Blog Team wishes all the final years sitting for placements all the very best of luck in their endeavours!
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