San Francisco Summer – pt. 1

So, this story is long overdue, but I will post it anyway 😛

I will tell you about how I spent my summer in 2015: Interning at an awesome company called Square in San Francisco! But before I tell you about that, let’s step back a bit to the first time I heard about Silicon Valley (the place, not the TV show). I was in my first year of high school, just beginning to learn how to program with Pascal, and I saw Mr. Sehat Sutardja on Metro TV, talking about his company in Silicon Valley. Curious about the place (partly because of the weird name), I searched around the internet about what kind of place that is. It turns out it’s the place to be for tech people! I also found out about other Indonesians (specifically TOKI alumni) who interned or lived there, mainly Kak Veni, Kak Gogo dan Kak Irvan (yang ini gak tau dulu tau darimana wkwk). Awed by how awesome the place sounds like, I promised myself an irrational dream for a random third-world high school student with no previous achievements: One day, I’m going to be there myself as an intern!

Since it was a long term dream, I mostly keep it to myself during my high school years. Once I become a university student, I worked hard to make my dream a reality. During my freshman year, I researched a lot about what it takes to get an internship there through various sources online, including reading Cracking The Coding Interview and /r/cscareerquestions daily (it gets depressing quickly LOL). After researching here and there, I don’t really have much info on small companies so I only aim for huge companies: Google and Facebook (both had Indonesian interns before). I made a good-enough resume (reviewed by the nice people of cscareerquestions) and applied to both companies. Unsurprisingly, it got ignored. :’)

As I spent the summer of my freshman year with zero internships, I refined my strategy (?) and do more things to get experience: contributing to random open source projects (finding a not-crowded one is actually hard, LOL) and refining my competitive programming skill through tutoring students for the national olympiad.

Around September of my sophomore year, an announcement in a Facebook post made by a TOKI alumni about Indo2SV made my jaw drop. It’s a mentorship program by Indonesian software engineers in Silicon Valley to help indonesian students get an internship there. It felt like it was the answer to my long-term dream, and it came at the perfect moment! I immediately applied to the program and luckily got selected. I was also more than delighted when I found out that Kak Veni will be my mentor! (if you’re reading this, you’re my role model since high school, kak :D)

What follows after that was a series of interview mock-ups and applying to various companies (Kak Veni refers me to her friends in various companies!). I applied to companies that I never thought about before, unlike the previous year. In the end, I got accepted by Mozilla and Square, and after a series of contemplations, I chose Square!

In all honesty, I didn’t know what Square is before I applied there. I was even frustrated by their coding challenge in Hackerrank (I only got 14 correct out of 15 testcases, which turns out to be a big number testcase when I discuss it with other Square interns). But the engineers that I talked to during my interviews blew me out of the water. All of them are just the right combination of smart, interesting, and nice. One of them even talked to me for one hour after the interview officially ends, taught me how to do a previously discussed problem the easier way, and even discussed a competitive programming problem that I solved in the previous night’s Codeforces round with me! And I’m glad I chose Square because it turns out that most engineers there are just like that 🙂

Well, that’s the backstory of my internship. Because it’s getting too long, i’ll post the real internship story in my next post 😛

 

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