Co-op Quest: 2022

Read the 2021 prequel [here]

Northeastern has a co-op program where upperclassmen spend 4-8 months working full-time instead of taking classes for a semester, here’s how it went during my junior year.

I interned as a software engineer at Snowflake in Boston working on TBD, followed by Duolingo in Pittsburgh working on TBD, followed by Meta in NYC working on TBD.

The Application Process

Applied: 104

Responses: 43

Withdrawn: 8

Offers: 7

Was it really that time of the year again? Thankfully, I heard back from a lot more companies this cycle with Microsoft and ETH Zurich on my resume. Being a junior also formally qualified me for a lot more summer internship positions. This year, I wanted to gain experience working for smaller and more fast-paced companies – naturally I would interview with several unicorns and trading firms.

These smaller yet desirable set of companies could afford to be picky with their candidates. There was a noticeable increase in difficulty, variety, length, and thoroughness in the questions I was asked, compared to normal FAANG-type LeetCode interviews. Now that I had experience, I was also expected to carefully articulate on my work done in previous internships. At the same time, I thought these interviews were more enjoyable as they were more interactive.

For example, Stripe asked me to add a new codebase feature involving HTTP REST calls and JSON parsing as a part of their onsite. Citadel asked me some gnarly probability and object-oriented design brainteasers. Duolingo asked a data structures + algorithms design question with a relentless barrage of followups.

I found that the best way to improve at interviews was to… just interview. If I could go back, I would change my practice routine to invest more time on non-algorithmic interviews – reading large codebases, operating systems knowledge, object-oriented programming, system design, and mathematics (probability) fundamentals, just to name a few.

The logistics of this application cycle were weird to say the least. I began applying in late June-early August when I was still in the US, and most of my onsites would occur late September to mid-October. During this time, I was simultaneously studying abroad in Switzerland, which is 6 hours ahead of New York time and 9 hours ahead of Bay Area time. But that actually made things more convenient, as I would have my classes in the morning/afternoon and interviews in the evening (+ I’m a night owl 🌙). I’m fortunate that companies are still using Zoom for remote interviews and that my roommates put up with hearing the same self-introduction day after day.

I received my first offer in late September from Duolingo (whose onsite I gave right before my flight to Switzerland)! That took care of Summer 2022, but my co-op cycle (Spring 2022) was harder to deal with because ETH Zurich holds exams up until February of the next year. Many companies I received offers from could not accommodate such a start date, and ETH declined my request to take these exams earlier.

My first instinct was to change my co-op cycle to Fall 2022. Around then, I had received an offer from Meta following my hackathon in Prague that was about to expire, which I ended up allocating to the fall. Simply too good to pass up. But that still left the awkward gap of Spring 2022 - what was I going to do up until the summer? I signed up for some part-time classes at Northeastern so I could graduate as intended, but I kept interviewing to find a solution.

After a very long hiatus in mid-November, Snowflake resumed its hiring process and invited me to a phone screen. It almost seemed too good to be true, but they were fast to schedule interviews and I got an offer just after a week. Not only that, they were willing to accommodate a late February start date and end before my summer internship began, and it was all fully remote so I could keep my part-time classes as well!

After 5 months of interviewing, everything eventually fell into place. I would look forward to interning at three places year-round!

Snowflake

More content coming soon!

Duolingo

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Facebook

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2023 finale coming eventually!