In this session of Gydable Talks, we connected with Aditi Joshi to discuss her career path and job search/interview experience as a college graduate. We also touched briefly on her experience at the Grace Hopper Conference(GHC) and discussed how to build a strong technical resume. Aditi finished her Bachelor’s in Computer Science and Mathematics from Dickinson in 2019. She received full-time offers from multiple companies including Audible and Microsoft, all through GHC. She is currently working as a Software Development Engineer at Audible, an Amazon company.
Let’s start by learning a little bit about you and your career path after college.
I am currently working at Audible as a software engineer. I actually interned with them over the summer of my junior year in 2018. I received a return offer after my internship and decided to join them full-time right after graduation in 2019. It has been a year and four months since I started working here. I work for the Homestead team that handles Audible’s presence on amazon.com.
Given that you worked at Audible as an intern as well as a full-time employee, could you tell us what your experience has been so far? How was the transition from intern to the full-time employee like?
So far for my team right now, it has been really good. I work as a full-stack developer where I have been learning a lot of new technologies. My team members right now are very supportive and willing to help me with any questions that I have. I feel that it is very important to understand that a lot of tech applications we use were written years ago, so it’s nearly impossible for anyone person to understand what’s going on without help from other team members.
In terms of my transition, I would say it has been fairly smooth. Even though I interned with a different team, the knowledge that I gained during the internship about Amazon’s tech stack helped me greatly.
As you mentioned, there is a lot to learn. Is there any advice that you would like to give current college seniors who are a couple of months away from graduating and starting their first job?
That is a great question. I want to answer the question in two parts: For college seniors, I would advise them to take it slow. When you start your first job, you might feel like you need to work a lot and finish lots of tasks quickly to impress everybody. But that is not true. Give yourself enough time to learn and spend time exploring all the tools that are available. I see a lot of people trying to focus on completing a task as quickly as possible and sometimes, even completing it without actually understanding the intricate details of the task. So for new graduates, I would say it’s okay to take time to learn and explore around. Another thing I would suggest them to focus on is professionalism. The level of professionalism expected in the workplace is different than what’s expected in college. I have seen students having a slight difficulty transitioning from a casual place like college to a more formal professional workplace. So keep in mind the things that are appropriate for the workplace and things that are not. It is completely understandable that new grads find this transition a little difficult but just something to keep in mind.
Tips for First Job
- Give yourself enough time to learn and spend time exploring all the tools that are available.
- Work on your professionalism. Keep in mind about the things that are appropriate for the workplace and things that are not.
For college students in general, I would advise them to spend some time working on personal projects or anything that they find interesting. It can be open-source, personal projects, or group projects with friends. I feel that working in a team setting is the best way to get a feel of how working in an actual job would feel like.
Let’s go back in time when you were in college and recall what your job search/internship search experience was like. Was there any specific thing, a strategy that worked for you? Particularly, how did you land your internships/job?
I prepared for the interviews using Leetcode. I practiced a lot so that I would be confident enough to go out there and solve the problems in front of an interviewer. Having said that, I feel like you will never ever feel fully prepared even if you have completed hundreds of problems. This feeling shouldn’t stop you from applying to jobs. Apart from Leetcode, I also went through some design problems from Cracking the coding interview book. One thing that really helped me was pairing up with friends to solve problems. Although I wished I had done that more, even just a couple of sessions of problem-solving with my friends improved the way I approached a problem and helped me with my explanation skills. So I really encourage students to do that as well.
Interview Prep Tip
Find a interview buddy. Practicing Leetcode problems with a friend will improve your explanation skills.
In terms of job search, I sent hundreds of applications online and barely heard from anyone. The way I landed my internship was actually through the Grace Hopper Conference. There were lots of companies recruiting in the GHC’s career fair so I went to the companies that I was interested in and provided them my resume, talked about myself and then told them about my interests. Some companies actually called me for interviews right away, some took a while to get back to me while some didn’t get back at all. For Audible, I was recruited through a networking event and not the actual career fair. I was simply talking to their engineers and learning about their experience when they took my resume. I received the HackerRank challenge from them right after the conference. I guess you never know when it’s going to work out for you!
What was the interview experience like for you with Audible?
For me, I initially had a HackerRank test which was a 45 mins long test. It was a coding problem followed by some multiple-choice questions. After that, I had two technical interviews on the phone. These interviews were focused on algorithmic problems as well as a few questions that revolved around my resume. The final round was an interview with 2 managers from the teams that I chose to intern with. That was interesting because it was not just them interviewing me but also me interviewing them, in that I got to learn about the team and select which team I wanted to join. I received an offer shortly after the final interview. Since this was two years ago, the process might be slightly different now.
You mentioned that you landed your internship through GHC. Given you have attended GHC Conference twice, is there any advice you would like to share with our students who plan to attend GHC?
Definitely! Grace Hopper Conference is one of the best ways to meet recruiters from companies that you are interested in and get interviews(and sometimes offer) right away. Here are a few advice that I can think of based on my experience:
- Make sure you upload your resume in the GHC database prior to the conference. Companies usually go through the database prior to the conference and might schedule interviews prior to or during the conference.
- Have both digital and physical copies of your resume handy. Some companies may collect a physical copy, some might take pictures and some might ask for a digital copy.
- There are hundreds of companies attending the career fair – so create a list of companies that you plan on visiting upfront. All the companies who are attending will be listed on the GHC app or their website.
- If you have time, try attending networking events and technical workshops from companies you are interested in. They are very resourceful and you will meet a lot of people who you wouldn’t have otherwise.
- Make sure you have the elevator pitch ready (60 seconds) that you are going to use as a starting conversation.
- Make sure you upload your resume in GHC database prior to conference.
- Have both digital and physical copy of your resume handy.
- Create a list of companies that you plan on visiting upfront.
- If you have time, try attending networking events and technical workshops from companies you are interested in.
- Make sure you have the elevator pitch ready.
Question from students: What are some of the ways that we can build the technical aspect of our resume, especially if we don’t have experience directly working through an internship, job, or for any company?
I have been in a similar situation and what I did was list all my coursework that portrays my skills in computer science well. Apart from this, I incorporated my school projects. I would recommend not adding all the class projects/labs that you work on in your classes but rather add a project that you have spent more than 2 to 3 weeks on. If you have personal projects even better. Your projects do not have to be big or revolutionary – it could be a clone app or a small feature that you worked on. I would say incorporate all those in the resume.
Apart from that, I would also recommend students to attend hackathons. Hackathons are a great way to work on exciting projects in a team setting and build your resume quickly. I had friends who attended a few hackathons and had amazing projects in their resume. You can simply go to 2-3 hackathons a year and have enough projects to build a solid technical resume.
Technical Resume Tips
- If you don’t have personal projects, you can add school projects/labs in your resume. Don’t add every single project – pick 2-3 projects that you have spent most time on.
- Attend Hackathons! Hackathons are great way to work on exciting projects in a group and build your resume quickly.
Before we end this conversation, is there any advice that you would like to share with students in terms of job search, networking, or anything that you think will help in their career path?
Don’t hesitate to apply for jobs/internships simply because a company has a good reputation and you feel that you cannot get past the interviews. This is also true the other way round – apply to companies that you do not hear as often about. I applied to various types of companies because you never know which might actually work for you the best in terms of culture fit. Many people suggest only applying to companies that you like but I personally feel that you will never know what you like unless you have actually worked for them or talked to employees from those companies.
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this post are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.
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