My Internship Haunt

insights-keyholeSo I was looking for an internship last week on MyFuture  and one job post really grabbed my attention. It was a San Francisco-based tech company hiring for a Programmer Extraordinaire. I know I’m still some ways away from the Extraordinaire, but I plan to get there some day. Even though it’s a programming job post, it brings up some good points I’d like to share with everybody.


Several things grabbed my attention. First of all, instead of referring to the applicant in third-person (e.g. the candidate shall perform menial tasks at minimum wage), the post is addressed to “you,” which gives it a really hip and start-up company kind of feel. After the introduction of the company, the post reads:

“…I know *you* are awesome, it’s actually really hard and time consuming to find you in the midst of the literally hundreds of other applications I get from everyone else. So this is where I’m going to ask my first favor: can you make it really easy and obvious how great you are, so I don’t accidentally overlook you?”

The second sentence makes a good point; companies have one opening and dozens of people compete for the spot. The key point is that most applications look very similar and it is difficult to stand out. It’s always a plus to know what are your strengths, so when the time comes you make sure the employer knows. This company asks 3 questions to evaluate how skilled and useful you will be:

“1. What’s the URL of your website? If you don’t have one, why not?

2. What’s your coding history? When did you start, and what have you done between then and now?

3. What do you want to do with the rest of your life, and how is [our company] a step toward your long-term goals?”

Of course, like all competitive positions, the given questions will be hard to answer. At some point you have to answer these questions, so it’s worth the time to take a look at them now. Questions 1 and 2 are asking for the programmer’s equivalent of a portfolio. Everyone should have a portfolio of some kind. They showcase your work plus your capabilities. You should always have it handy. So when potential employer asks to see one,  they will  be pleasantly surprised by your organization and professionalism.

Question 3 is more personal and determines if you have a sense of purpose. The fact is that people with a sense of purpose are motivated and work harder to reach their goals. And companies like to hire people who get stuff done. It’s absolutely fine to feel lost at times. If you don’t know what you want to do yet, set your goal to be something that you could do. For example, I still don’t know if my dream job is going to be programmer, but since I have some skills in the area already, I will try to work in this field until I get a better idea.

Whether you are lost on your way on a job search or you are working your way to the top, ask yourself these questions once in a while. Today I felt that the path is a little clearer.




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