PhD student Jiří Čermák from department of Computer Science succeeded in the challenging interview process at Google. In winter, he spent 14 weeks as an intern in Mountain View in California, the main headquarters of Google. Every year Google opens a number of internship positions for students of computer science, business, design or liberal arts.
Jirka, how did you find this offer?
On the Google webpage, which contains all the information about their job offers. The hiring process and the internships take place through the whole year.
What is the interview process like?
The candidates provide their CV, transcript, previous work experience and a list of topics they are interested in. Two 45 minutes long technical phone interviews follow. The candidate is required to implement a solution to some given problem using Java, C++ or Python in a GoogleDoc shared with the interviewer. The interviewer asks additional questions and modifies the discussed problem, when the current solution is satisfactory. After approximately 2 weeks the candidate gets notification of the result of these interviews. If he passes, interviews with team leaders of projects relevant to the candidate's background follow. Additional technical questions related to the project can be expected. After each interview, both sides inform the recruiter whether they are interested in cooperation. This continues until mutual interested is stated or the time window of cca 6 weeks runs out. In my case, I was accepted by the third team leader. Visa arrangements, background check, apartment hunt, etc. follow.
Is there a strong competition?
Yes. There are no official statistics, but according to some unofficial sources, the company accepts only small percentage of interested candidates.
Why did you choose Mountain View?
I prefer this location, since it is the main, and therefore the largest headquarters of Google. However, the final location was determined by the location of the team I will work with.
What did you work on?
I worked on detection of pedestrians and cyclists in images using deep convolutional network.
What was the work like? Did you work as a part of some team?
I was part of the Google Brain team, however since the project was still slightly experimental, I collaborated mostly just with my host.
What is it like to work at Google?
Google employees, including interns have some serious perks such as free food and lot of facilities for relaxation. Additionally, the computational resources available to any employee are huge. Other than that, the working environment was, at least in my team, very academia like.
What subjects gave you the most relevant knowledge for your internship?
My project was a combination of image processing and deep neural networks so I used knowledge mainly from Linear Algebra, Biologically Inspired Algorithms, Digital Image Processing and Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning.
Can you evaluate the quality of your education? Were other interns better prepared?
Even though the internship topic was far from my main project back at CTU, I had enough background from Open Informatics to catch up fast, so no complaints. I felt as prepared as any intern there. The only difference I noticed was that many foreign students attended a lot of internships even during bachelor and master studies, so they were more experienced than me. I believe it would be beneficial to actively encourage students at CTU to gain such experience, maybe even as a part of the degree requirement.
Do you think that the internship opened opportunities for you in the future?
We will see, I hope so.
Will you work on the same project when you return? Will there be some continuing collaboration between you and Google?
My PhD studies focus on algorithmic game theory, so this internship was out of my usual interest area. I will definitely continue working on my regular project back home, since it is still my main area of interest. So far there are no arrangements for future collaboration and since the topic of my work there and back at CTU differ, I do not think any collaboration will happen. There is an option to opt for returning internship based on the final evaluation of the internship, which I did not receive yet, so we will see.
Thank you for your time a I wish you success in your doctoral studies.
Interview on 15.3.2016 by Vendula Kubušková