This is a summary of my experience finding a co-op during my middler year at Northeastern.
Here are some stats.
First interview: 8/16 10:30 am PST
Last offer signed: 11/23 9:42 am PST
Companies applied to: 30+
Companies interviewed with: 15
Homework challenges: 6
Total phone interviews: 20
Total offers: 9
Offers accepted: 3
Total hours dedicated: ???
As a part of Northeastern's co-op program, I have the opportunity to take 8 months off school for internships/co-op. I was on the hunt for either a long co-op or a few shorter internships starting January 2017. (Info about the co-op program here)
The recruiting season kicked off last summer after attending the Greylock Techfair. It's a career fair in the Bay Area that you have to apply and get invited to. Since the number of attendees was limited, it was pretty easy to talk with companies. I also went to Internapalooza but there were way too many eager interns to be useful (though I did get a lifetime supply of T-shirts).
Although the Techfair put me in touch with a lot of companies, my technical abilities were definitely not up to par. I spoke with Asana, Airbnb, Coursera, Doordash, Pinterest, and Quora but was unable to get past the interview stage. This was a wake up call for me to study.
Being a sheltered CE student a year before, I was blissfully unaware of what Cracking the Coding Interview and Leetcode were. I was never pressured to practice any graph or dynamic programming problems. In order catch up, my classes were placed on the back-burners and I began spending a few hours everyday on Leetcode.
By early October, I was feeling a lot more confident in my technical abilities and had interviews set up with Google and Microsoft. I was also in contact with Facebook through an on campus event, Snap through their recruiting event "Snapweek", and Dropbox through a referral from a friend's sister. I applied to ~15 other companies but had not heard back. Northeastern's own co-op recruiting cycle was also beginning to ramp up at this time, putting me in touch with companies local to Boston.
After a few weeks, I heard back from both Microsoft and Google with good news. Microsoft gave me 2 weeks to decide whereas I was placed into the abyss that is Google host matching (up to 6 weeks of waiting!). At this time, I was midway through Snap's, Dropbox's, and Facebook's processes and was scheduling onsite/phone interviews. I also had a few onsites with a few Boston startups and a hedge fund.
The day before my Microsoft deadline, I was still waiting (and about to give up on) Google's host matching. I had final interviews lined up for Snap, Facebook, and Dropbox and had a few offers from various companies in Boston. Microsoft was adamant on not extending their deadline so I regrettably turned the offer down.
The week after, I was rejected by Facebook. And due to scheduling issues, my final Snap and Dropbox interviews were quite delayed. I continued to double down and turn down expiring offers in hopes of working at a Unicorn.
I wasn't stressed for long, as I soon got a call from Google with an interested host and good news from Snap. Both were open to 16 week internships, filling up my 8 months off. I turned down everywhere else with only a Dropbox onsite a few days after.
I felt very confident going into my Dropbox interview and soon had all three offers to choose from. I had a 16 week winter offer for Google in Cambridge, a 16 week summer offer for Snap in LA, and a 12 week summer offer for Dropbox in SF or NYC. It was very difficult to choose between as I have always wanted to experience working for Google but am very interested in the product at Snap and Dropbox.
And so... I had the crazy idea of doing all three. In order to do so, I needed to shorten Google below their 12 week minimum to 11 weeks. I also needed to shorten Snap to 12 weeks and move the start date from the summer to the middle of spring. This would allow me to work from 1/9 - 9/8 with no breaks in between the 3 internships.
The situation was extremely stressful due to the fact that if either Google or Snap were unable to make the changes, I would have to go back on what I said and return to the 16 week internships. Deadlines were approaching and to make matters worse, this was the week before Thanksgiving so responses were slow. All I could do was send some emails and wait.
Then, two days before Thanksgiving and after a week of worrying, I was given the okay from both Google and Snap. It would be possible for me to work at all three companies in 35 weeks! I immediately signed all 3 offers and was able to fully enjoy my Thanksgiving break.