Getting into large tech companies from small school

US Bank / Eng linkedList
Oct 4, 2017 179 Comments

I am wondering what I can do to get a software development internship/job after graduation at a big tech company such as Microsoft, google, amazon, Facebook, etc. or if I even stand a chance.

My main concern is that I go to a small private school in Minnesota that no one has ever heard of (Augsburg University). I am a double major in computer science and math and graduating in May 2018. I have a 4.0 GPA, graduating summa cum lauded with departmental honors in both my majors, will have completed 3 other software dev internships for a total of 2 years of experience, completed 2 research projects (one math, one CS). I’ve been the president of both the computer science & math clubs. Basically I’ve done everything I can in my undergrad that my small school had to offer.

What can I do to get into one of the large tech companies after graduation? Do I even stand a chance?

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TOP 179 Comments
  • Accenture / Other
    obamacare

    Accenture Other

    BIO
    Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
    obamacaremore
    Do an internship there lol
    Oct 4, 2017 19
    • Capital One / Eng ry368kp
      Wasting all day on Tinder won’t get a kid anywhere, but sinking all your hours on some hit open source projects will definitely build a brand for yourself.
      Oct 9, 2017
    • Alston & Bird helium365
      Hey - your target should be to get relevant experience in banking - where you are - in fraud prevention, machine learning as applied to fraud prevention maybe, work on their user facing online products like a mobile app or web experience. The next logical move can be to get into PayPal, Stripe, Square, Lending Club, Dwolla or similar tech companies in online payments. Hell, you should get solid payments expertise and try to work your way to a blockchain start up. Make sure you pick up the right skills along the way. Next, once you get into these companies - Apple, Facebook and Google all have payment divisions.

      It's important to network to know what these companies look for. It is also important to leverage what you already have and build up skills that other candidates can't easily get. Take online classes on blockchain (or whatever interests you and is relevant to the market) to supplement your existing banking experience.
      Oct 16, 2017
    • Alston & Bird helium365
      All the best!
      Oct 16, 2017
    • Alston & Bird helium365
      Most importantly - identify a few things that you love doing. Next, find out if that intersects with a market demand. Work through it to find the next best step. Don't follow steps given by someone else but take them as data points as to possibilities.
      Oct 16, 2017
    • WRKSHP / Eng ⛈️
      He already said he doesn't want to work in banking
      Oct 16, 2017
  • LinkedIn $$$$$$$$$
    Yes, just study your ass off and interview. Be persistent with recruiters until they give you a chance
    Oct 4, 2017 8
    • LinkedIn $$$$$$$$$
      Keep trying and study in the mean time. The longer it takes to get an interview means you should be that much more likely to nail it then.
      Oct 4, 2017
    • Epic / Eng
      KHCx54

      Epic Eng

      BIO
      looking for a software developer role
      KHCx54more
      How can I keep trying after I apply?
      Oct 4, 2017
    • GE / Other WNsn24
      There are other outreach opportunities for you. All of these organizations have massive university outreach. Don't be afraid to approach recruiters and other folks managing university programs (even if they don't service your school), just keep networking until you get a shot.
      Oct 4, 2017
    • Ecova yoghurt
      Your fear? Fuck your fear. Just do it. Cliche but what's the worst that happens? They say no and you work somewhere else to start
      Oct 4, 2017
    • US Bank / Eng linkedList
      OP
      Thanks for the advice guys. I will try reaching out to some university of Minnesota recruiters!
      Oct 5, 2017
  • Apple / Eng ApllsDBst
    As a new grad, you are better off joining a startup or smaller company. Join the big companies later on in your career.
    Oct 4, 2017 7
    • Cornerstone / Eng
      sea0920

      Cornerstone Eng

      PRE
      Cornerstone
      sea0920more
      There are kind of startups which let you learn and grow. But a lot of start ups want seasoned worker who can bring something to the table immediately and there is also risk of doing different kind of shitwork like sales, graphics design, etc.
      Oct 5, 2017
    • Centric Consulting SabinSmag
      If you are willing to work your way up into a bigger company, you can work for a consulting firm and actually work for a bigger company. This gets you in the door, experience with the company and the ability to leave gracefully if it is not a good fit. Plus it comes with a paycheck, unlike an internship.

      Another approach is to capitalize on opportunity. Such as Amazon currently being in the market to open a new headquarters. This is the opportunity that gives you the greatest odds of getting in as there will be a large number of vacancies.
      Oct 5, 2017
    • New dxfS10
      Find start ups or consultancies with good relationships with the big companies. Also if you are wanting to work with Amazon you might stay mid west for a while.
      Oct 5, 2017
    • US Bank / Eng linkedList
      OP
      Thank you all for your advice. I will be looking into consulting. Start ups are sounding very appealing too though!
      Oct 5, 2017
    • WRKSHP / Eng ⛈️
      Startups in general are more willing to take the people who may be a gamble because they don't have as many resources. Try for one that's between 10 and 50 engineers.
      Oct 5, 2017
  • Best Buy / Ops Oiod
    One great way to get into Microsoft is by starting in a retail store - most positions are entry level. When you graduate (after a year of service) you're able to apply to the internal job boards.
    Oct 4, 2017 9
    • Google / Eng rabidero
      This is terrible advice. That’s a great way to immediately make your resume look unfit. Everyone will wonder why you had a shitty retail job instead of a SWE position.
      Oct 4, 2017
    • Best Buy / Ops Oiod
      Hes still in school. Working part time while in school is looked down upon? All I'm saying is it doesn't hurt to have a backup and it's better than doing nothing. You're clueless.
      Oct 4, 2017
    • Google / Eng rabidero
      I went from an unknown school to a top company, I’d like to think I know about this. If you get a part time job, it should ideally flex your skills. (Ex as a freelance developer.) A retail employee is definitely looked down upon.
      Oct 4, 2017
    • US Bank / Eng linkedList
      OP
      I currently work at a Fortune 500 company doing part time software development... I’m positive that looks better on a resume than going back to a retail job after graduation. I’ve had multiple tech support & retail jobs in the past. I’ve put my hours in there.
      Oct 5, 2017
    • Apple / Eng ApllsDBst
      Whatever you do, don’t listen to this guy lol terrible advice
      Oct 5, 2017
  • New / Product
    yRyh65

    New Product

    PRE
    Symantec
    yRyh65more
    Go work for Target or Best Buy. Despite all of your efforts, your experience at Augsburg hasn't prepared you for the big leagues in tech. Sorry, you pick a shitty school if you wanted that kind of career in tech.
    Oct 5, 2017 8
    • US Bank / Eng linkedList
      OP
      There were some extenuating circumstances that required me to go to augsburg. It was definitely not a first choice. I’ve done my best to get the most out of their program there, despite it not being top notch.
      Oct 5, 2017
    • Jet / Eng jetenginee
      I see. I thought you were telling him to go into retail. It's a fair point and valid path.

      My point is if he has strong CS fundamentals he can study for and pass any fair entry level interview.
      Oct 5, 2017
    • New / Product
      yRyh65

      New Product

      PRE
      Symantec
      yRyh65more
      My family couldn't afford Carnegie Mellon, so I did the best I could with what was local first. Now I'm a senior products manager at a massive retailer in the Bay Area. It was an indirect path, but it got me to where I wanted to be eventually.
      Oct 5, 2017
    • Neustar 212121
      Don't listen to this guy.
      Oct 5, 2017
    • Nike / Eng uncle phil
      I went to a state school and my roommate got hired at MSFT right out of college. He was a slacker, too!

      I’ve read this whole thread and this dude sounds smart and motivated. If he’s got any networking chops, he’s going to get into one of the big co’s.

      The separation is in the preparation. Sounds like he’s hungry enough.
      Oct 6, 2017
  • Facebook sum41pwd
    Once you're noticed, it doesn't matter which school you went to. Best way to get noticed is to physically hand your resume to recruiters at events and have a chat with them, those generally get a closer look than online ones. You could also ask for a referral if you know someone working at these companies. DM me your LinkedIn profile when you graduate and I'll give you a referral if you're a good fit for our team ;-).

    I went to a small school myself, applied online, got noticed.
    Oct 4, 2017 11
    • Epic / Eng
      KHCx54

      Epic Eng

      BIO
      looking for a software developer role
      KHCx54more
      Tbh I didn't even read the content of your post I related so much to the title xD but I see you're also a 4.0 student!
      Oct 4, 2017
    • Epic / Eng
      KHCx54

      Epic Eng

      BIO
      looking for a software developer role
      KHCx54more
      The internship was super chill compared to full time. I don't like web dev so hoping to not go back.
      Oct 4, 2017
    • US Bank / Eng linkedList
      OP
      Yeah I’m doing web/backend at us bank, really not a fan of the super corporate culture and the slow pace of banking. Hoping not to be there after I graduate!
      Oct 4, 2017
    • Facebook sum41pwd
      I applied online, already had 10ish years of experience.
      Oct 4, 2017
    • Epic / Eng
      KHCx54

      Epic Eng

      BIO
      looking for a software developer role
      KHCx54more
      Oh ok, maybe that helped.
      Oct 5, 2017
  • Microsoft TheCurate
    Do you stand a chance? Sure - it might take a bit more wherewithal but it's definitely doable. Hunt down the university recruiter (or any recruiter really) for the company you're interested in on LI and give them the pitch you just gave us.

    But, let's say you don't get in at a BigCo, but that remains your long term goal. I'd avoid like the plague most large non-tech companies, and try to find smaller companies and startups. You'll learn a lot in a short amount of time (your education is just beginning after you graduate, btw). In two years, you'll be an industry hire rather than a college hire - and most companies don't care much about which college you went to as an industry hire.
    Oct 4, 2017 3
    • US Bank / Eng linkedList
      OP
      The big tech companies don’t recruit much out of the Midwest, and especially not at my school. I’m pretty sure they do recruit from the university of Minnesota though, which is across the street from where I go. Would it be acceptable to contact recruiters for a different school? From the few attempts I’ve make to get in touch with recruiters, if they don’t have one for your school they just send you to a general “university” or “Midwest” recruiter who is very hard to get a response from.

      I completely agree about the large non-tech companies. I’m currently interning with Us bank and definitely not somewhere I want to stay.

      Is it easier to get in as an industry hire? I thought maybe it might be easier to get in as an intern after putting in a ton of work at school.
      Oct 4, 2017
    • GE / Other WNsn24
      The odds are stacked against you as an intern, there are just so many applicants. It's an exercise of patience and hitting a black hole a lot of times. And yes, it's way easier to get hired once you hit a couple years in industry.
      Oct 4, 2017
    • US Bank / Eng linkedList
      OP
      Okay good to know. I’ll stay persistent!
      Oct 5, 2017
  • Digital Messaging Solutions wUqa48
    Aside from the usual "get good grades", "apply at every job opportunity", etc. here are some realities I've learned over the years... The benefits of a big company versus a small company is that often the big companies have maintenance/support contracts with vendors, the benefits are better and the working environment is better. And by working environment I mean fewer hours, more of a social environment, better benefits and established breaks, pager duties, etc. However, you always have someone looking over your shoulder trying to outperform you. They can be very competitive. In fact, companies like Microsoft, Google and other companies like that are extremely picky about who they hire because they can be. A small company or a less-well known company may have longer hours, you are more in critical path more of the time, perhaps pager duty, perhaps no vendor support contracts on servers, operating systems and perhaps even some "gray" use of licensing from major software vendors and they will often have older hardware and more of a non-homogenous environment. Sounds like an easy choice, right??? Go for the big well known companies? Maybe not. They each hve their pro's and cons. The well known California companies are often times sweat shops whos up and coming employees never go home, they bath out of the sink with paper towls in the lavatory and are constantly bombarded with having to prove their loyalty by how much they sacrifice.

    The easiest way to get into any company is to go through a "recruiter". They are called "pimps" and they "pimp you out". They generally make double what you are billing so if you are getting paid $75/hr they are getting paid $150/hr. It's a great way to get experience, advertise your skills and often-times get hired.

    Two major secrets about getting hired in the tech world: First off, it's easier to get a job when you have one so get a job, any job first. It takes the pressure off of you and shows other people you are employable. It makes you more of a kown quantity. Get good grades. Continue learning and getting certifications. Second-- it's probably not your skills that will get you the job. More than likely it's your enthusiasm and your ability to connect with the Interviewer and if possible the team you will be working with. They will check your technicals to make sure you know north from south, but they want someone who will fit in the team AND TAKE AWAY PAIN. Do as much research about the job you are applying for (you can talk to other people in that area) and find out what the pain points are. You can ask them questions about them during the Interview and it will make you seem extremely knowledgable. Once they open up about something that is a big problem, you can talk to them about your expertise in the area and your ability to solve the problem. DO NOT tell them how to solve it. And BE enthusiastic, especially to the junior members of their team. Often times they have a bigger say in who gets hired because their boss is tired of babysitting them and the more senior members of the team may see you as a threat. Once you get hired, focus on become an asset without stepping on too many toes. As you gain a better foothold you will be able to take other opportunities to sink your claws in even deeper. Take the work nobody wants because, well-- it's there, it needs done, and you will be considered a savior. Make your boss look good, be damned everyone else and they will protect you. Make THEIR boss look good and they will protect you. Anyway, I hope this helps.
    Oct 4, 2017 7
    • SEVENROOMS / Eng
      DEADB33F

      SEVENROOMS Eng

      PRE
      Amazon
      DEADB33Fmore
      What I am getting at is getting into those companies is as much about grinding away at interview practice as it is about knowing your stuff.
      Oct 5, 2017
    • US Bank / Eng linkedList
      OP
      I got a 34 on the ACT without studying, so do I still have to study for my interviews? 😜
      Oct 5, 2017
    • US Bank / Eng linkedList
      OP
      Just kidding, I wasn’t very serious about school/career back in high school. I picked up the cracking the coding interview book, need to buckle down on that.
      Oct 5, 2017
    • SEVENROOMS / Eng
      DEADB33F

      SEVENROOMS Eng

      PRE
      Amazon
      DEADB33Fmore
      Pretty much. Yes there are some hyper intelligent Wunderkind at those companies. Yes there will be people smarter than you but on average, everyone is at least normal smart. I think anybody with a decent brain can get in provided they out in the time.
      Oct 5, 2017
    • US Bank / Eng linkedList
      OP
      Yeah, no I’m not one of the wonderkinds by any means. I guess what I’ve gained from this post mostly is how best to spend my (somewhat limited) free time to best prepare myself for the real world next year!
      Oct 5, 2017
  • Riot Games eJSo31
    Do you like gaming?
    Oct 4, 2017 10
    • New / Eng ndrake
      Riot has a lot more going on at it than just game dev... they have a lot of server infrastructure and web dev that needs programmers too.
      Oct 5, 2017
    • US Bank / Eng linkedList
      OP
      Thank you! I will check that out.
      Oct 5, 2017
    • US Bank / Eng linkedList
      OP
      To apply for the internship it says candidates must: Be returning to university following your internship as a Junior or Senior with only 1-2 years left before completing your program :/
      Oct 5, 2017
    • Amazon / Eng pufferduck
      Have you guys fired Bao Lam (@RiotBao) yet? Terrible recruiter. 😬
      Oct 6, 2017
    • New / Ops
      ITCrowd

      New Ops

      BIO
      i like to turn it off and on again
      ITCrowdmore
      Does Riot Games allow telecommuting? I’m on the East coast and interested.
      Oct 17, 2017
  • Amazon / Eng
    mUqi08

    Amazon Eng

    PRE
    Amazon
    mUqi08more
    School internal research project really helps, you should apply if a professor need people to do something even if it is for free. Get that done and put on your resume, it is more useful than a blank resume from a famous school, that way you are already ahead of most famous school candidates before they start searching for the first internship.
    Oct 4, 2017 3
    • US Bank / Eng linkedList
      OP
      I completed a research project last year on building a cluster computer with raspberry pis and running parallel processing experiments. Submitted the paper to a conference & won an award :) I’m doing a second research project this year on a fluid dynamics problem involving minimization of a function using numerical methods.
      Oct 5, 2017
    • US Bank / Eng linkedList
      OP
      And I’ve had 3 internships so far! So I’ve got a pretty full resume.
      Oct 5, 2017
    • WRKSHP / Eng ⛈️
      That's awesome! And a good start
      Oct 5, 2017
  • New / Other BillyKid
    I know Augsburg, it's a great program but just like most things, companies and recruiters want to do the easy route. Those big west coast companies have pipelines full of programmers that wont require relo and students that "know" the companies. Try cutting your teeth in MN. We have a great innovative tech scene. Tech.mn
    Oct 4, 2017 2
    • New / Sales
      utahtech

      New Sales

      PRE
      500 Startups
      BIO
      tech sales leader
      utahtechmore
      Agreed!
      Oct 4, 2017
    • US Bank / Eng linkedList
      OP
      I will be checking out that website! I’d really only like to relocate right after graduation for an opportunity of a life time. I plan to stay here for a few more years at least unless something I can’t refuse comes up!
      Oct 5, 2017
  • LinkedIn Eucuel
    Go to hackathons. That's one of the easiest ways to meet recruiters from big tech companies and get an opportunity to interview. I went to a small school and that's how I got a lot of my interviews and offers.

    Also Google interviews basically everyone.
    Oct 5, 2017 0
  • Disney / Eng aTkX88
    Open source. Work on lots of open source. It looks great to recruiters. Also start at a smaller company then after 1.5-2 years they will all hit you up so be ready.
    Oct 4, 2017 4
    • SEVENROOMS / Eng
      DEADB33F

      SEVENROOMS Eng

      PRE
      Amazon
      DEADB33Fmore
      Recruiters can't tell good open source from bad and nobody has time to check. I've gotten recruiter emails for my "impressive contributions" that really was a script that committed and pushed random data to GitHub every few hours.
      Oct 5, 2017
    • SEVENROOMS / Eng
      DEADB33F

      SEVENROOMS Eng

      PRE
      Amazon
      DEADB33Fmore
      The exception to this is if it's a large, well-known project and the person recruiting you already works on it. Big Linux distros are the prime example of this
      Oct 5, 2017
    • US Bank / Eng linkedList
      OP
      Haha I might have to write a script like that! I have stuff on my github but no significant open source contributions. Any recommendations for how to find good projects you’re actually interested in working on? Ive had a hard time finding something to get committed to, since I’m doing it for free and all.
      Oct 5, 2017
    • WRKSHP / Eng ⛈️
      I just contributed for the first time ever a couple of weeks ago and it was a product I wanted to use that had a bug that prevented me from using it.

      You can do the same thing. What tools do you like using? Maybe if you can find a smaller bug, you can try fixing it?
      Oct 5, 2017
  • New / Mktg
    inbetween

    New Mktg

    BIO
    product marketer by way of service redesign
    inbetweenmore
    Move. And I say that as someone now living in MN. Move to the west coast and work for a startup. Best thing I ever did for my career was to be bold and go where i wanted to be. It's much easier to get hired when you are already local and committed. You can always come back.
    Oct 5, 2017 2
    • Agero / Other kurious-ca
      I agree. Being local helps a lot, esp when you are trying for internships.
      Oct 5, 2017
    • US Bank / Eng linkedList
      OP
      I plan on moving out west in the next couple years to Cali/Washington area :) I hate Minnesota but have some ties here for the time being.
      Oct 5, 2017
  • Neustar 212121
    Ultimately, if you live in the Bay Area, you will get interviews from top companies with any CS education experience. It may take some resume tweaking, but I wouldn't worry about that part. I would worry about the hours on hours of DS/Algo prep you will need. It's no joke.
    Oct 5, 2017 0
  • Google / Eng rabidero
    Go to hackathons and (a) win prizes, (b) talk to recruiters there.
    Oct 4, 2017 0
  • Neustar 212121
    Study your ass off on data structures and algorithms. Most g/fb people here will swear by leetcode medium problems. Listen to them.
    Oct 5, 2017 4
    • US Bank / Eng linkedList
      OP
      Trying to squeeze in cracking the coding interview when I can! Any other resources you would recommend?
      Oct 5, 2017
    • Neustar 212121
      Leetcode.com, elements of programming interviews (another book), Interview cake is ok

      Make sure you are studying it effectively - not just memorizing (though memorizing does help in its own unique way), but understanding code inside out (and revisiting the harder algorithms like nqueens), being able to code things quickly and accurately (quick sort, merge sort, tree traversals etc), and understanding/fully digesting the optimal/elegant solutions. This takes time and revisiting the problems several times

      Finally, you may want to implement a few data structures from scratch (heaps, tree using an array, hashmap, etc etc) as an exercise.

      If you keep at it daily (less time per day spread out over time > cramming) you will find that your brain starts to process these problems differently, and you will crack the top companies

      Finally, do 80% of the coding on paper. But when you've found a solution (and mentally debugged/run through some test cases) code it to be sure it works. Especially if it's a new problem you've never solved

      Eventually you will begin to systematically dissect problems and process your way to a solution. Start with the brute force or naive solution and then iterate on it and find optimizations for runtime and space. Make it fun. It is fun. more fun than a lot of real life programming (in my experience). Once your eyes light up at the sight of a new problem, it will be time to set up interviews.

      If by then you don't have recruiters begging you to interview on your LinkedIn (work on your network and resume in parallel to ensure you get interviews when you're ready) contact me, and I will help you out
      Oct 5, 2017
    • Neustar 212121
      Finally, a tip is to categorize problems into types, and Deep dive into those categories a few days at a time. Then come up for air and start a new topic, before revisiting the older topics again. Examples of categories could be:
      Heap
      Array
      String manipulation
      Tree problems
      Sorting problems
      Dynamic programming / memoization
      Recursion
      Etc
      Oct 5, 2017
    • Neustar 212121
      I also came from a no name school, had a liberal arts degree, and like to think that I made it (but still hungry). It didn't even take THAT long, but it did take a lot of work. It was totally worth it. In fact, In hindsight I value the journey just as much as I enjoy the fruits of my efforts
      Oct 5, 2017
  • New / Other 520476
    Meet people IRL. Be persistent. Including the real people behind all these comments. (But I'm not on the coast at all so would not be significantly helpful to you.)
    Oct 5, 2017 1
    • US Bank / Eng linkedList
      OP
      I’ve gotten some messages from people on this post already! And way more responses than I was expecting! Pretty cool community here on blind. This was my first post!
      Oct 5, 2017
  • New Jackpot
    Be an amazing software engineer/programmer/coder. Know your algorithms, know how to optimize code. Be excellent at using C++, C#, Java, JavaScript. Know when to use which language. Go solve some difficult technical problems, get experience, or freelance! That is how you get into Microsoft, Google, or Facebook.
    Oct 5, 2017 0
  • Red Ventures tnby14
    Why do you want to work at a large company?
    Oct 5, 2017 4
    • US Bank / Eng linkedList
      OP
      It doesn’t necessarily need to be a large company but I definitely want to work for a company who’s product is technology. I want to work somewhere that makes something I’m passionate about and really believe in. The companies I mentioned were just a few examples.
      Oct 5, 2017
    • Red Ventures tnby14
      Gotcha, I would recommend reading some of Paul Graham's posts on such subjects as I have found them to be fairly true in most cases, interesting one which talks about small/large: http://www.paulgraham.com/boss.html
      Oct 5, 2017
    • US Bank / Eng linkedList
      OP
      Thank you I will check that out!
      Oct 5, 2017
    • Databricks / Eng
      datadicks

      Databricks Eng

      BIO
      I suck
      datadicksmore
      PG is kinda full of his own koolaid
      Oct 5, 2017