About Women Techmakers Engineering Fellows and Google STEP Internship

What is the Women Techmakers Engineering Fellows program?

(now called Women Engineers program)

The Women Techmakers Engineering Fellows Program by Talentsprint and supported by Google, provides an opportunity for talented and motivated women engineering students to excel in the global tech industry. This is a 2-year professional development program to help college girls build their technical and soft skills with mentorship from industry experts and Google Engineers.

Eligibility: First year girls of branches CS, IT, ECE, EEE

Dates of application: Around Feb-March every year

What is the selection process?

In 2020,the selection process included 4 rounds of assessment- logical and analytical reasoning, English Versant text, Python coding test, and an interview.

I was amongst the 124 students from across India to have been selected for the WTEF batch of 2020, and to say that this program has helped me a lot would be an understatement.. Ever since being a part of this program, we have had sessions not only on technical topics including but not limited to Unit Testing,Clean Modular Code and Object Oriented Programming but also personality development session all of which has immensely helped in confidence building,inculcating a growth mindset and combating imposter syndrome.

In 2020, the selection into the program was purely merit based. The program was not only free but also included guaranteed scholarships of 2 lakhs which we all received. In 2021 however there have been several changes to the selection process. In order to accomodate a higher number of students, the number of seats has been increased to 500. The increased seats have sadly been introduced along with a hefty fee of 3 lacs. While they will still offer scholarships on the basis of merit and financial needs, only around 100 students are expected to get a full fee waiver as far as I know.

Do I recommend the program despite the high fee?

I would highly recommend that you apply for the program and prepare meticulously for it. The selection is highly competitive and you learn a lot about yourself during the whole process. Who knows, you might score the 100% scholarship and if you do, just go for it. 

In case you don’t, it’s really up to you. You can opt out anytime you want during the process.

What is Google STEP?

STEP (Student Training in Engineering Program) is a 12-week internship program by Google for undergraduate students with a passion for computer science. The internship program has a focus on providing development opportunities for undergraduate females through technical training and professional development. Eligible students for STEP India are female undergraduates majoring in Computer Science or closely related fields, either in their second year of B.Tech or in their third year of Dual Degree.

(Ps. I know someone who is from the ‘Industrial Chemical’ branch at IITBHU who aced STEP because she is really good at competitive programming, so I suggest everyone should prepare and apply!)

The Entire Procedure for STEP 

The applications on Google careers portal open up around late November or December. Students can directly apply on the google career page. Some colleges are also directly approached by Google for applying on-campus for the same. There are mainly two rounds. The first round is a resume shortlisting round, followed by two 45-minute technical interviews purely based on Data Structures and Algorithms. The interviews this year were conducted starting from 7th Dec 2020 ongoing till late January. Both my interviews were on 14th Dec, with a break of one hour in between. I was notified about my results on 21st Dec, by a phone call from my recruiter. Apply on Google careers portal → Resume shortlisting → 2 x Google Meet Interviews → Get a call from your recruiter!

How I prepared for the STEP technical Interviews?

I found out about STEP around July and reached out to previous STEP Interns on LinkedIn to know more about their experience and their preparation. My preparation was based on suggestions from my seniors and previous STEP Interns. Firstly, the technical interviews in STEP are purely based on Data Structures and Algorithms, and they do not ask any questions on OS or DBMS. Knowing Object-Oriented Programming is a plus point since some questions can be simplified using structures and classes, and make your code more impressive.

 I started practicing coding initially on Hackerrank where I improved my basic DSA and problem-solving skills. Then, I started with competitive programming on Codeforces and also did the A2OJ ladders of up to 1600 rating. Competitive programming proved to be really helpful in improving my Data Structures and Algorithms, which I believe is crucial for technical interviews. I had also been practicing on Leetcode around that time.

 A month before the final interview I started with InterviewBit and Leetcode more extensively. I followed Leetcode’s explore cards for topic-wise practice and parallelly practiced topic-wise questions from InterviewBit. Towards the end, I also did the Leetcode top 75 and Leetcode’s Top Interview questions for my final prep. I also skimmed through the book ‘Cracking the Coding Interview’ in the last week. And of course, GeeksForGeeks was really helpful throughout. 

Seniors had told us that we should be prepared to face questions that we have never seen before, and yes that’s exactly what happened with me. I had never come across any of the questions I faced in either of the interviews 🙂 . Some of the most important topics asked in Google’s STEP interview are arrays, strings, trees, dynamic programming, and graphs. But yet again, you can expect anything in the interview. For instance I was asked a question on Bit Masking. So I would suggest having your basics strong, and you will be good to go!

The Interview Experience 

Each interview is only about 45 minutes long, and hence the interviewers generally get right at it without even asking for an intro. The interview call was on Google Meet and an editor was shared, on which you are first asked for your preferred coding language(C, C++, Python, Java) and then the first question would be put up with space for you to write your code. You are expected to think out loud your ideas and approaches for the problem given. After explaining your approach, the interviewer will ask you to think more and further optimize your approach. You are allowed to code your solution only after the interviewer has approved that it is the most optimal solution for the problem. 

Make sure to take care of all the edge cases as that’s extremely important. If you have successfully solved the first question and completely coded it out, you may be given the second question or a follow-up question as an extension of the first problem. Ideally, each interview is expected to have either 2 moderate problems or 1 hard problem. During the interview, the interviewer will take notes of everything you say, all of your approaches, and your thought process. Hence, it’s crucial to speak out your ideas and approaches and try engaging in a discussion with the interviewer so that it would be a great learning experience for you and also for the interviewer to understand you better.

How Competitive Programming helped me get Google’s STEP Internship

Sadly not a lot of girls are into Competitive Programming in our college, but this is one skill that really helps in all technical interviews. I started doing CP in March 2020, and trust me I sucked at it. I gave up in between so many times, oscillating in and out of CP. All the guys in my class were way better than me, and this was very intimidating at first, and this made me feel like I’m never going to get as good as them. 

Then two incidents changed this perspective for me:

1. I reached out to a girl on LinkedIn who told me how Competitive Programming helped her getting not only Google STEP, but also Uber She++ and Microsoft Codess

2. In one of the mentoring sessions at WTEF, one girl who’s now at google now spoke about her CP journey. She’s from IIIT-H and she spoke about how insane the CP culture at their college was and how she found it hard to cope up with her classmates. She stuck with it, and now she’s at google. (I found this very relatable and inspiring!)

Learnings: Do not give up on CP, it’s definitely not going to be easy at first, but you will eventually fall in love with problem solving- the key skill required to ace any technical interview. 

[And remember,  ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’. Improve yourself, learn something new everyday, and that’s enough 🙂 ]

How WTEF helped me with my journey so far

If I hadn’t been a part of WTEF, I would have never made an account on Linkedin nor would I have a resume. I would probably have self rejected myself  thinking that ‘Google being such a big company, why would they take me?’. WTEF has helped me a lot to change that mindset and introduce me to new perspectives  in life. Never ever self reject yourself (you have other people to do that for you 🙂 ), and apply for every opportunity that you get, believe in yourself and prepare as best as you possibly can.

All the best! Keep Learning!

Curated by Shivangi Tomar

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