Internship Fail?!

not allowed after internship layoff

Journey of a pink diploma

That’s right, you didn’t read that wrong. Total intern fail from intern layoffs, as in you get laid off before your first REAL job. Believe me or not, this is actually a thing that happened to me a couple years ago. Allow me to elaborate…

The job hunt

Back in junior year of college, I was fortunate enough to be offered an internship position at one of the small semiconductor companies in San Diego, CA. Being a student at University of California – San Diego studying Electrical Engineering with a less-than-mediocre GPA, there was, as you’ve probably guessed, a slew of automated email along the lines of:

Dear <insert your favorite name here>,

Thank you for your interest in <company>. We have reviewed your qualifications for the <cryptic internal job code/position> and at this time have decided to move forward with other candidates whose profile more closely matches our needs. Thank you again for your interest and best wishes as you continue your career search.

Sincerely,
<insert your favorite talent acquisition team>

Table Flip

After about a dozen phone interviews and half a dozen of rejection or even contacts ghosting (recruiters who disappear in the middle of the hiring process), I eventually landed a couple on-site interviews and settled for a subpar offer closeby. By that time, I was completely burnt-out by the whole ordeal and couldn’t wait for it to be over.

And so, I officially became a software developer for the first time…while being paid!

The job

From what I’ve seen throughout the years in the industry, there are two kinds of internship that I’ve observed: one, a kind of intern who is shadowing or being guided by a mentor, or two, a kind of intern who, for lack of a better word, is simply an excuse for cheap hire.

Well…fortunately (or unfortunately), I was the cheap hire for the company.

bear latte art in a cup before unemployment
Turning coffee into code!

It’s not all that bad though. Sometimes when you get thrown in the fire, given enough times, you learn how to crawl out of the hell hole by yourself. I was treated exactly like a regular employee who has deliverables, project ownership, deadlines, long days, meetings, and a bunch of other shenanigans the corporate world throws at you. From day one, I was dumped with the entire software code and was told to deliver a small feature for customer by the following week. With little to no documentation around, as well as no prior knowledge in C++, Google quickly became my new best friend. In addition, the following books were recommended by my boss at that time and helped me tremendously in learning C++ and embedded system programming in C.

The Extension

A week soon turned into 1 month, a month turned into 4 months, with a blink of an eye, I was two days away from my last day.

As I was beginning to wrap up some final testing before releasing the code for a feature, I received an email:

From: Boss
Title: Can we meet in my office at 1:00pm? <eom*>
Body: <blank>

*eom stands for “End of Message”

I thought to myself, sure, it’s probably just an exit interview. Would be nice to say goodbye anyways.

But then, the magical thing happened. My boss called me into his office to extend the internship until further notice. He praised my relentlessness to give up and persistence to exhaust all available learning resources before asking questions. According to him, this kind of enthusiasm and passion rarely comes through in the industry, and that extending the offer was the least he could do. At that moment, not only it felt very heartwarming getting compliments from my supervisor, it also reassured my spirit and approach for solving software challenges were well received.

Two days later, what was then my last day of internship became my first day of part-time internship while school was in session.

Next up, I talked about the fall of my career and how I managed to turn around for the better. Continue on part 2 of this series

Questions or concerns? Feel free to leave a comment below or reach me here.

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