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Liu Yongliang
Liu Yongliang

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How I Got My First Internship

To quote psychologist Paul Rozin

The negative trumps the positive in many ways, and loss aversion is one of many manifestations of a broad negativity dominance.

Handling rejections is a crucial skill to master. With a few rejection emails that came to my mailbox lately, I thought I could share the short story of how I got my first tech internship, both as a reminder to press on and hopefully as a motivation to others.


Around September of 2019, I began to learn about web development by going through online courses and also referencing tutorial books. With a few projects in my Github account, I quickly assembled my very first technical resume and moved on to interview preparations. I started practicing off Leetcode/Codewar questions and also reading up the famed Cracking The Coding Interview handbook. About two months in, I started looking for internship openings. I took the advice from a Youtube video that I watched some time ago and recorded all my job application details. So, the very first position that I applied for was:

Company Position Date Outcome
GOOGLE ASIA PACIFIC PTE. LTD Student Training in Engineering Program (STEP)
Intern, 2020 - Singapore
27/10/2019 Nah


I continued to acquire knowledge of different web technologies and worked on my interview skills. Meanwhile, I actively looked for web development internship postings and tried to find suitable positions that I can apply for. I believe many others, myself included, tend to be hesitant in applying to positions that have stated their expectations that we may not be able to meet. It may be years of working experience or required familiarity with certain tech stacks. In November 2019, I applied to a total of three companies and only received one update from the employer and was subsequently rejected after completion of a coding assignment.


Thereafter, I applied again at the beginning of 2020, to 5 different companies that I thought I stood a remote chance of getting in. Long story short, only one of the five replied (after one month) that I was not selected for an interview. After these failed attempts, I had almost given up on getting into any tech internship soon. I did, however, set myself the goal of getting at least one internship offer before the end of 2020.

The light at the end of the tunnel came on a Monday night when I met with a classmate of mine that I invited to form a team for Google's annual Hash code competition. We discussed the problem statements for the competition and eventually, we ended up talking about our lives in general. My friend told me that he was working for a startup as an intern at the moment. I was genuinely impressed because that was what I had hoped to achieve for months. Right after our conversations, I started looking for internship postings again and applied that (mid)night. I applied to one company that seemed like a good fit. I hesitated because the requirement for the internship preferred applicants with WordPress experiences and I had none. Lucky, I applied anyway.

Soon, I received a reply from the employer. After a face to face interview as well as a trial day, I had finally secured my first ever internship. Updating my job application record on the day of the offer was such a joyous moment.


So, what are my takeaways?

  • Luck matters. Without the encouragement of my friend on that evening, I would not have applied for the internship. Also, I am deeply grateful for the company that took a leap of faith and gave me the opportunity. A different company and a different interviewer might result in a not so favorable outcome.
  • Open yourself to opportunities and keep looking. The reason why I talked to my friend on that day was not even related to internships. Even if I didn't get into any internships, I would occupy myself with online coding events and any other avenues for learning. I think it is important to not miss the forest for the trees. Who knows what better possibilities await you?
  • Help a friend out, motivate each other. I wanted to write about this seemingly minor event that was made possible only with the help of others because I want to pay it forward. If you are in that situation where you told yourself it is never going to happen, I would like to be the one that tells you to try just one more time. May the luck be in your favor!

motivation gif

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