Watch Out!
Student Media
Body of IITR
About Guide Get Involved

Summer 2020

Summer Diaries: Google STEP

September 10, 2020
- Ishita Kaul

Like most of the second year students, I was clueless about what I wanted to do in the summers after my second year of college. I talked to a couple of seniors and close friends. They all advised to either go for a research or a corporate intern. Both seemed rather good options. But for a research intern you need to know which specific field you are interested in. But all I knew was that I like computer science. I had explored a number of fields like Computer Vision, Software Development, OS, Competitive programming, etc (I have been doing a lot of exploration since my first year!). And I found all fields rather interesting. So, I finally realised that a company intern would be the most appropriate choice for me.

Then I again talked to a few seniors (I keep bothering them!) and finally got to know about the Google STEP programme. For me Google was one of the dream companies I wanted to be a part of. So, I sincerely started preparing for it. And after 3 rounds of interviews and a few weeks of waiting I finally got a call saying I have received the offer. I was extremely delighted. I could see months of efforts finally paying off. It was amazing being a part of Google family via STEP Internship programme. This experience has been very enriching and will go a long way in shaping my future.

What is the STEP Programme?

Google Student Training in Engineering Program, or commonly known as STEP Internship is a programme for 1st and 2nd year undergraduate women who are passionate about technology and computer science.

Selection Procedure

The process of application started in the first week of December. In the first round the students were shortlisted based on their resume and transcript. I was amongst the few selected candidates. We were told about the programme details in an informative session after being shortlisted. We were also given tips on how to prepare for the upcoming interviews in the session.

Second round was the technical Interview round. I had 3 interviews (number of interviews vary from person to person) each of 45 minutes. Interviews were conducted on Google hangouts and we had to write our code for the problems on Google docs. There are usually 1-2 programming questions per interview (This may vary based on the interviewer). I was asked 1 programming question in each interview. If you are asked less questions compared to your peers it doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t stand a chance!

After these interviews your candidature is sent to the hiring committee for review and then within a few weeks you get a call / mail regarding your candidature.

Preparation Tips

So, this is the most important part & most probably why you are reading it! So, let me walk through my journey of preparation. I love to solve riddles and math problems. So, when I started my first semester, I was introduced to competitive programming by my peers. This field absolutely took me by surprise. It was everything I was looking for. Challenging problems and coding contests! So, I became an active participant on a number of coding platforms like codechef, codeforces, atcoder, etc. Apart from that I also kept exploring other areas like computer vision, OS, basics of software development and so much more. Computer Science never stops to amaze me with it’s diversity and practical applications being put to use. I did a couple of self-projects, and a few projects under professors at IIT Roorkee. Also, at IIT Roorkee we have this amazing culture of campus groups. In my opinion, working under various campus groups can also be a great way to enhance your skills in different fields. But on the other hand, not being part of groups cannot stop you from achieving what you want. Just be curious and explore! (that is what is college meant for right?) Coming on to the interviews, I gave a couple of mock interviews with my friends to get better at it. Listening to the problem carefully and being vocal about your thoughts and ideas even when they aren’t the most optimised solution to the problem is extremely important. For increasing your problem-solving skills, doing competitive programming on a regular basis can be very helpful. But the most important of all is ENJOY THE JOURNEY.

Challenges due to COVID-19

My first and foremost worry was if the internship would get cancelled or not. I was really worried about it. But soon we came to know that Google had shifted the internship to the virtual mode. This was a big relief for me. Though I was a bit disappointed that I would not be able to visit the Google office, being a part of Google even during these trying times was an awesome feeling.

To my surprise I received a laptop and a big screen monitor a day after my internship started. I could never have imagined that I would be getting all this amidst the pandemic. Now, I actually started feeling like I am working in an office at home!(I created a small work-desk for myself at home).

Another change was that most of the projects were open-source and not google’s internal project. But the projects were quite varied and exposed us to a variety of new concepts.


We even got goodies delivered to us at our home like t-shirts, caps and a lot more. One of the things that worried me was if I’ll be able to interact with other interns and Googlers because of the virtual mode of the internship. But that was also very well-planned by the company. We had regular meet-ups with other interns and had many fun talks and activities that kept us engaged throughout the internship. Many online tech-sessions, with Google leaders, were also organised about various fields in computer science and its impact in the near future. We even played a lot of online games! It was amazing and far beyond what I had expected from a virtual internship.

My project

I was part of the GPay team at Google. I worked with 2 other amazing STEP Interns.

My project was aimed at developing an application which would reduce the waiting time spent in physical queues outside a shop. The project was targeted for a pandemic-like situations.

Every project group was allotted a mentor and a co-mentor. These are the people who guide you throughout your internship. They monitor your progress and also give you frequent feedback about what needs to be improved. They are the people you would most often interact with during your internship.

Both my mentors were super-awesome and all of us had a lot of fun together!

Work Culture

Work culture is very amazing at Google. I never felt like an Intern. I always felt like I was an employee. My opinions were heard and valued. There were very constructive discussions regarding what is best for the project. Each person in our team brought different insights to the table. This really increased the depth of my thinking. The work hours were very flexible and we got weekends off too. Respecting each other’s opinion and valuing great ideas are the core values of Google’s culture.

My Key Takeaways

In the beginning the entire project seemed daunting. But you learn along the way and get better at it. Just having the confidence that “you will figure it out” goes a long way.

I realised that I should never shy away from asking doubts and questions. Everybody was more than willing to help when I was stuck.

Working in a team gives exponentially greater results than working alone. This is something I learnt while working there. People with so many varied ideas and views lead to an amazing product that can be used by millions of users.

Making mistakes is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s part of learning and growing. I made many mistakes, but I always made sure never to repeat them.

The entire internship experience was very astounding and satisfying. I was already overwhelmed by the experience when, a few weeks later, I received a call informing me that I have received a PIO (Pre-Internship offer) from Google. This was an icing on the cake. :))