My experience with the hiring process in the Computer Science industry has been hit-or-miss. My first two years of college, I failed to obtain any internship over the summer. After not getting anything after my first year of school I was not really worried, as I had been told it was rare for first years to get internships. Applying to internships sophomore year felt a lot better, as I now had actual programming knowledge and could market myself. Plus, many companies interviewed me or gave me coding challenges, so I knew that I was advancing through the process and learning about how they filtered for candidates. But despite moving farther in the process, I still received no offers. And after not getting an internship sophomore year, I started sweating a bit.
Luckily, this past year I got an internship offer for the summer. I found this opportunity at the Winter Career Fair, speaking to two previous Notre Dame alumni that were there to represent MoreSteam. I spoke with them, gave them a resume, and planned on applying Friday evening. To my surprise, they invited me to schedule a first round email Friday morning before I even applied. I had a single non-technical interview, and they sent me an offer soon afterwards which I accepted.
I had a wonderful internship, the people were great and the work was satisfying. But while I enjoyed the result of my search, examining the process it seems very disjointed. Sophomore year and junior year, I applied to a huge number of companies, and it was only junior year that I received a few offers. And beyond that, only one of the companies that made me an offer tested my technical skill in any way. So looking at how hiring is done within the industry, it seems strange because every company has its own criteria.
Looking broadly across the field, general trends emerge. Just as with most other industries, the hiring process hugely relies on networking. This already stacks the game in favor of those with the means to attend these events and to be seen as a desirable candidate. Due to the bias that comes with relying on networking, the hiring process cannot be seen as truly ethical, though this is a problem that most will encounter regardless of what career they pursue. Despite this reliance on networking, there are some technical tests that often happen during the hiring process, “coding challenges”. These often have little relevance to what you would actually work on, but the idea is that it will show your skill at programming and preparedness for the interview. Though the industry is rife with these ineffective practices, technical companies still seem to be hiring everyone they need to. So I would say that while the hiring process is not the most efficient, it seems to be effective. And really, as we read earlier this week, there is no perfect process to hire anybody, so these inefficient ways will never be completely rectified. My hope is that the industry will shift towards a process that is less biased towards those with money and connections.