How to land Software Engineering Roles at Amazon, Oracle, & Apple

Photo by Radowan Nakif Rehan on Unsplash

I had a conversation with a friend (Zayyad) recently, and we discussed many things; among them was what it takes to break into software engineering at Big Tech companies. He recently did it, and the story of how he did it was impressive, and one of my favorite things to do is put stories like that out there because they deserve to be told! So, here we go!!

Taking a couple of steps back before his current job (Amazon), Zayyad was an IT (cybersecurity) major in college, and now he is a software engineer? That is another part of his story that has always fascinated me. The switch to software engineering happened because he was an international student, and he quickly realized that he could not get cybersecurity internships (his foreign status) was a huge blocker. So, he decided halfway through college to start coding and switched to the software side of things.

His first job was as an Application developer at his university because he could not get internships, and he wanted an opportunity to learn. Shortly after gaining those skills, he started applying to different software engineering internships the summer before graduation but without much luck. The standout part of that experience was Oracle, which he applied for, interviewed for, and did not get the offer. However, he attended the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) conference, where he met with an Oracle recruiter who was impressed with him. He connected with the recruiter — this led to him getting another shot at a final round interview where he got the offer this time (if you have never been to a NSBE, I suggest you check it out, there are so many opportunities).

After accepting this internship and completing the 12 weeks, he interviewed for a full-time offer (Oracle policy) and got good feedback that he would be getting a return offer for full-time soon. Unfortunately, weeks went by, and he never heard back. Eventually, he did, and he did not get the offer because the company/organization did not have any more headcount. Going into your final semester in school without a job offer is scary, especially if you are an international student (I mean, you would have to leave the country if you do not secure an offer).

Disappointed he did not get the offer, he spent the entire winter break “grinding,” practicing leetcode every day, and this carried into his final spring semester where he was practicing industry interview questions 6 am before classes (this part of the story got me hyped, it was like in the movies when the hero starts training for the main fight). Then, weeks after practicing and studying, the interviews started coming in — he secured interviews with Goldman Sachs, BlackRock, and Qualcomm.

Interviews:

BlackRock: The first stage was a coding challenge. If you are successful with that, you get flown out for the final round of 3 interviews (2 technical interviews and 1 behavioral). The technical interview consisted of questions like (2Sum, 3sum, and Merge-sort with some twists). The practice paid off because he got the offer a week later! The first one in the bag!

Qualcomm: This was 5 interviews in total. 3 technical interviews, 1 with the hiring manager and 1 behavioral. He got the offer, too (I mean those 6 am leetcode challenges paying off)

Goldman Sachs: This interview started with was a coding challenge. If you are successful, then you get 3 more interviews. 1 of the final 2 interviews (had two engineers) and the 3rd/last interview was with the hiring manager. If you had to guess what happened, what do you think? Yes, he got the offer.

While he was deciding which of these companies he wanted to work for, Oracle came back with an opportunity to interview again. If I were him, I would have a slight towards Oracle at that point, but don’t let ego, anger, or any of those feelings control you. Zayyad did 4 new interviews with Oracle (trie data structure, number of islands, and a couple of others) and of course, at this point, the confidence was through the roof, & he had gotten adequate prep. So yes, he crushed that one too and got the offer a couple of days after interviewing.

Fulltime:

He decided to take the Oracle offer because it had more to offer him as a software engineer. He worked at Oracle for 18 months (where he worked on 3 projects and was moved to another team because of how competent he was). Oracle was a great experience, and you know how it is in tech, recruiters started trying to pouch you after a while, and in Zayyad’s case, these recruiters work at Microsoft, Apple, LinkedIn, Google, & Amazon(Safe to say he is in high demand)

Even if you are happy at a job, it is always good to interview to see what is out there, what you are currently worth in the market, and how your skills match what is demanded. So yes, he took all the interviews and had pretty great success — He got the Apple and Amazon offers and decided to switch to Amazon because he would be working with a core service (AWS), and they offered a remote work option.

The interviews were, on average, 1 coding challenge and 5 technical interviews.

Lessons:

This article has talked about the prep, the success and the switch, but I wanted to highlight some things I hope will stick with you:

For more content, check out my Instagram and LinkedIn.

Cheers,

Olaseni Adeniji (#senispeaks)

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Olaseni Adeniji

Olaseni Adeniji

512 Followers

I write about product management, career and life :) | For more content @senispeaks on Instagram | My opinions are my own