Job-Hunting with Yuan Gao, ECE Alumnus and Google Software Engineer

Yuan Gao

Finding a job after graduation can be an intimidating task. If you’re an ECE student gearing up to enter the industry, the challenges of finding a good position are definitely something on your mind.

ECE alumni Yuan Gao knows this very well. After completing his MEng at ECE in 2021, he began his job search, eventually applying for and successfully landing a position at Google as a software engineer. As a now-veteran of the job application process, we spoke to Yuan to learn about his takeaways from this experience, and his advice and recommendations for other students entering the industry.

Opportunities at ECE and UBC

“UBC and ECE provide various resources and opportunities to help with securing a job. I will share the ones that I attended.

 1. Google @ UBC: Building Your Technical Career: ECE department hosted a workshop with two Googlers, Lina and Kevin.  They discussed resumes, the technical interview process, and Q&A sessions, and held 1-1 office hours. This event helped give me a better understanding of the hiring and interview process. They also gave me constructive suggestions about my resume and interview preparation in a 1-1 office hour slot. I believe this was the most helpful event for my job search. (Editor’s note: we hope to host more of these events in the coming school year- stay tuned!)

2. Career events and workshops:  This page lists the workshops hosted by UBC and companies, and provides personal career advice. I attended some workshops to help me polish my resume and build a professional Linkedin profile. Companies host events to introduce their hiring process and make connections with students. In some events, employees shared their experiences, which helped me learn more about the company culture and values.

3. Career Day: Multiple employers from different industries attend to connect with students to recruit for both paid and volunteer positions.

4. Co-op Program: I secured my first job through the UBC Co-op program. There are many available job opportunities for Co-op students only. Co-op coordinators were enthusiastic and professional, and they provided support with job searching, resume, and mock interviews. I highly recommend it if you want to gain more work experience.”

The importance of co-op

“Before joining Google, I worked at a spending management software company as a co-op student in Vancouver for 12 months. I worked as a backend developer to implement and deliver spending management features.

My co-op experience helped me develop more industrial skills and learn about the software development process, which made me more appealing as a full-time developer.

As a co-op student, you can choose from many different positions, such as backend, frontend, DevOps, and cloud engineer. Based on your co-op experience, you can get an overall idea of your short-term and long-term career goals. It’s also a good opportunity to find what your interests are in your field.”

Interview Process

“My application and interview process at Google had a few steps. This is what it was like:

1. Online application: I submitted my online application through Google Career in September. Google as well as other companies usually open new grad positions in summer, so I set my Linkedin up to get notified if there is a new job posting from followed companies. Besides, I constantly checked a repository to keep track of available new grad positions.

2. Online Coding Exercise: After three weeks, I received a response from Google to complete an online coding exercise within one week. I had 90 minutes to complete 2 standard coding problems, which were based on common Leetcode topics and not tricky at all.

3. Virtual On-site Preparation:  I received a survey to schedule a virtual on-site date one week after finishing the online coding exercise. A recruiter reached out to me to help me learn more about the interview process.

4. Virtual On-site: There were five rounds in a single day containing one behavior round and four technical rounds. Each round took ~45 minutes and there was a 15-minute break. I could use my preferred language and write my codes with an online doc. It was an exhausting experience, so make sure to take a good rest before the interview day!

5. Interview results: It took three weeks for me to receive the result due to the Thanksgiving break. Be patient and don’t feel anxious.”

Interview tips

“Some tips from my experience- I hope some of them can be helpful.

1. Watch mock interview videos and practice with peers. There are many mock interview videos on YouTube and they are almost the same as an actual interview. It’s helpful to watch the videos and imagine how to answer the questions under the same situation.

2. After learning about the interview process, you can do mock interviews with peers using prepared questions. Try to be formal and serious, and make sure you completely understand the prepared questions. After each round, give each other detailed feedback.  This also helps you learn about expectations from the interviewer’s perspective.

3. Talking while coding. I learnt this lesson from my first mock interview with a Co-op coordinator. While solving a technical problem, we are supposed to demonstrate our knowledge and skills, and the interviewer is there to help us solve the problem- similar to solving a practical problem with a colleague. If you get stuck and just think in silence, it’ll be hard for the interviewer to help. So please try to talk while coding, express what is on your mind, and make sure everyone is on the same page.

4. Practice Leetcode questions!

5. Be confident and relax. You have been well-prepared on the interview day, just take a deep breath and trust yourself :).”

Explore more career resources from UBC Applied Science