My name is Ebrahim and I am currently a software engineer at Yelp! I studied computer science in Egypt in a university called The “German University in Cairo.” After finishing my bachelor’s degree, I joined Yelp as a full-stack intern in June 2017. I spent the first three months as an intern, and then I became a full-time employee.
What Drew Me to Intern at Yelp Hamburg?
After completing several years of university and more than one internship, I’ve found that as a student, you need to have the chance to work on different topics and not be restricted to a certain technology until you’ve found what you like. During my previous internships, I didn’t have the opportunity to work on various parts of different projects; I always had to stick to one project and one technology.
After going through Yelp’s engineering blog, I saw that engineering teams at Yelp worked with different technologies and cared not just about getting features shipped, but also about performance, security, and design. This was a big draw for me as I knew it would give me the opportunity to explore and to figure out what I was really interested in.
Secondly, especially as a student, it’s extremely valuable to travel and see the world. Germany is a great place to start because the country itself has so much to offer and is situated very centrally within Europe.
Taking all of these thoughts into consideration, I applied for an internship at Yelp’s office in Hamburg. Right from the start, the interview process motivated me to continue. I’ve done many interviews, but this one was unique. It was the first time I saw interviewers pushing you to do and perform your best, instead of challenging and correcting you if you said something wrong or made a misstep during coding. I remember I was asked about database indexing and how it works, and even though my answer was not 100% correct, the interviewer took the time to explain to me what was wrong about it and helped me move forward from there.
What Motivated Me to Continue Working as a Full-Time Engineer at Yelp?
My internship at Yelp was three months long. At the end of the internship I received a full-time offer and decided to start working right away. So I was an intern on Friday and a full-time engineer by Monday! While the reasons I mentioned earlier still held true, thinking about working somewhere full-time is a whole other story. As an intern, you think about being in one place for a short period of time, but full-time is much more permanent.
There were a few deciding factors that made me want to continue at Yelp. One was how much I liked Yelp as a product and how much it helps others. Second was that I liked the technologies we work with. And third, the environment here falls somewhere between a big tech company and a small startup, so you have lots of opportunities to contribute your opinions, and the projects you work on are shared across the company — this way you feel like you’ve achieved something big. Also, given the scale of Yelp, you can start working on a project doing its backend, frontend, and data analysis, and can learn a ton throughout that process.
Tips on Moving from Intern to Full-Time Employee
My first piece of advice is to think about the internship as an opportunity to learn. Try to collect information from anywhere you can. Don’t be shy to ask what’s this and what’s that; there are no stupid questions, so try to really understand what’s happening around you. Share your opinion during meetings and whenever you see something that could be improved (whether technical or non-technical), because people think of you as a member of the team whose opinions matter. You’re not just a student who’s only here to learn a little and then leave. Finally, while it’s good to not shy away from asking about technical blockers in your code, make sure to think on it for a while (though not too long!) and try to find a solution on your own first. One final piece of advice is to let your team know if you feel like something could be done better in the code base.
Tips on Mentoring Interns as a Full-Time Engineer
First, give yourself time to develop. No one is expected to join as an intern with the knowledge of a full-time engineer, so give yourself time to go through the documentation and try not to feel frustrated at the beginning. Don’t compare yourself to other interns because everyone who joins has a different background, and you’re not going to be evaluated by how experienced you are, but by how much you can and have improved. Set your goals at the beginning of the internship and align them with your mentor. While it can be beneficial to set your sights on a full-time offer at the end of your internship, the most important thing is to improve, to learn as much as you can, and to maximize the benefits and opportunities you come across. From my experience, having only one goal of getting an offer at the end can make you lose out on lots of opportunities to enjoy your internship and truly learn from it.