Shopify Remote Internship: My thoughts, experience and the interview process

Shopify is planning to double its engineering team in 2021 by hiring 2,021 new technical roles.

TLDR;

In this blog post, I share my experience as a remote intern at Shopify. I also talk about the interviewing process in general, and share some tips.

Even though my internship was fully remote, I was able to meet amazing folks and work on impactful projects that helped me grow on many levels.

Application and interview process

In March 2020, I applied for a backend developer Fall internship. This was right around the time the whole world went into lockdown. The interview process took approximately 2 months from the day I applied until the day I was extended an offer. It consisted of:

1- Initial phone screen (~15 minutes)

2- Life Story interview (~50–60minutes)

3- 90 minute interview split between a project presentation and a pair programming exercise.

The initial phone screen is a very quick call with one of the recruiters to know your interests, team preference(s), and to answer any questions you may have.

The Life Story is a conversation-style interview to get to know you better. It’s not stressful, and should be treated as a two-sided conversation. Shopify cares about who you are, where you come from, and all the important decisions you took in your life that lead you to your career path. Everyone that works at Shopify has done this interview! Even though this interview is a conversation, it shouldn’t be taken lightly as it’s an important part of the interviewing process. In order to prepare myself, I took note of all the important events in my life that made me who I am today beginning from my childhood until this current day. I also mentioned things like my first job, my first coding moment, what led me into Software Engineering, and also what I like doing during my free time.

The final interview consists of two parts. In the first part, I brought a project, presented its code and explained the functionality in a thorough manner. I came prepared and explained my project’s architecture with a pre-drawn flow diagram. You MUST know your project really well, understand your code and remember the choices you took as you will be asked many questions. Expect everything, as your interviewers want to understand how your project works and they might challenge your code. In my interview, I brought a very complex project (that I put almost 400 hours on), and explaining the project took a big portion of my time. I didn’t have enough time to properly answer one of the questions I got, as I ran out of time. So don’t make the same mistake as me, don’t bring a super complex project, but rather something that can be easily presented in 30 minutes. Luckily, I finished the coding exercise that followed early, and was able to go back to the first part’s questions, and answer them clearly by giving more context. At the end of the interview, prepare some questions for your interviewers, this is really important!

The coding exercise I had was done on CoderPad and was approximately 1 hour long. I was informed that it was going to be on this platform a few days prior to my interview. I highly recommend practicing some exercises (choose the language of your choice) in CoderPad’s Sandbox. This prepared mentally for the pairing exercise, and by doing so, I was familiar with the platform in advance.

First week

A few days before the start of my internship, Shopify provided me with everything I needed to succeed at my job. It included a 16inch MacBook Pro, and other cool items you get to keep after your internship such as a 27” monitor, a keyboard, a mouse, and a whole bunch of accessories you might need. I also received a swag box on my first day, and some super cool stuff were included: a t-shirt, a hoodie, a backpack, and a leather notebook. The first few days of my internship, I got the chance to meet recruiters and other interns, even though we were remote. You will most likely participate in a workshop that helps you with the onboarding experience. In my case, as I was a backend intern, I completed a Ruby on Rails workshop that covered the basics. This activity took approximately 3 days from start to finish and was an excellent opportunity to cover the basics before jumping on real tasks.

Some of the Swag interns got. Source: https://twitter.com/ellypham/status/1306272632413749250

Remote Experience

Even though my internship was entirely remote, somehow, I still felt close to my team members. We met on a daily basis, and had some memorable team building activities and hangout sessions.

Shopify hired more than 100 interns for the Fall term. Most interns were located in North America, but some of these folks were located in Europe, Africa, and other continents and regions. I had the chance to meet many interns outside of my team thanks to all the super cool remote social events that took place: cooking sessions, pumpkin carving, speed hangouts, trivias, and lightning talks to name a few.

Some of the amazing events that took place. Credits to the organizer himself, AJ Thompson

The internship in general

From the start of my internship, I always felt supported. In fact, every intern is matched with a mentor (who is generally a senior developer in their team) that is there to support them if they have questions. Also, every developer on my team was so nice and willing to help. I was able to get help from pretty much everyone on the team when needed. Also, pair programming is common at Shopify, which is a big plus in a remote environment.

source: https://er.educause.edu/-/media/images/blogs/2020/3/er20_1316_706x394_blog.jpg

Final thoughts

What I liked the most was that interns worked on real projects that impact millions of merchants. You will be treated like a full-time employee even though you’re here for a short period of time. A few weeks into the internship, I shipped code that impacted many merchants, specifically, retail merchants that use our platform. It feels so good to see your changes, enhancements and fixes in production.

In your weekly 1:1’s, make sure to chat about your progress, concerns, and address any questions you may have. Use this time as a way to ask for feedback to get a good sense of how you’re progressing! Most people who had a positive impact and wanted a return offer ended up getting it. I was one of them, I was extended a full-time offer and will return as a Developer in January 2021.

Finally, Shopify is growing exponentially in 2021 and our engineering teams are literally doubling in size (we’re hiring 2,021 new engineers, more on that here), so make sure to apply if you’re interested!

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Elio Hasrouni

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