Between my new role as chapter co-leader with Girl Develop It San Diego and starting my internship at Qualcomm, I’ve been extremely busy. I missed being busy though. The “worst part” about it is rejoining the rat race called rush hour; a commute that should take 20 minutes easily turns into an hour. But honestly, it’s worth every bumper-to-bumper minute. I absolutely love working at Qualcomm and wish my internship would never end.
Today is the start of my third week here and I’m still geeking out at every turn. There are literally robots rolling around on their main campus, among their “little city” of smart buildings. I’m calling it a city because there are so many buildings that they offer free shuttle services to get you to and from. There are cafeterias which grow their own produce in the campus gardens, food trucks and bagged lunch services, gyms, pools and fitness classes, museums, libraries, and even an on-site medical facility! The quality of life is incredible here. I have met several employees who have worked at Qualcomm for 8 -10 years. And at least three people on my team have been here for double that amount of time! This usually blows my mind anywhere else but after getting comfy here and learning about this company, its innovations and culture, I’d probably never leave either! Qualcomm is an inspiring place to be and I’m honored to have been selected for this opportunity. Additionally, knowing that this is probably a once in a lifetime chance for me, I literally sign up for everything! Some of the supplemental intern activities include: tech talks, a series of talks by the executive team, volunteer activities, classes (about drones, android development, dragon boards, robots, etc.), surfing lessons and a 16-hour mobile hackathon. Majority of the other interns I’ve met are young (19 years old) and are still in school, bright eyed and bushy tailed. But here I am; I graduated 7 years ago, was recently laid off, and I’m in the midst of attempting a career change at 29 years old. Though I don't consider myself "old"... yet, I know that I don't fit in with their traditional intern demographics. So again, my level of gratitude for this experience is indescribable. I intend to make the most out of every second.
I’ve been meaning to blog a weekly check-in to share this point of my life with you. I’ll have to be careful though, as I’ve signed a proprietary agreement. If you’ve been hanging around here then you know I like my screenshots, but I won’t be doing that for this series. Instead, for my first #QCintern2016 blog post, I’m going to do this Q&A style. I collected these questions via frequently asked in-person convos, Twitter and personal e-mails I've received. If you have additional questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below and/or follow me on Twitter for when I make the next all-call.
1) How did I find this opportunity?
a. Although you can find internship opportunities directly on Qualcomm’s website, from my experience it seems like most of them require you to be a college student. I graduated from UCSD in 2009 so whether it was luck or fate, I’m thankful I got involved with Girl Develop It (GDI), through which this opportunity presented itself. Qualcomm is one of GDISD’s biggest sponsors but this is the first time they’ve offered internships to our members, (I think). I joined GDI about a year ago as a “student” to learn more about development. I was a recipient of their Front End Development scholarship, which allowed me to take a 6 month series of their classes at no expense, under the agreement of attending them all. The intern opportunity was originally announced about two or three months into the series, being limited to the scholarship recipients. Additionally at the time of announcement, only three of the scholarship recipients would be chosen. But I am proud to report that all seven of the recipients were placed! What an incredible opportunity for us all, one that reflects the values of Qualcomm! As a career changer, I know how valuable this experience is. Breaking into a new industry with limited relatable professional experience is a challenge. As a newly appointed co-leader of GDI, I look forward to offering such opportunities to others and getting other companies involved in our internship program too.
2) What was the application/interview process like?
a. I applied via Girl Develop it, not Qualcomm, which was done online in a short essay style format. There were multiple questions aimed at getting to know you, your background, and aspirations. After a month or so of consideration, I was invited to technical phone interview with three different teams, two people per team.
3) How long is the internship? How many hours per week? Is it paid?
a. The internship is for the summer and lasts for 12 weeks. Because I was previously unemployed I’m able to commit to 40 hours per week, but they are flexible and don’t expect you to quit your job as a requirement of interning. This is a paid opportunity.
4) What team am I on? What projects and technologies do I work with?
5) Did I set up my own development environment? If so, how did I know what I needed?
a. Configuring my system was probably one of the more frustrating tasks I’ve experienced thus far, especially since I’m used to my personal computer which is a Mac; here they use Windows and PCs. I report to a manager but I also work closely with a mentor, who is a Software Engineer. When I accepted the internship offer, I reached out to my mentor on LinkedIn to find out the tools I should familiarize myself with. So prior to day 1 I tinkered with majority of the tools on my personal machine, and I already started learning unfamiliar languages such as Java. However, I came across several problems trying to do the same on the PC they issued to me. Thankfully my mentor is kind and is always willing to help, doing so without making me feel dumb.
6) What is the culture like? Describe the office environment and diversity of the team.
a. This may not be entirely accurate because we have quite a large team (42), which includes members in India, Ireland, and Mexico! But in regards to my local office, majority of the employees are men of Indian or Caucasian descent. There are no female developers but there are two ladies on my team who are involved in system analysis and QA, one who has worn traditional Indian attire without a sense of hesitation. There is also a wide selection of food choices to accommodate different cultures and dietary preferences. My building even has privacy rooms reserved for nursing mothers. Additionally, I recently received a notification for signups to walk in the San Diego Pride Parade with Qualcomm's CEO and executive team. Although I haven't seen many other African Americans, there is an African & African American Diversity Group/Employee Network that meets about once a month. I plan to attend one of their meetings soon. Otherwise, in only two weeks the team has done a great job at making me feel valued and included by: inviting me to internal meetings, inviting me to post-work events like Happy Hour, accepting my requests for informational interviews, and expressing interest in me/Girl Develop It. I have my own cubicle and the atmosphere is corporate but casual; on Fridays we wear Star Wars t-shirts.
7) What do I hope to gain from this experience?
a. There are several ways I could answer this question. Let's get the obvious one out of the way first. My ultimate cinderella story would be to excel at this role so much that Qualcomm won't want me to leave! I dream about them seeing my potential and inviting me to join their team permanently. Besides that, of course I'm here to: learn as much as I possibly can, contribute to the team's successes in whichever way I can, meet and connect with as many people as I can, and spread the word about Girl Develop It. That last bit is an interesting point because now that I've accepted a new role with GDI, I no longer operate for myself anymore. I've always loved helping others, hence my youtube channel and this blog, but I can feel that desire to do so now more than ever before. In addition to my personally motivated career goals, everything I do, every person I meet, and every event I go to is ultimately done so to share the wealth of knowledge with all, but especially with other GDI members. By doing so, I hope to make a difference in people's lives and help to close the gender and minority gap in the technology industry. I believe in GDI's mission and I'm proud to be in a position to actively do something about it. So I like to think this intern experience doesn't just belong to me... it belongs to us all.