S4E6: Interviewing and Interning at Big Tech Companies With Neel Mehta

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Neel Mehta is a co-author of “Swipe to Unlock: The Non-Coder's Guide to Technology and the Business Strategy Behind It.” At time of this interview Neel is a senior at Harvard, studying computer science, and has held internships at Microsoft, Khan Academy, and the U.S. census bureau.

One of Neel's greatest passions is using technology for social good. He started by launching an education app with a quarter-million users while he was still in high school. More recently, he founded a civic technology nonprofit, Coding it Forward, empowering young coders to use their talents for good.

In our discussion, Neel shares what drew him to technology at a young age, how he landed his competitive internships in college, why it's important to understand technology even for professionals not in tech roles, and more.

Find out more about Swipe to Unlock at learntocodewith.me/swipe.

Key takeaways:

  • “It's who you know” is true. A lot of getting ahead in tech and getting a foot in the door is about meeting the right people. Spend time networking.
  • Think big; it's important not just to have the nitty-gritty coding skills, but also an understanding of how the bigger picture works and how tech can influence the world.
  • You don't have to be a coder to understand tech concepts like how big data works, what the internet is, or why Microsoft bought LinkedIn.
  • Reading tech interview prep books alone won't be enough to stand out. What's more important is to know and understand the company and trends in their industry. Read the tech news, play with the company's products, and develop some interesting opinions.
  • It's always good to have built something yourself. It gives you something to talk about in the interview and something to put on the resume, it increases your understanding of how tech is actually made, and it's fun!

Links and mentions from the episode:

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