With over 1000 applicants this year, the Pinterest Apprenticeship Program is a highly competitive opportunity for software engineers from non-traditional backgrounds (like bootcamp grads) to experience engineering at Pinterest. Apprenticeships are up to one year long with the opportunity to be considered for conversion to a full-time engineer. We’re thrilled to announce that of the 23 people accepted as Pinterns this year, 3 are Rithm grads! We took a few minutes to chat with Vanessa Cheng, Kimberly Lin, and Jenny Liu (all from Rithm’s 23rd cohort) about their experience applying for the role and what their time at Pinterest has been like so far.
What was the application process like?
Jenny: A Rithm alum posted the job information in our #jobs Slack channel. I was really interested in the position, like a lot of my classmates, so I scheduled a chat with him and ended up getting a referral from him. In our chat we talked about the company culture, what he liked about working at Pinterest, what his experience was like from Rithm to Pinterest. It was very helpful that we have so many successful alums that are just willing to refer us and give us advice on applications.
Vanessa: I was also able to leverage Rithm’s alumni network to get a referral into the program. In addition to my referral, I submitted my resume, cover letter and an application form. The Apprenticeship program was open to accepting applications for about two weeks.
Once the application window closed, candidates were invited to an informational session to learn more about the CodeSignal assessment that we were all expected to complete and tips for how to get the best score possible.
Applicants who passed the CodeSignal assessment were invited to an hour long phone screen white boarding interview with another Software Engineer.
The last step in the interviewing process was an almost three hour virtual onsite interview. There were two white boarding interviews that were an hour long each followed by a 45 minute project presentation and behavioral interview.
Before getting an offer, I met with the Engineering manager on the team I would potentially be working with as part of a “Team Matching” exercise. During that meeting, I had the opportunity to learn more about what the team works on and determine if it would be a good fit for me.
The entire process from initial application to getting my job offer took approximately three months.
How many people applied and how many people got placed?
Kimberly: I’m not sure exactly how many applied but heard it was over 1000, and 23 got selected.
When did you start?
Vanessa: We started on Tuesday, March 22, 2022. So it’s been a little over a month that we’ve been in role. Time goes by fast!
What technologies and languages are you working with?
Kimberly: I am working with React, Python and SQL.
Vanessa: For me specifically, I’m mostly a front end developer using React, Redux, FlowType, Cypress, and Jest. I touch the backend a little bit and I use Flask.
Jenny: My current projects mostly use React. Our team also owns some API products that are in Python, so I may be working with that in the future as well.
How do you feel Rithm prepared you to do well on the interviews and in the internship?
Kimberly: I’m lucky that the stack my team uses happens to be everything Rithm taught us about. I think it was also helpful to learn about how to write good PRs. I think Rithm also taught us how to read code in a large code base and search for the relevant things you need. Also in general learning how to understand other peoples’ code.
In terms of soft skills, I think what’s been the most helpful for me is understanding the right time to ask questions to get yourself unstuck.
For interviews, I never felt like we were given problems that we didn’t have the knowledge to do. For the Pinterest interviews, I actually thought most problems were pretty easy and straightforward. However, in other interviews I felt like Rithm could’ve done more to give us practice in designing OOP (similar to what we had for React component design but in OOP).
Other than that, learning from Zach (Rithm’s Program Manager for Career Services) about coming up with a good story and framing your story in a positive light was very helpful (always say what you’re excited about instead of why you hated your old job).
Vanessa: Overall, I think Rithm has a phenomenal curriculum that prepared me for the interviews as well as my Apprenticeship. During the Outcomes weeks at Rithm, I had the opportunity to get over my nerves and practice all types of interviews. From white boarding to phone screens to answering technical knowledge questions, my eyes were wide open to the variety of interviews I would encounter.
In terms of how prepared I was for my role, almost everything we covered at Rithm has been applicable to my role and enabled me to hit the ground running. Rithm also taught me how to learn and research on my own to be able to find my own answers while the professional project also gave me exposure to the typical workflow.
Jenny: I think Rithm prepared me really well for both the interviews and the internship.
The frameworks we learned in our curriculum are so widely used in general, so it was easy to find a lot of jobs that require the technical skills we have. Even though our bootcamp was just a few months, I feel like I didn’t encounter anything in my job interviews that I hadn’t learned or heard about at Rithm.
We did some practice interviews in the last couple weeks, I also did a few mock interviews with my mentor from Rithm, all of which helped me in my actual job interviews. A lot of the job interviews tend to be coding challenges, which we specifically practiced in class as well, so we had a good idea of how to communicate with the interviewer. The pair programming we did almost every single day also definitely made me a clear communicator and that was especially helpful when it comes to explaining my code and thoughts to the interviewer.
During my internship, I feel that the ability to learn new things and solve problems without a step by step guide is a very important quality to have. I really benefited from the Professional Projects we did at Rithm, as well as the “Choose Your Own Adventure Sprint”, where we could pick a project and decide how we want to approach it. The experience we had of navigating in a large code base, being comfortable with not understanding every piece, and trouble shooting with a partner, has made me adapt to my work environment much quicker than I imagined.
Anything else people should know about?
Kimberly: I think us working together and keeping each other informed/updated on each other’s application process was helpful.
Jenny: Honestly I think we just have the best instructors and staff who truly care about our success. Everyone at Rithm is so supportive and generous with their help. I feel really lucky to be a Rithm alum!