My experience as a STEP Internship Software Engineer at Google, London

Woman standing outside Google Headquarters


Ioana Moraru shares with us her experience of the STEP Summer Intern Programme with Google.

In the summer of 2018 I had a totally new experience that turned out to be very interestin. I was a STEP (Summer Trainee Engineering Program) Intern Software Engineer at Google in London. This internship program is specially designed for students who finished the first year out of three or the second year out of four. Therefore, this kind of internship addresses students with no working experience and it is based on fast learning. Comparing with a classic Google internship program where you work alone, the STEP internship group students into pairs. The projects are not so difficult. For me it was the first time when I worked in the industry and it was a great start for my future career in the software engineering field.

The Recruitment Process

Probably the way I got selected for this internship was not an usual one, because I didn’t apply on the career platform, but I got a message on LinkedIn from a recruiter. She was presenting me this program I was not aware of and asked me to apply if I am interested.

Technical Interviews

Cracking The Coding Interview book, Google Internship

I had two technical interviews which consist of solving a programming task. A book that I can recommend for preparing for the technical interview is Cracking the Code Interview. The difficulty of the tasks was not so high, especially for this beginners program. They want to find people that can think critically and have communication skills, not necessarily one certain programming language skill. You will have time to learn more during the summer time if accepted.

My Journey from Non-Technical Backgrounds to Tech Confidence

Project Matching Stage

After successfully passing the technical interviews, I had to find a project that matches my wishes and skills. For this stage I needed to fill in a form providing details about my experience and preferences regarding programming languages, technologies and locations where I wish to work. There were some questions about the fields I want to discover. Based on this form and my resume, Google employees that had projects for this internship program could decide if they think I am a good match for them or not. This employee is called the “Host” and if you are accepted, they will be your boss during the summer time.

During the STEP program, the interns work in pairs, so both of them will have two hosts. When a host decides that they want to find out more about you, they will schedule a video call. During this call you will meet that person and find out a little bit about their work. You will introduce yourself and talk about your skills, projects and experience to convince them you are the person they wants in their team. One important thing is to be excited and interested about the project if you find it suitable for you. Sometimes you won’t find out a lot about the team or the project because the information is confidential. I had two such project matching calls.

The first potential project was in the Munich office, but it did not fit my profile. Now, after I’ve finished my internship I realise that maybe it was challenging, but privacy doesn’t allow the employees to give enough details about the project in this stage. Then I got the second call with the people who became my hosts for this internship. I found out that they work in the London office. They presented me a short description of the project that I found interesting despite the fact that I didn’t understand all the details.

The Offer

The confirmation came almost a week later and they accepted me! I sent the recruiter more personal details and documents and then I got an offer which I electronically signed.

Navigating Accommodation Challenges and Discovering the Realities of Student Housing

Maybe I can say that getting the offer was the easiest part of this experience. I consider that the most difficult part was moving to a foreign country. It was pretty difficult for me to find accommodation because I didn’t know the city. It was unclear which areas are safer and better for living. Moreover, it turned out that the best option was to live in student accommodation. The problem was that University in the UK starts at the beginning of September, so before the end of my internship (21st September). Another option was to rent a flat. When I searched this on the online platforms I found out it was much more expensive, at least living alone. After searching more than a month and sending many emails, I decided that the best option for me at that moment was to live in a student accommodation for the first two months. Then move to another place until the end of the internship.

Open laptop with code on a white desk next to a plant and a pair of glasses, STEP Summer Intern Programme with Google.

Living in a foreign country

The first student accommodation I lived in was Urbanest St. Pancras. The experience was almost perfect. The room looked exactly like in the pictures from the website, clean , modern and with new furniture. There were two things that made me not be fully satisfied with this place. The first one was that during that summer London was really hot, so my room was constantly 30 degrees. The second problem I faced was the fact that the kitchen was shared with another 10 rooms. I didn’t need to cook so much, because during the week I was eating at the office. The flatmates were cooking daily and never cleaned the kitchen. So I paid twice for cleaning and repairs due to the fact that it was a common space.

The second location where I lived was below my expectations. As you can see on their website The Stay Club Camden the rooms seem to look very good. The reality is different. I lived in a double room with another Google intern. The room was very small, almost the same size as the room where I lived alone. . Moreover, the room was pretty dirty. It had a lot of issues (the window couldn’t be closed, the sink was clogged and some bulbs didn’t work). The area of this student accommodation was crowded and noisy. I had to walk quite far every day to the office.

Woman standing outside Google Headquarters

The Google Internship

This internship gave me the opportunity to meet some wonderful people and learn a lot from them. It started with a welcome summit in Zurich . All the STEP interns from Europe met each other and had some activities. Then, for the next 11 weeks I worked on my project, received and gave feedback. Attended some mandatory and optional workshops for learning as much as I could during the internship. You have probably already heard that Google employees have free food at the office and that is true. I also had access to fitness and aerobic classes. However, they care a lot about the employees’ careers too, so there were workshops and classes organised for everyone to learn more different subjects.


In my opinion, the experience of such the Google internship program, at least during your studies is crucial to ensure a faster career development. If the internship is taking place in a foreign country, you will gain the most of this experience, because you must go outside your comfort zone and face different situations.

Apply now to give yourself a change and an unforgettable experience! I would love to hear your opinions and questions in the comments section below!

You can check out more of Ioana’s content on her blog, Instagram and LinkedIn.




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