By: Pinterest University Recruiting

At Pinterest, we’re the world’s inspiration company with the mission to bring everyone the inspiration to create a life they love. In light of a very nontraditional recruitment season, our University Recruiting team and Pinterest community members saw an opportunity to reflect on and enhance our University programming. After thinking through the needs of both our program and our potential candidates, we launched a 7-part skill building web series to help college students, bootcamp graduates and anyone early in their career to find inspiration to create a career they love. In early October, we launched our first ever Pin it to Win it: Early Career Web Series with the goal of providing insight, resources and opportunities particularly to those who come from underrepresented backgrounds in tech.

Through the 7 weekly sessions, attendees heard from University Recruiters, Software Engineers, and managers from Pinterest communities: Todos Pincludos, Blackboard, and PIndigenous on a range of career prep topics. From recruiting advice to technical interview prep and offer details, each hour-long session was an open conversation to help bridge the knowledge gap that limits so many from getting their career started in software engineering.

Whether you’re a student seeking information, or a professional looking to create a similar series, we’ve outlined our themes and shared resources below that recap these rewarding sessions.

Pin it to Win it: Early Career Web Series Cover Image

GETTING STARTED

Standing out to a recruiter amid an endless stack of resumes can feel impossible, especially when you’re looking for an internship and don’t necessarily have previous experience to feel like you will be competitive Now that getting IRL face time with a recruiter or company is increasingly more difficult, what can students do to stand out?

“Make sure your online profiles are updated with all of your experience, and include keywords and skills based on what roles you’re looking for”

Now more than ever, it’s important that students and job seekers give their resumes, online profiles like LinkedIn or Jumpstart, and applications some love and attention by including any relevant experience to the roles they’re looking for. On top of programming languages and work experience, at Pinterest we love to see involvement outside of just your coursework! Student organizations, volunteer work, and even personal projects are great additions to a student’s profile especially when you’re early in your career and don’t have as much working experience.

In Week 2 of the Web Series, Pinterest software engineer Chiamaka Nnebe talked about how software engineering is a knowledge based industry and it is easy to feel overwhelmed and experience imposter syndrome. She highlighted five important tips:

Breathe — If you’re feeling anxious, take a moment to pause and just take a deep breath

Center on yourself — While external advice and data are important, nobody can better understand your journey and what you need than YOU — Check-in with yourself

Invest in yourself — Take time to invest in learning and growing your skill sets

Make a plan — Take stock of what you need to study, commit to a number of hours a week, and have an accountability buddy you check in with each week to make sure you both stick to your plan

Win or learn — Regardless of the outcome, there are no failures — only wins and learning opportunities so schedule a few practice interviews early in the recruiting season to give yourself more learning opportunities

“Be kind to yourself” is another important piece of advice she gave at the beginning of the session, as it’s easy to be very critical of ourselves and there are a lot of opportunities to really anchor to the “Win or learn” mindset. Software engineers Faisal Gedi and Michael Sanabria echoed similar sentiments in their Mock interview session as they talked through best practices and how to work with your interviewer in a technical interview.

Pin it to Win it: Early Career Web Series - What to look for slide

SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

As a new grad, there are a lot of firsts that you experience with receiving your full-time offer, sometimes with just a week to decide if it all feels good or even what elements of it mean. What does equity mean for you? How do offers from private companies versus public companies differ? How do I effectively negotiate offer details without seeming pushy?

The answers to these questions are deeply personal but the most important thing you can do is think about them before even receiving an offer, and have an understanding of the vocabulary used. Before reading an offer letter, it’s worth looking at the slides from River’s Offer and financials presentation to familiarize yourself with the vocabulary and what options are even available to negotiate on. Finally, it’s important to remember that a company won’t rescind your offer just because you asked for more. The worst thing you can hear is no.

Now that you’ve made it, you’re in your role at this new company and you want to do everything you can to make the most of your experience there; whether it’s just for the summer and you’re hoping for a return offer, or this is your first full-time job. Both in Patricia’s session: How to thrive in your new job and in our Engineering Manager panel, some of the main themes were:

  • Getting the most out of your 1:1s with your manager
  • Importance of mentorship / Building your network
  • Caring with candor — giving and receiving feedback
  • Getting important things in writing

Your manager’s job is to help support your professional development, so make sure you take advantage of your time with them. They can’t help you if they don’t know what your goals are, so if they’re not bringing that up and asking questions, make sure you do!

Pin it to Win it: Early Career Web Series attendees on zoom grid screen

EYE ON THE PRIZE / NEVER GIVE UP

Something that is true but rarely reassured to students is that you will be okay if you don’t get your dream internship or job this time around. Not only are there a variety of other ways to gain experience, but there are also engineers like our very own Jennifer Uviña who never had a summer internship before landing her first engineering job and eventually joining Pinterest as a Software Engineer. All schools are different and can have different programs and priorities. Some folks have limited access to opportunities based on their own personal situations. Rejection is a part of the career journey that is impossible to avoid and sometimes may even be an opportunity.

Perfectionism is a problem for everyone and not just college students. And while imposter syndrome is very real, it’s important to keep a “Win or learn” mentality while going through the interview process. No one is an “ideal programmer,” and everyone’s career looks different, that’s our strength. At the end of the day, just know that there are many different paths that will lead you to your dream job. Even if your path feels a bit “untraditional” or different than your peers, don’t let that discourage you! Have confidence in yourself, your goals and ambitions, lean on mentors for support and advice, and know that as long as you’re learning along your journey you are exactly where you are supposed to be at this moment.

IN REFLECTION

With the multitude of hardships this pandemic has laid on us all, one silver lining that came from our (much overused) “new normal” is the ability to host a series like this that engaged over 500 students across the nation. This was the first time Pinterest created an event series of this type, and after hearing the positive and heartwarming feedback from attendees, it most definitely will not be the last. The virtual world we’ve all been acclimating to has created a unique opportunity not just for Pinterest, but for all companies to expand their reach and provide similar resources to students everywhere. Maybe now we can all use a little “Win or learn” mentality to leverage the tools, knowledge, and privilege we have to open up doors to those who need it most.

Want to learn more about life at Pinterest, or explore our open roles? Visit pinterestcareers.com.