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What high-impact achievements should a full-stack engineering intern target for a stronger resume?

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Software Engineering Intern at Infineon Technologies9 months ago

As an intern focusing on full-stack engineering, specifically the design and development of web interfaces for business applications, I'm eager to understand the key accomplishments that would strongly resonate with future recruiters in the full-stack web development space.

Could you advise me on the desirable goals (the [X]s) that I should target so that I can devise effective strategies ([Z]) to attain them, thus enhancing the appeal of my resume? Specifically, I'm interested in outcomes that can be quantified or measured ([Y]), as this format seems prevalent and persuasive in successful resumes.

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(4 comments)
  • 11
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    9 months ago

    How strong your resume is depends on some factors that are in your control and some that are not in your control.

    For example, where you went to school, or whether you have a referral to a company, is not entirely in your control. (Although, given a long enough time horizon, referrals are in your control if you do enough networking.)

    What is purely in your control is the work you do. For software engineers, that largely manifests in terms of indie projects. Here are a few ways this can make your resume significantly stronger:

    • Your project is in a domain that your desired company also works in. This is most valuable for startups. For example, you build a project in sports betting, and the company you apply for also does sports betting.
    • Your project uses technology that your desired company also uses. This is especially powerful if the company uses a unique tech stack, e.g. OCaml with Jane Street.
    • Your project actually gets users. This is the easiest way to be impressive, but also the hardest. If you have a mobile app or full-stack project which has a meaningful number of users (I define this as 5K+), you immediately stand out from other new grads.

    I'd highly recommend the masterclass about building projects that gets tens of thousands of users. In addition, check out the resume masterclass.

  • 3
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    9 months ago

    If you're talking about accomplishments in the context of your internship, the answer very much depends on the work you're doing.

    I like the format you have, and I'd encourage you to actually start with the outcome you want. Internships are so short (generally < 12 weeks) that you need that clarity. For example, imagine writing the line on your resume which makes it clear how much business impact you had.

    You'd want it to be easily measurable, easy for a layperson to understand, and to have a meaningful amount of code behind it.

    You should pick projects based on the above 3 criteria, and make this known to your intern manager so they can help you as well.

    Here's the top 10 playlist of SWE intern advice: https://www.jointaro.com/playlist/MGpBojl9gBzI9OQWTBzK/

  • 11
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    9 months ago

    Specifically, I'm interested in outcomes that can be quantified or measured ([Y]), as this format seems prevalent and persuasive in successful resumes.

    You more or less answered your own question, hehe: The best achievements for interns or any engineer really are those where the impact can be quantified.

    Interns rarely have control over what they work on - They're just starting their careers after all and need to focus on learning how to code in a production environment, working with others, and other basic skills. This means that for whatever you do indeed work on, do your best to really understand its impact.

    Measuring things is hard, so this in and of itself could be a small workstream. If you aren't able to pull any numbers, talk to your mentor and tech lead about what metrics you can reference (or maybe even add to your code!).

    Here are some questions to think about to help figure all this out:

    1. How many users does the feature(s) you worked on have?
    2. If you're fixing bugs, how many users did the bug affect?
    3. If you're adding automated tests, how many percentage points did you increase the test coverage by?
    4. If you're making internal tools, how many employees use the tools?
    5. If you're improving a product flow (can be either an external feature or an internal tool), how much faster (in seconds/minutes) did you improve it by?

    For those interested in using data to measure outcomes and ultimately write more impactful code, check these out:

  • 9
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    9 months ago

    Adding on to my prior response, it's so important for engineers to quantify their impact because their achievements are often seemingly meaningless without it.

    Because engineers work on complex problems that are often esoteric and hard to understand, it is naturally difficult to make their work sound impressive:

    • Even at Meta, there were teams working on tech that was so niche that even I, a coworker of these teams within the same company, couldn't really get what these teams were doing and why it mattered.
    • Now imagine a recruiter who has literally never worked at your company before and has never written a single line of code. They're reading your resume and have just 10 seconds to do it - Their odds of parsing your work and being like "Wow, that's cool!" are by default almost 0.

    To make everything more concrete, let's look at a very contrived example I made up from my 2-minute research into what Infineon Technologies does. Imagine the following 2 hypothetical resume blurbs for you:

    • Before: Built OutFlow, an internal tool for testing power management ICs
    • After: Built OutFlow, an internal tool to make testing power management ICs easier and is used by 100+ Infineon engineers, saving them 30 minutes on average per day (1000+ work hour savings per month)

    The "Before" example is something I have seen time and time again from people's resumes, especially earlier-in-career folks. It's just an achievement with no context - I have 0 idea what a "power management IC" is and why it's important to Infineon Technologies. To me, it's just word spaghetti.

    The "After" example is literally 100x better despite being the same thing with a sentence tacked on. I don't know what the business/revenue impact of "power management ICs" are (an intern will pretty much never be aware of this knowledge), but I understand that you built something that saved valuable employee time, thus "refunding" the company thousands of $$$ per month with productivity gains. It is very clear why I should care about this project you worked on.

    If you want to learn more about optimizing resumes, check out our masterclass about it which includes a link to my latest resume: [Masterclass] How To Write A Stellar Tech Resume That Gets You More Job Opportunities