The Internship Show

Pinterest

November 10, 2020 Scholars, Inc.
The Internship Show
Pinterest
Chapters
The Internship Show
Pinterest
Nov 10, 2020
Scholars, Inc.

On this episode of The Internship Show, we speak with Deanna Okuno and Adriana Garcia from Pinterest. Deanna is a University Recruiter and  Program Manager for the Engineering Internship Program at Pinterest. Her passion for University Recruiting started in college with her involvement in student orgs where she helped find opportunities to connect their members with networking and internship opportunities. She has been in the UR space for about 3 years now and absolutely love working with students to help them get their career started! Where Adriana spent the first 10+ years of her career in public education as a teacher in New Orleans, running a college readiness program for high school students in East Oakland, and leading recruitment & HR for a small public charter school network in East San Jose. She transitioned into University Recruitment to continue making an impact in diversifying teams.

They shared general interview preparation tips, an overview of the Pinterest ERG’s and why their company is a great place to work as a college student.

This episode was brought to you by Scholars. Scholars amplifies top employer brands to an audience of diverse students from across the country through curated podcasts, blogs, newsletters and more. 

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts
Subscribe on Spotify
Subscribe on Google Podcasts
Listen to past episodes here!

Want to be a guest on the show? Click here to contact Parker about why you should be featured on The Internship Show!

Show Notes Transcript

On this episode of The Internship Show, we speak with Deanna Okuno and Adriana Garcia from Pinterest. Deanna is a University Recruiter and  Program Manager for the Engineering Internship Program at Pinterest. Her passion for University Recruiting started in college with her involvement in student orgs where she helped find opportunities to connect their members with networking and internship opportunities. She has been in the UR space for about 3 years now and absolutely love working with students to help them get their career started! Where Adriana spent the first 10+ years of her career in public education as a teacher in New Orleans, running a college readiness program for high school students in East Oakland, and leading recruitment & HR for a small public charter school network in East San Jose. She transitioned into University Recruitment to continue making an impact in diversifying teams.

They shared general interview preparation tips, an overview of the Pinterest ERG’s and why their company is a great place to work as a college student.

This episode was brought to you by Scholars. Scholars amplifies top employer brands to an audience of diverse students from across the country through curated podcasts, blogs, newsletters and more. 

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts
Subscribe on Spotify
Subscribe on Google Podcasts
Listen to past episodes here!

Want to be a guest on the show? Click here to contact Parker about why you should be featured on The Internship Show!

Parker Pell:
Welcome to The Internship Show, where each week, we explore the ins and outs of early talent programs at companies of all sizes, across the globe. Early talent fuels businesses from startups to the Fortune 500. We're here to provide the information you need to stay informed on all of the amazing opportunities that exist. I'm Parker Pell. This week I spoke with Adriana Garcia and Deanna Okuno from Pinterest. Deanna is a university recruiter and program manager for the engineering internship program at Pinterest. Her passion for university recruiting started in college with her involvement in student orgs, where she helped find opportunities to connect their members with networking and internship opportunities.

Parker Pell:
She has been in UR space for about three years now, and absolutely loves working with students to help them get their career started. Where Adriana has spent the first 10 plus years of her career in public education. As a teacher in New Orleans, running a college readiness program for high school students in East Oakland and leading recruitment and HR for a small public charter school network in East San Jose. She transitioned into university recruitment to continue making an impact in diversifying teams. Adriana, and Deanna. Thanks so much for taking the time and joining the show today.

Deanna Okuno:
Thanks for having us.

Parker Pell:
We're super excited to have both of you here to represent Pinterest, but first I want to dive a little bit deeper into each of your backgrounds. Deanna, you knew in college, you had a passion for university recruiting. Where did that really come from?

Deanna Okuno:
Yeah, I think it really all started with getting involved with a couple of student organizations in college. I went to Arizona State majoring in HR, so I really wanted to get more involved in our student chapter of SHRM, which is the Society of Human Resources Management, just so that I can learn exactly what I wanted to do with my major. That really just led me into taking on a leadership position in a couple of those clubs, that ultimately gave me that position to connect our members with networking opportunities and internship opportunities across the HR function with other companies. So, got the recruiting side from the student side.

Deanna Okuno:
Then from there I had a couple of key HR internships that, one showed me what a dream internship experience would feel like. Then, the other one, that really showed me an opportunity to greatly improve that experience for our interns. So, I was fortunate enough to have such an amazing team, that gave me that opportunity and full ownership to make it better. I guess from there, I knew that this is something that I absolutely love doing and had a passion for, and I haven't really looked back since.

Parker Pell:
That's so great to hear. What would you say are some qualities really needed to be successful in early talent space? Because, I think early talent is so different obviously than more senior level recruiting. I feel like you have to be a bit more relatable and passionate in helping guide that candidate experience.

Deanna Okuno:
Yeah. I mean, I think understanding the stage in the student's career that they're in. It's very new to them going into whether it's their first internship or first full-time job out of college, where you have things like equity and benefits and all these other things, definitely seeing it from their point of view. Just, also sharing that excitement. I think it's really important from a recruiting perspective. It's very new. It's very fun. I think that's something that draws me to university, is the energy that you get from students and people going into, really just starting their career for the first time

Parker Pell:
Adriana, let's transition to you now. How has your education background helped you in your current role in UR now?

Adriana Garcia:
Yes. When I first graduated college, I was a business major, but I actually ended up going into education. I joined Teach for America, started teaching for a couple of years. From there, I spent several years working in public education and the nonprofit world, specifically around college readiness, so getting students to and through college. I spend a lot of time on college campuses, so I think just understanding what college students are thinking about, how they're weighing all of the decisions that they have to make, I think helped me specifically in university recruiting. They're thinking about a lot of different factors, and taking their first full-time job out of college is a really big deal.

Adriana Garcia:
So, I can definitely relate and be their sounding board as they're thinking through all of the different options, especially for students from underrepresented backgrounds, who potentially have a lot more responsibilities at home or other things to think about. But, it's definitely helped me as a university recruiter, be more of their guide through this process, as they get their career started.

Parker Pell:
You hit the nail on the head. There are so many different components to navigating a job or internship search process that many early talent candidates really just don't understand or know about. One of those obviously, is an online presence, whether that's through a social platform, whether that's through crafting your resume appropriately, you name it, there's so many different components. They should be looking to have a successful online presence, but we're sitting, heating student's thinking, "Where do I begin to start to have a successful online presence?" How does a student achieve or begin to achieve having an online presence that is successful?

Deanna Okuno:
Yeah, I'm happy to take that. I mean, there's a few different platforms that students can leverage, right? There's things like Handshake that I know a lot of schools use. There's platforms like Jumpstart. LinkedIn is probably the most common one amongst all professionals and students. I guess, first and foremost, keeping your profiles updated with your recent activity, experience, skills, things like that. Definitely something that would be good for you to have all the right information there for recruiters to see. Also ensuring your social media accounts, making sure that those are polished and definitely appropriate if they're public, I would say. Then, to link all your key projects in necessary websites to your profile. You want to make sure that all of that great work that you're doing, whether it's through school or personal side-projects are listed there too.

Deanna Okuno:
Then, something too, since we're all virtual, is making sure that you have a profile picture, right? Even on LinkedIn and all these other profiles, you want to make sure that that's there and has, especially if it has an option, making sure that those pictures are polished clear picture of you, not just, some group picture that has your friends cropped out. Something that's a good first impression, right? Then also the last thing I would touch on is making sure that you start online networking, so building your network, joining communities outside of your circles. There are a lot of groups out there on LinkedIn or professional groups on Facebook and other platforms too. Adding your classmates, your colleagues, to your network on LinkedIn and asking for recommendations and referrals. I think your network and your connections, definitely matter.

Parker Pell:
Just simply getting a headshot is something students can do, and so many early talent candidates don't have headshots really accessible, and it is so important to show professionalism, regardless. As well as when you're in a virtual interview, make sure that you're prepared and don't show up with white hair and your pajamas. Take every opportunity you can to show the recruiters that you're speaking with, whether that's through a virtual event or a virtual one-on-one, that you're truly caring or are passionate just in general about it, know how to navigate that job search process. Anything specifically as students are crafting their resume, that you're looking for in an ideal resume or students should ensure that they have on an ideal resume?

Adriana Garcia:
Yeah, definitely. Your resume is essentially the first thing that recruiters get to see, especially when it is virtual or an online application, for example, or even at a career fair. I think, from the university recruiting perspective, we usually look at what opportunities students are eligible for. So, having your graduation date at the top, with your education information, where you go to school, what you're majoring in, it's just really helpful because it helps us understand which roles you're potentially eligible for, whether it's an internship versus potentially a new grad role. So, we can easily help get you started into the right interview process. We would love to avoid having you go midway through an interview process and realize actually you're a better fit for a different role.

Adriana Garcia:
That's the first thing that we look for. We also, for Pinterest specifically, right now we're hiring for software engineering, internships and new grad roles. We're looking for the technical skills that students have. Also, what coursework, I think the earlier that students are in their college career, coursework could potentially be more important because maybe the work experience is a little leaner, but we definitely also have specific teams that are hiring for different technical skills. So, it's also just helpful for us to understand that very easily from the resume and overall well-rounded. We definitely interact with students where they think, "Oh, well the volunteer work I'm doing, shouldn't go on my resume because I'm looking for an engineering role."

Adriana Garcia:
For us, we say, you should definitely put down if you have leadership experience on campus, extracurricular activities, volunteer work projects. I think the more well-rounded that you can appear the better, because it's also just great talking points as you're going through the interview process and just we'll review overall work experience things, of course.

Parker Pell:
As you mentioned, you can be purposeful in sharing your resume, and make it applicable to the job description. I would say to ensure that you get down the line in that interview process correctly, and that you're being honest and truthful with the skills that you actually have and where your level of proficiency is with the skills. It's so key for students to make sure that they understand, and if they use that resume, they get an interview, awesome. Now, a student maybe doing their first interview ever, and they're like, "Oh my gosh. What do I do? There's so many different things." How do I prepare the students for an interview with your team, or just in general, to make sure that they can take advantage of that interview with the team?

Adriana Garcia:
Yeah. A couple of tips as candidates prepare for their job interview. At Pinterest, when you get initially started into our process, we do send you some prep materials. It's a pretty lengthy document, so we definitely encourage students to look through that and really use that to prepare for the interview. Another key part of the interview process is the technical interviews, specifically for doing engineering jobs interviews. We recommend practicing those questions in a simulated interview environment and leverage your friends. Prep with them, especially when we're talking about behavioral interview questions, like I was mentioning. We do want to assess a candidate's overall experiences. Technical aspect is one piece, but also the soft skills, like how are you as a problem solver? Can you provide specific examples or how are your communication skills?

Adriana Garcia:
I think just thinking overall, how you can present yourself in the interview process. The last thing I will say, is all of our internship interviews are 100% virtual. They always have been and will continue to be, but given the special circumstances, with this current situation that we're in, we'll have all of our new grad roles be virtual as well. Testing your, your computer connection with your internet, your microphone, practicing again with your friends, like you were saying earlier. What does your background look like? Are you presenting your best self? I think, also just thinking about the remote environment when interviewing, and what are some of the things that you can prep in advance to make sure that you feel successful and that things can go smoothly?

Parker Pell:
I would say, now more than ever, companies are giving candidates like Pinterest as much information as possible, so that that candidate can be successful and feel as if they're prepared. It's about taking the next step and actually, what are you doing with it, so that, whoever on the team you're talking to knows, and you're here to represent Pinterest. We'll flip the script now and really focus on your all's company. Could either of you give me an overview of who is Pinterest?

Deanna Okuno:
Yeah. I mean, Pinterest is a very personal product, right? People use it to redesign your home, pick up new hobbies, especially during this pandemic, starting your own cooking journey. Really, Pinterest's mission is to bring everyone the inspiration to build a life they love. I think with that, Pinterest is a really, really fun product to use and Pinterest is really just the first visual discovery search tool. Our engineers, as well as our interns are able to work on projects that are really exciting and impactful during their time here.

Deanna Okuno:
One, I guess, story or project that I love to highlight, because I think it's really exciting to see the impact that you even our interns can have is the skin tone filters that are on Pinterest. I think that's something that, from an I&D perspective, and just overall inclusion and that impact on the product, it was something that our interns were able to work on and clearly is out here today. Just very exciting to have projects that our interns work, on that make a large impact. Then also, just being a part of bringing inspiration to everyone really, especially during this time too.

Parker Pell:
With a company, I'm sure that's so relatable to so many students and early talent listening out there, right now. They're listening and saying, "What does that company culture look like? So many people use Pinterest. We know it's a high- growth company. What does that culture look like?

Adriana Garcia:
I can go ahead and start. Yeah. I guess what I'll do is I'll speak to it from my own personal experience. I've been at Pinterest for a year now and for me, thinking about the culture at Pinterest, it is very collaborative. We do have teams that are small and can pivot very quickly when they're trying to solve a problem. I think, from an early talent perspective, you're walking into an opportunity where you can really feel like you're making an impact, as Deanna was saying. Some of the projects that our interns work on are pretty high-impact, pretty highly-visible.

Adriana Garcia:
I think feeling like, just because you're early in your career, you have to do things that are maybe not as exciting or engaging, is not necessarily accurate at Pinterest. I think you can dive in, and senior engineers are happy to mentor you and they're open to feedback as well. I think that, that's something I've personally experienced. Even in my own onboarding was just, everyone was so helpful and eager to guide me through my learning process. There's a lot of opportunities to connect with people, where you have maybe potential similar interests or similar backgrounds. We have Pinterest Community, essentially employee resource groups where you can join those. They're open to all of our employees, and it's a variety of social connection or learning and development.

Adriana Garcia:
There's a woman's conference that's coming up in a couple of weeks. It's just, I think your experience is what you make it. There are a lot of really amazing, talented, hardworking, humble people at Pinterest. That has personally, been my experience. We've certainly heard that similarly from our interns and new grads.

Parker Pell:
I think that more so now, early talent are looking at Pinterest communities or employee resource groups as a way to really get immersed and involved in the company holistically, in all levels and all backgrounds. Deanna, could you speak a bit more maybe about the Pinterest communities, the importance to them obviously, and can interns get involved in those?

Deanna Okuno:
Yeah, absolutely. First and foremost, yes, interns can be a part of them. I think it's a very vital part of your experience of what is Pinterest culture, and what is it like to work here? I think, especially during this remote time, when we're all virtual and you're not in the office, you can't really see people going to lunch, it's even more important to get involved in those communities, from people who have similar backgrounds, similar cultures, similar hobbies, and interests. Definitely something that's, to Adriana's point, really important to get involved in because they do have things like social events. They have panels. They have special opportunities for those communities too. I think if you're looking to really get a deep dive as to who works at Pinterest, and what is it like to work here, holistically, definitely encourage our interns and just overall everyone to get involved in communities that they relate to. Same for other companies too. A lot of, everyone has those employee resource groups, and I think it's very vital to that culture piece.

Parker Pell:
It's so important for students to be able to understand that they need to take advantage of their internship and come in and be embraced and be as if, and operate as if they are a full-time employee at that company. Deanna, specifically, you give an overview of your engineering internship at Pinterest, what a student can expect during their engineering internship, specifically at Pinterest.

Deanna Okuno:
Yeah, totally. Our internship program is about 12 weeks long over the summer, and it's typically either in the Bay area, Seattle or Toronto, or in this summer's case, in your individual home. But our interns work on a variety of teams, across different engineering orgs here at Pinterest. They really get to tackle real Pinterest challenges with those high-impact projects that we mentioned, that are fully scoped out by their team. I think what's really great about our program is that our interns that are Bachelors Masters, or post-doctorate students, get that dedicated one-on-one mentorship throughout the summer. They get exposure to Pinterest tools, resources, and communities that we mentioned.

Deanna Okuno:
Even though we're in this pandemic, we had social and professional development events like trivia nights. We had coffee chats with our executives. That was really cool to have that intimate setting with our high-level engineers at Pinterest. Then, our classic terrarium-building event too. Had some fun DIY events, to really bring people together and even in this virtual environment, but also having those impactful experiences for them to grow as engineers and also learning what it's like to be an engineer here at Pinterest, specifically.

Parker Pell:
It's so great to hear how teams and early talent have gotten creative and been able to create those DIY projects or teams and those types of things, to stay engaged and stay informed. Adriana, specifically, could you go a little bit deeper into maybe the non-technical aspect and component of these internships?

Adriana Garcia:
Yeah, definitely. We specifically, have in the past, a sales internship program, so it's non-technical and it's really an opportunity for interns to understand what an account manager role is. It's more around understanding how ads are performing on our platform, and then working with that specific client to help them increase engagement. It's also a 12-week program. The regional offices are San Francisco, Chicago and New York. It does also include that one-on-one mentoring. Unfortunately, we did have to put on it for 2020, and we're in conversations around what it could look like for some of 2021.

Adriana Garcia:
The other non-technical program that we have is called the Engaged Scholars program. It's an unpaid eight-week professional development series. We offer that to college freshmen and sophomores. We often get the question of, "Well, I'm a freshman or a sophomore. What opportunities are out there for me? I think this eight-week program is really great because it helps students prepare to land their next internship or their next new grad role. A variety of different sessions. There's a small group mentorship component as well. Then, they get to interact with the university recruiting team pretty regularly, so it does help set them up for the longterm.

Parker Pell:
That's so great to hear, because I think that freshmen and sophomores now are figuring out, can I do an internship without any "corporate experience?" It goes back, Adriana, what you mentioned earlier of yes, you should be listing your educational classes that you're taking when you're a freshmen or sophomore to show the skills that you're developing, because everyone understands that if you're freshman, sophomore in college, you may not have that corporate experience, but it shows that you're eager to learn.

Parker Pell:
Through this engaged scholars program, you can get a leg up and hopefully start that relationship early on in their collegiate career. It's so great to hear all the different opportunities, obviously, that Pinterest offers, to technical as well as non-technical background students, and through your program has structured it is. Is there any takeaways that either of you are really hoping that, when it's all said and done at the end of the 12, 10 or eight weeks, that student leaves a Pinterest internship with?

Deanna Okuno:
Yeah, I think there's a few. For one, definitely embodying those key Pinterest values. A few to mention, definitely, well, growth mindset, first of all. You won't know everything walking into the door, and that's totally okay. We give challenging work, because we believe that it will help them grow, rather than stay in their comfort zone. It's important to be okay feeling challenged at times, knowing that you'll overcome that, and it'll all be a learning opportunity there. To that point, be curious, ask questions and adopt a winner learn mindset, which is a value here at Pinterest that you'll hear a lot of.

Deanna Okuno:
Obviously, you'll have two outcomes when you try something new. You either win that opportunity, I guess, or that experience, or you'll learn something from it. Definitely, very prominent here in Pinterest culture. Then also, caring with candor, being open to receiving and implementing feedback, but also sharing feedback with others, whether it's with your team, your coworkers, or even your UR team.

Parker Pell:
It's so great to learn about Pinterest and the opportunities that you are offering to early talent, and how structured the program is. We really appreciate both of you coming on to the show and sharing such awesome information. Anything else, or closing remarks that you want to hit home about Pinterest, the company culture or anything like that?

Adriana Garcia:
Yeah, I guess I'll, I'll leave with some words of advice to our listeners. I think, of course, like prepping as much as you can for the interview process, but also just feeling confident in your own abilities. I think we hear a lot of, "Well, I'm not 100% qualified for that role, so I shouldn't apply." I think for me, it's like, I always say, "You should go for it. You never know what's going to happen." Of course, once you get that interview, then you're ready for it. That's my advice. Just go for it.

Parker Pell:
It's been so great speaking to you both today. We appreciate the time you took.

Adriana Garcia:
Yeah. Thank you.

Deanna Okuno:
Thank you, so much.

Parker Pell:
What an awesome time, speaking with Adriana and Deanna from Pinterest, who share general interview preparation tips and an overview of the Pinterest employee resource groups and why their company is a great place to work as a college student. To listen to all of our shows and get updates on future ones, checking out our website, theinternshipshow.com. If you're listening to this on Apple podcasts or Spotify, we'd love for you to leave a rating or a review on the show. This episode is brought to you by Scholars. Scholars matches college students and employers for internships and entry-level jobs, based on skills, experiences, and interests. Make sure to tune in next time to the Internship Show and have a great day.