During the first two weeks of February, our second annual Virtual Technical Practice Interview program took place on computer, tablet, and phone screens near and far.

Student sitting at a computer.

This year, a whopping 120+ students and alumni participated in the program, including 77 students and 45 alumni volunteers. Alumni volunteers hailed from a variety of industries and types of organizations, from technology and media giants to finance companies, engineering firms, startups, and more.

To all the alumni who volunteered their time, and to our colleagues in the Computer Science department who collaborated on this event: THANK YOU!

What We Learned: Advice and Insights from Participants

“I love being able to mentor students who want to go into my field and I felt I really had a positive impact on the students I interviewed. I’m so glad they had this learning experience and I hope they go in to their job searches prepared to succeed.” —Alumni Volunteer

Our Alumni are A+++

No surprise here—we know that we have fantastic alumni. But don’t just take it from us; take it from our students:

Person's chest with Google T-Shirt and alumni badge.

Participants reported coming away from their practice interview feeling more confident about their technical interview skills and with a clear path toward continuing to improve. They particularly appreciated the “insightful feedback” and “positive energy” that their alumni interviewers brought into the (virtual) room.

In fact, students had such a positive experience that 100% of survey respondents reported that they would participate again in the future.

our alumni volunteers can help, even if you’re just starting out. (Just Let them know.)

You don’t have to be a coding ace to participate in a practice technical interview—it’s great that you’re putting yourself out there. Our alums are happy to help you get started.

If you are just getting started with coding or doing a practice technical interview for the first time, however, do let the alum know. This will allow them to help you build a solid foundation for future preparation.

Prep Your Interviewer to make the most of your practice.

That leads to a more general piece of advice: Make sure your interviewer has the information they need to best support you in your practice.

Person on the phone.

For instance, alumni volunteers found it helpful when students sent along their resume and a list of coding classes they’d taken, as it gave them a sense of the student’s level of coding experience.

Alumni also appreciated knowing a student’s goals for the practice interview, which allow them to tailor their support accordingly. So, if you have specific areas you know you’d like feedback on, be sure to share them in advance or at the beginning of your conversation!

Finally, if there’s a specific job you have in mind, send the posting to the alum as well. This will give them a clearer sense of how to tailor their questions toward your interests.

OUR Alumni Love Helping You!

Like our student participants, alumni reported having an overwhelmingly positive experience volunteering as interviewers: 100% of respondents expressed interest in participating again.

“It was a privilege to help current students the same way alumni helped me when I was in their position. I am excited to get to do it again!” —Alumni Volunteer

Ready, Set, Connect

If you’re interested in additional opportunities to meet alumni in computer-science–related careers, you might be interested in our Science Technology Engineering Program, a summer mentorship program. You might also enjoy upcoming events like our Spring Career Fair or Startup Industry Showcase.

And for more advice from Columbia alumni, or to contribute your own, check out our Alumni Profiles page.